I love it when I discover a new word. Recently I learned an excellent one which I plan to try and popularise far and wide. I especially love it because it describes me, and lots of people I know: Vegivore.
What’s a vegivore? It’s not someone who eats solely vegetables, and it’s not a vegetarian. The term – which seems to have originated in the USA – means someone who passionately loves vegetables, and gives them a starring role in their meals. A recent New York Times article entitled “Why Vegetables are the New Meat” describes it thus:
“For the vegivore, a vegetable can occupy the centre of the plate, with meat adding flavour or functioning as a condiment.”
The same article details how top New York chefs are going crazy for vegetables in their menus, and this is reflected in booming turnovers as customers respond positively.
I was so thrilled to see this, because for some time now making vegetablesequally as important as meat has been my approach to cooking, and also to the recipes we feature in Healthy Food Guide magazine. This is not yet, I believe, a focus for all chefs and food writers. But I reckon that’s going to change, especially if we vegivores demand it.
Being a vegivore doesn’t mean changing what you eat. You can still enjoy all manner of delicious meat. It just means changing your focus. Maybe have a couple of meat-free meals a week; or use less meat and more vegetables thancalled for in the recipe you’re using. Think of the vegetables first when you’re planning your meal, rather than basing your meals around the protein component. Spring’s here, so this becomes much easier and cheaper to do.Cover half your plate with a delicious toss of blanched asparagus, courgette ribbons, green beans and rocket leaves with a little olive oil and shaved parmesan and serve alongside a piece of fish or steak. Roast cherry tomatoes, capsicums and courgettes and toss through crispy roasted potatoes and baby spinach leaves to serve with grilled chicken. Mash peas and canned white beans together with garlic, mint and olive oil for a vibrant green alternative to mashed potato. There are only so many ways you can cook a piece of meat, but vegetables have endless possibilities – they’re super inspiring for keen cooks.
The same philosophy applies when we’re eating out. I challenge the chefs of New Zealand to follow your NYC counterparts. Start making vegetables central to your dishes rather than a small add-on to the main event, or a token side dish. I bet the punters will love it, if you give them the chance.