So, as I was cooking dinner tonight - no, I didn't write down the recipe - I pondered how glad I am that my sister decided to become a vegetarian. While I still eat meat, this decision (made several years ago now) has completely changed the way I think about food. It has caused me to think about what I cook in new ways. I think about where my food comes from - what died so I could eat this meal? Was it part of a natural cycle? When I eat meat, I think about things like how the animals lived? How were they killed?
But beyond these rather philosophical and difficult questions I have also changed the way I think about putting a meal together. Vegetarians, like all of us, want a meal, not a collection of side dishes. I think about what goes into satisfying the people I feed, and how I can do that without basing it on meat. This means I have so many options that I never considered before, and may have never considered if I wasn't cooking for a vegetarian. This thought process was compounded by living with a vegan two years. It has fundamentally changed how I compose with food. There are moments when it strikes me, and I feel like a painter who was only painting with half the colours and now I have a full palette - and yes, the pun was intended and I am not sorry.
So for dinner we had a tikka curry with potatoes, veggies, and paneer. With saffron rice. And it was lovely. Six years ago I never would have thought to put this meal together.