Recently, there’s been a lot of interest in “a plant-based diet” as the path to good health. Sometimes people use the term as a synonym for a vegan diet (excluding all animal-derived foods) and other times they mean “a diet of mostly plants, with a lot less meat and dairy than a typical American diet.”
What I find funny are the suggestions to transition to “a plant-based diet” by getting some crucial nutrients from mushrooms, nutritional yeast, and seaweed–because those aren’t plants!
I actually didn’t know this about seaweed until last month. I assumed that seaweeds or “sea vegetables” were plants that grow abundantly in salt water. But seaweeds are actually a type of algae, in the Protist kingdom.
A truly plants-only diet doesn’t provide all the nutrients humans need to thrive. But neither does an animal-only diet, fungus-only, or protist-only.
That’s why monarchy is not a healthy system, at least where dietary choices are concerned. We humans need to eat from several kingdoms! (Although I said “all the kingdoms” in the title, that’s mostly for effect–as far as I know, we don’t need to eat Archaebacteria, although we do have them in our digestive tracts.)
Sampling foods from the other kingdoms may help you to reduce your reliance on animal foods. Many Earthlings are eating more meat than is healthy for their bodies or our environment. Lent is a great time to cut back on meat and try something new! It’s not all about deprivation–bring the riches of many kingdoms into your dining room!
In the process of researching seaweed, I made a seaweed salad just like you’ll get as your appetizer in many Japanese restaurants, and it was very easy and delicious! I also made my own vegan dashi broth for Japanese Udon Noodle Soup, and it was so good and so simple, I may never buy that fish-powder stuff again! Here’s how I made the broth:
Delicious Dashi Broth
Place in a soup pot, cover, and bring to a boil
- 8 cups water
- 1 strip dried kombu (kelp) seaweed
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms
Boil for about 20 minutes while you cut up vegetables or whatever else you’re going to have in your meal. (If you’re going to use fresh ginger root–I did–you may want to add it at this stage, too, so that its flavor is well incorporated into the broth.)
Use tongs to remove the kombu and mushrooms. Then you can cut them up and include them in your food, or use them for some other purpose, as you choose.
Offer your teenager some “weed and shroom soup”! He still won’t think you’re cool, but he might admit that it’s extremely tasty.