Barbecued lentils is the kind of dish that promises a delicious compromise for vegetarians and meat eaters.
Vegetarians can spoon the lentils over a bowl of rice, making a meatless entree with a full complement of protein, while non-vegetarians can find happiness serving the lentils as a side dish with their favorite meat entree.
Being a vegetarian wasn’t always so simple. In 1830, when Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister and firm believer in the health benefits of diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole-grains, tried to change the way Americans ate, he ran into more than his share of troubles.
At the time, the American diet was steeped in fat. People ate pie for breakfast and fatty meat with greasy gravy the rest of the day. The Graham plan, based on the idea that what Adam and Eve ate was good for modern man, was called the Edenic diet.
As diets go, it was just another fad, but unlike the Atkins and South Beach diets, which had masses of people at least temporarily hooked, people were not excited about Graham’s proposal. His followers were so ridiculed by the public they had to closet themselves in hotels and boardinghouses that served vegetarian meals.
In a turn of events that would have been hard to imagine in 1830, meatless eating is now smack in the mainstream. Bookstores have shelves of vegetarian cookbooks, and restaurant chefs go out of their way to satisfy their vegetarian customers. Sylvester Graham would be thrilled.
—By Jean Kressy