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The Essential Vegetarian

Final Farewell

By Katie Jeffreys

staff writer

This is it: the last Essential Vegetarian column I will be writing. In my columns I have covered everything from the nutritional and environmental reasons for being vegetarian to how to survive in Europe as a vegetarian. At one point I spent a week trying out veganism, recognizing the difficulty of that lifestyle in college. My work has brought me in contact with Aramark management, the lawyer suing McDonald’s on behalf of vegetarians, and countless MIT community members who e-mail or approach me.

The most frequent question I get is “Why are you a vegetarian?” Usually I respond simply, “I don’t like meat.” However there are so many more reasons to be vegetarian that I have discovered since making the switch nearly six years ago. I don’t think that by sharing this knowledge in this column I have converted anyone into a vegetarian, but it is my hope that the vegetarians (and non-veggies) who read this column are a little more informed and at least entertained enough to not fall asleep in 8.01 lecture while doing so.

Sadly, just as I am about to graduate, a new vegetarian food delivery service opens in Boston. The company, called To Life! Natural Food Corporation, prepares a different menu each day, e-mails it to customers, and then delivers the food at a requested time. The general manager of the company is a Harvard student, cross-registered at MIT. She informed me of the service and I decided to give it a try. Most of the food is in fact vegan, and the company is very honest with the ingredients it uses. I ordered a sampling of many of the dishes they offered and was impressed. It is not gourmet, but is a convenient, economic way of getting vegetarian food, comparable to the food trucks.

The appetizer of the day was a croquette, which was rather boring and very greasy. I chose the potato salad, which could have benefited from a little more spice. Next up was penne in a creamy spinach sauce, which was probably the best entrÉe I tried. Each day several rice dishes are offered, and I chose butternut squash as the rice accompaniment. Both were quite tasty, but would not constitute a meal. I also ordered a side dish of the stuffed zucchini, which were filled with vegetables and grain and topped with marinara sauce. This dish was the biggest surprise. I thought I wouldn’t really care for it, but it was really quite tasty, and the consistency was not at all tough or chewy. But wait, there’s more. I ordered a veggie burger with guacamole, which at press time I hadn’t gotten around to eating. And for dessert, there was apricot and strawberry flan. I am usually not a big flan fan, but these little mounds of wobbly goo were really very good. For some reason the apricot one became a little runny, but it was still a very mild flavor that suited the dish.

The best part about the meal? All the food I ordered cost only $20. So far the food has consisted of two dinners and four snacks, and it is maybe half consumed. To Life! can be reached at (617) 416-0696 or at <>.

As always, feel free to contact me at <> for the short time it will be my address.

My recipe this week is an old favorite that ran in the second column I wrote. I made this again just last week to rave reviews.

Spinach Orzo Casserole

1 small bag of orzo pasta

2-3 cloves garlic

1 bag of fresh leaf spinach

1 container crumbled feta cheese

1 cube vegetable bullion

1 cup water

Cook the orzo as directed on the package. While the pasta is cooking, put the garlic in a blender and dice. Add spinach gradually until it is also diced. Add the bullion to the cup of water and microwave until the bullion is dissolved. When the orzo has finished cooking, drain it and mix the spinach and garlic paste in until the pasta is evenly coated. Put the pasta mixture in a casserole dish (about 9” x 9”) and drizzle the broth over it. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes to soften cheese. Works well as a side or main dish.