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Evolution to a Vegetable Diet - by Ron Skaar - November 2015


Evolution to a Vegetable Diet

by Ron Skaar

Numerous ancient philosophers chose to follow a vegetarian diet. Pythagoras, who concocted the theorem for triangles, was an outspoken advocate of animal rights in ancient Greece. Other Greeks, notably Plato, plus Roman philosophers Seneca the younger, Ovid and Plotinus followed suit. 

Their argument for the vegetarian diet was based on health and the transmigration of souls, at death into another body. If humans deserved justice, so did animals. Confucius and Gautama Buddha were promoting similar ideas, both around the 5th century B.C. By the 11th century A.D., St. Francis of Assisi had taken up their mantel. 

Christian vegetarianism was preferred by seventeenth century Englishman, Roger Crab.

He had radical views on pacifism and the evils of owning property, while promoting ingesting grass, weeds and roots as food. Perhaps that is why Crab was the inspiration for Lewis Carrols “Mad Hatter”. 

Voltaire, the French advocate for civil rights and freedom was a vegetarian, along with our own Ben Franklin. Vegetarian societies were well established in 19th century England and America. Those who included fish in their diet were called pescetarians. By the turn of the century Mahatma Gandhi was a member of the London vegetarian society, saying the plant based diet was a matter of ethics, not health.

Albert Einstein wrote, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chance of survival of life on earth, as the evolution to a vegetable diet.” Shortly after those words were written, veganism arose out of the London vegetarian society. At first it meant a non-dairy vegetarian but quickly grew into the non-exploitation of animals. 

The vegan philosophy extends beyond diet by opposing the use of animal products for any purpose. Environmental vegans believe that harvesting animals on industrial farms is both environmentally damaging and unsustainable. Sustainable farming is the skillful production of safe, high quality agricultural products while protecting and improving the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of workers, and safeguarding the welfare of all farmed animals.

I was a vegetarian for a decade, in my younger years. I became a pescetarian after moving to San Francisco, with all its fresh seafood. As a chef, I learned to compromise and taste all sorts of protein. I still do not eat red meat (bacon is a seasoning, right) but have found a middle ground, as a “fowlatarian”.

Thanksgiving was always the hardest holiday for me, as a vegetarian, to enjoy. Luckily all the side-dishes made it similar to a smorgasbord. Now with the bounty of fall crops upon us, family farms like local Tierra Vegetables are awash in winter squash and root vegetables. The accompanying recipe makes marvelous use of these products.

This salad pops with color, mixing roasted vegetables with crisp apple in a zippy herb dressing. Using a non-dairy substitute in the dressing makes it deliciously vegan.

Alexander Valley Salad with Horseradish Dressing


½ cup low-fat sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons prepared horseradish cream sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
(or use 3 tablespoons of 100% natural horseradish mustard)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad: 4-6 servings

2 medium beets
2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
1 ½ cups broccoli florets
1 medium apple, cored and diced
Whole grain croutons, made from your favorite whole grain bread
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
5 oz. 50% spring mix & 50% baby spinach

Combine the dressing ingredients in food processor until smooth, add water to thin to desired consistency. Add chives, salt and pepper. 

Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast in preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Let the beets rest in foil for 15 minutes, then remove foil and skin, cut into desired shape.

Line oven pan with parchment, keeping separate, toss squash and broccoli in olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 minutes. Let all vegetables cool to room temp.

Mound lettuce on plates, decorate with beets, squash, broccoli and apples, garnish with croutons and seeds. Pass dressing on side.