On paper, Chetan Hebbale’s life is an ideal picture of success. He maintains a high grade point average in his fourth year at The University of Georgia. He balances two majors, microbiology and economics, activities on campus and a social life. He meets uncertain post-graduation plans with positivity.
But Hebbale is stressed. He frequently loses sleep and misses meals. He feels weak and tired. Just like any other college student, Hebbale struggles to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
What makes him different? He is a lifelong vegetarian.
Modern day vegetarians no longer struggle with social stigmas. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are gaining momentum across the country, especially in college towns, where health-conscious young men and women rule the majority. Vegetarians have no problem finding meal choices, either—the options in restaurants and grocery stores are almost limitless. It is the lack of nutrition in most options, the high prices of health food products and the time it takes to prepare healthy meals that prove to be major issues for vegetarians.
Hebbale says the difficulties of being vegetarian depend on what type of vegetarian you are.
“There are two ways to be vegetarian. One way is to eat desserts and Doritos and mac-and-cheese. The second way is to eat salads and vegetables,” Hebbale says. “Getting organic, fresh produce is expensive, and then it goes bad so quickly. Or you can buy a tub of hummus and a huge bag of chips, and they will last.”
“Starchatarian” and “starchavore” are terms are used to describe vegetarians who mostly eat starchy foods, and foods high in carbohydrates, in place of meat. Abby Deane, 20, University of Georgia junior, says she has only heard these words used to insult vegetarians. Whether used in seriousness or in jest, these portmanteaus, and those who identify with them, are gaining popularity in the food world.
People have a variety of reasons for transitioning to a meat-free diet; some examples include weight loss, religious beliefs and animal rights.
Deane decided to become a vegetarian a month ago to become more intentional about the food she eats. “I used to not even consider what I ate, and I’d eat whatever I wanted. Now I just feel better about eating things that make me feel better,” says Deane.
According to the July 2012 issue of News in Health, a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, cardiologist Dr. Gary Fraser says, “Because vegetarians by definition don’t eat meat, some people jump to the conclusion that simply cutting meat from your diet will lead to health benefits, but it’s actually more complicated than that.”
Dr. David Williams, holistic healthcare professional at Multi-Care Holistic Health Center in Conyers, Georgia, says vegetarians are “some of the sickest people” he sees each week in his office. Williams says most people become vegetarians because of what they see on television, or what they read online. Williams says most patients he sees transition to vegetarianism to lose weight, but end up only consuming fruit and starchy vegetables or carbohydrates, which prevents weight loss. Although they attempt to be healthy, they end up “overweight but malnourished,” Williams says.
Why are vegetarians getting sicker now than they were 10 years ago? Many vegetarians find it more convenient to fill their plates with refined starchy carbohydrates, like bread and pasta, instead of purchasing and preparing vegetables and rich sources of protein.
“I don’t think anyone realizes how important protein is,” says Williams. “Most people, vegetarian or not, don’t know how much they need each day. A good rule is half your body weight in grams of protein per day,” says Williams. “Protein helps regulate blood sugar, and satiates you—keeps you full longer. It protects muscles while you’re trying to lose weight,” says Williams.
Complete sources of plant-based protein with low carbohydrates include tofu and dark leafy green vegetables, like spinach.
Hebbale says, “Protein isn’t something I really think about. The Indian diet is very rice-based. I don’t consciously look for protein when I eat.” But Hebbale is not concerned about his health, anyway. His entire family is vegetarian.
“My family has a serious history of diabetes and heart issues,” he says, “but I think we’re at the age right now where we can get away with the worst habits because of our metabolism. We can’t see the results yet.” Until then, like so many vegetarians, Hebbale remains a "starchavore."
The fist time I attended the Branded Butcher was per the request of my good friend, and verifiable foodie, Alette. Completely submitting to her never-failing judgment, yet again, I was not let down. Fast forward a couple years—and many, many ‘Scotch eggs’ later—and I am now presented with the opportunity to share so many of the reasons that the Branded Butcher creates a dining experience that is not soon forgotten. On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, I walked into a room exuding camaraderie and warm regards. The Branded Butcher staff welcomed me in for an interview with their head chef and culinary extraordinaire Trey Rayburn, and, once again, I left happy and full.
Food aside (only momentarily), the atmosphere the Branded Butcher creates is worth the visit alone. Rayburn explains their philosophy saying,” We try to keep our energy in here a little rock n’ roll, true to what Athens is.” Most would agree Athens, among many other things, is definitely rock n’ roll. With its wooden floors, edgy art (most of which is up for purchase) continuously on display, and exposed brick walls, the restaurant creates a ‘pub chic’ vibe that remains unmatched. The Branded Butcher’s ability to tap into this energy is just another reason it is a gem in the Athens food industry.
Another one of the defining qualities the Branded Butcher consistently exemplifies is without a doubt their fearlessness in creating eclectic dishes, derived from a variety of cultures. Chef Rayburn refers to their diverse menu, describing it as, “Modern American food; we don’t really like to limit ourselves to one type of cuisine.” Rayburn made a point to emphasize that they put their own spin on dishes, creating a uniqueness that keeps customers coming back time and time again. Rayburn says, “We consider ourselves a little out there as far as the ingredients we use, and the style of food we do,” and this is ever-so obvious.
The menu currently features a variety of dishes, but despite the changing season, Rayburn explains “the classics that are always on the menu are the Scotch egg and the grilled romaine.” Off the record, I get a Scotch egg every time I am in the restaurant, and when I am not in the restaurant, there’s a good chance I’m thinking about it. This dish consists of a poached egg, cradled within a house-made sausage, and served along with a celery root remoulade, and whiskey gastrique (simply put, a sweet-and-sour sauce). While the classics remain, the changing of seasons does yield some new dishes, such as the chicken heart bolognese, a delightful orecchiette pasta dish, which Rayburn says is, ”one of my favorite dishes we’ve ever done here.” True to the identity of the restaurant, this dish is refreshingly anomalous, incorporating grana padano (an Italian cheese similar to parmesan), mustard greens, and parsley. If that description alone is not enough, feel confident knowing Chef Rayburn’s opinion is one you can trust.
An interesting menu such as the Branded Butcher’s requires a lot of coordination and planning, which is made easier with creative-minded, driven chefs. The ingredients required for the dishes Rayburn creates are chosen largely on the basis of what local farmers have coming into season, and he is proud to say, ”Matt [chef and owner] and I both have gotten pretty good at knowing what farmers have coming into season.” On the topic of buying local, I learned that one of the Branded Butcher’s very own employees actually raises the pork featured in many of their charcuterie dishes. Rayburn further describes the concept of eating eating local so accurately saying, “The food industry in this town employs a lot of people…as a whole, we are all helping each other out.” Eat local, my friends.
By Christina Kohler
It’s that time of the year again when there is nothing better than a hot bowl of chili. A chili recipe may seem unoriginal, but this delicious recipe is one to keep in the books. It is a perfect winter dish to warm you right up on a cold night. Once you have gathered the ingredients, it is quick and easy to make.
1 pound of ground beef
1 medium onion diced
½ green pepper diced
1 cloves of garlic
2 16oz cans of chopped tomatoes
1 8oz can of tomato sauce
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 can of drained kidney beans
½ teaspoon of basil
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of chili powder