Let’s start here: I’m Annelies and I like vegetables. And, as it turns out, I really like to teach others to get excited about cooking with vegetables and eating meatless. Give me your kids and your tweens, your adults and your just-starting-to-adult! We try eating meatless (mostly) at home but not vigilantly so. Part of this has to do with veggie variety and how we feel after eating them (satisfied, but never with a food hangover). I do want to say this: I’m not a doctor. Not a registered dietitian. I’m someone who loves to eat and eat well. Personal history for me shows a legacy of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, and I’d really like to prevent them as I much as I can, which leads me to my million dollar question.
Can a person change?
I’d like to think that you and I get to wake up each day and that each small decision made adds up to a big profit or deficit. Our bodies are kind of like giant piggy banks. Will we put good stuff in and hopefully get good stuff out of our bodies being strong and healthy, going the distance?
If you’d asked me how I felt about vegetables as a kid, you might be surprised to learn I was a reluctant meat eater. That is to say, my relationship status to meat has always been complicated. I’m what they call a bona-fide picky eater. And not just the exceptional things: dripping carcass hanging in a window—no, thanks. I still get ribbed about my reaction to a dish of shrimp with the heads on brought to our table once and my puzzled face as I contemplated to eat or not to eat, as it involved breaking off their shells. I’m a wuss, but perhaps proudly so? Meat, cooked but almost bloodier than it arrived from the butcher—nope. It might make you snicker that of course, the server, I first befriended upon working at a steakhouse to help pay for grad school was vegetarian. (I never could get past her description of medium rare steak as gelatinous). Or, that one of my best friends growing up was vegetarian too (iceberg lettuce, straight). Sushi? Only if it’s vegan (Departure in Portland and Shizen in San Francisco #4ever). But then again, it’s something I’ve at times been internally prompted to hide—as if liking the wildest cuts or the rawest treatments of meat is something to relish and collectively fawn over as some sort of entry into the card-carrying food lover club. But, I remember balking to myself when a cooking school I really liked rebuffed my question about a track for vegetarians. It’s been a few years since then and eating meatless has come a long way!
I never intended to start another blog. I have one (thank you very much) that is my repository of artist musings, poetry, books, and daydreaming on the plate through recipes. But after finishing up cooking classes, I still had more to offer to my Eat More Meatless students. I wanted to throw open my cooking journal thinking it might inspire them, answer some questions that had been niggling them after they’d already left, and continue the conversation of cooking.
You see, something kind of magical happened. After years of working with good food companies (Tea! Whole grain cereal with less than 5 ingredients!), I wrote a cookbook on tea, anchoring it as the cooking spice you never knew you had and setting off to depict ideas for how to envision it into every meal of the day. The book started out pescatarian, but as I refined my table of contents (and honestly, surveyed my favorite bookstore around the corner’s penchant for vegetarian cookbooks—and I could not think about not being in her bookstore!—I elected to go all plant based for readers eating meatless. An easy fix as I nixed the two fish recipes, relishing instead the incredible bounty of produce available in California and creating under the idea that food can be good tasting and good for you.
I started teaching classes around then, cooking with tea in conjunction with my cookbook and continuing to volunteer teach with Cooking Matters. They revived me as I was a firsthand witness to so many home cooks a-ha moments. I began teaching under the moniker “Eat More Meatless” in 2018 finding that while my classes typically drew others wanting fresh ideas for favorite veggies and to slowly edge more veggies onto their plates while meat takes the sidecar backseat, rather than a room full of vegetarians and vegans. So, here I am. And, I welcome you.
Eat More Meatless is my cooking journal of ideas, tips, questions answered, pairings, and if you sign up for the newsletter, recipes. I hope it brings insight that carries you into the kitchen to cook. I look forward to getting to meet you in a cooking class or getting to know you from afar.