Saving Earth’s bounty through a buffet

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Psst . . . I know how we can all combat climate change. The solution is simple: eat less meat. The United Nations reports that currently, livestock raised for food consumption take up 30 per cent of the earth’s land surface. In 2009, the water usage for those animals topped out at 235 trillion gallons. In comparison, soy production only used five trillion gallons. And let’s not forget the other perks of going vegetarian: it’s more humane, and it’s a super trendy celebrity diet.

Green Cuisine in Market Square is the ideal place to start your transition to a meatless diet. The menu offers dishes from around the world and changes daily. There’s also a salad bar, fresh baking, sushi and a sizeable dessert selection. Did I mention it’s a buffet? There’s no excuse for not trying something new.

Meals are calculated by weight ($1.99 for 100 grams), so while trying absolutely everything is an option, keep in mind a serving of potato salad weighs much more than a handful of salad. Bowls of soup ($2.50) or a bowl of homemade fries ($1.90) are also available. Students receive a 10 per cent discount.

The night I visited, the menu featured a chickpea-and-roasted-pepper bisque soup. Sweetened slightly from the addition of yams, the smooth soup held a delicate curry flavour. Go for a bowl if available.

I filled my plate with morsels of lentil patties, baked samosas, shepherdess pie, tofu paneer and tempeh. The lentil patty rivaled any veggie burger I’ve had in town. Packed with red lentils, quinoa and millet, it is a filling option.

For those who desperately cling to the taste and texture of meat, the shepherdess pie is for you. Ground round substitutes for ground beef, a near dead ringer once combined with lentils, onion, mushrooms and carrot.

The tempeh may not be for everyone. Originating in Indonesia, tempeh is a soy-based product, usually fermented into a cake form — a much denser option than tofu. Even a few small cubes, like the portion I tried, are supremely filling and can taste like bland oatmeal if unseasoned. The sauce accompanying Green Cuisine’s tempeh was extremely pungent the day I went, a combination of soy sauce and cider vinegar; I left a fair amount untouched. Tread lightly with this choice.

I’d suggest the garlic rice topped with the tofu paneer. The rice tastes of delicate roasted garlic, and the paneer presents a familiar Indian-inspired flavour. I find tofu an excellent vehicle for dishes like this because it becomes a sponge, soaking up whatever sauce it is immersed in.

If the salad bar calls your name, try the pesto dressing. Made with cashews, lemon, garlic and, of course, basil, it’s the best creamy dressing I’ve tasted in a long time, while containing zero dairy.

Green Cuisine not only serves purely vegetarian offerings, but also strives to offer plenty of gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free options. It’s an allergy sufferer’s paradise, as a detailed ingredient list accompanies each dish. Also, the menu is updated daily on greencuisine.com.

Step out of your comfort zone. Forgoing meat for one meal isn’t the end of the world — in fact, it might actually save it.

 

4 out of 5 stars

Green Cuisine
#5-560 Johnson Street, Market Square
Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Eat-in and take-out

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