When I was a young child, one with a distinctively smaller social circle and life experiences, I carried with me a larger-than-life simplistic deduction; that a vegetarian is, and by no other means had to be, a Buddhist. I’m guessing it had to do with the fact one of my best friends back then, JM, was a Chinese Buddhist, who coincidentally was a vegetarian, and also showed more interest in sucking the tips of her shoulder-length hair while every other girl was twirling theirs, but that’s another story for another day. I respected her home-packed green lunches, as much as she never questioned why I only ate from the stall with the green plastic plates. It was an unspoken mutual understanding between us, and even a common allegiance of sorts, with a straight-faced ‘She doesn’t eat meat’/’She doesn’t eat pork’ defence mechanism each time some brat comes by and attempts a ridicule.
We kept in touch even after we went to different coloured pinafore-d schools, our hand-made envelopes enthusiastically coloured and decorated, complete with a ‘Thank You, Mr Postman!’ speech balloon at the bottom left. What began with conversations revolving around insights on a new wish-you-were-here school, soon enough grew with age and centered around philosophical musings and existential thoughts. During the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan of one year, JM even attempted to fast from dawn till dusk for a day, and having had barely survive a whole day without food and water in school, replied with a ‘How do you do it?!’, to which I reciprocated with ‘How do you go without meat?!’. Therein lies the discussion of what if everyone went halal or vegetarian for just a day. Would it be unbearably difficult for those who can’t go a day without alcohol; would it be horridly torturous for those whose plates can’t stray from meat; could this ever be a new world order? Of course being young impressionable teenagers gave us the prerogative to view the world with a little over-the-top dramatics, but the experience and concomitant conversations thereafter brought about gained respect for each other.
I can’t exactly remember when or where I had first learned of Meatless Monday, but I do remember finding the concept and rationale behind their ‘one day a week, cut out meat’ mantra poignant and an eye-opener, to say the least. Whilst I am most certainly far from proselytising vegetarianism (myself being a meat-lover, albeit more of a white meat-lover), and not about to jump on any holier-than-thou carriage here, I say what’s the harm in trying. If two 14-year-olds could hypothesize a day of going vegetarian (or halal) solely on the basis of religious understanding and world peace (oh yes, we went there), why shouldn’t you go meatless once a week, given all the benefits awaiting your health, and the environment’s. Oh, and just so you know, if the younger me and JM had known that a completely meatless pasta simply strewn with roasted cherry tomatoes and mushrooms could have tasted this good, we would have taken over the world. I’m pretty sure of it.
Pasta With Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Mushrooms
1/2 pound linguine
200g cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
200g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Combine tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic in a pan, and drizzle olive oil generously. Roast the mixture for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst open and softened.
- In the meantime, bring salted water to a boil, and cook the linguine until al-dente. Drain and toss into the roasted tomato mixture.
- Serve the pasta with ground black pepper or fresh basil.