Many of us, myself included, can occasionally feel resentful when it comes time to prepare dinner. “Why me (again)?” “Didn’t I just feed you?” “Cooking takes too long!” “I’m sick of cleaning up after meals.” “Oh! Ungrateful hordes of hungry picky little monsters.” I’m not saying the resentment isn’t warranted (at times). But I find that it helps to shift my focus and mindset from resentment to gratitude. There is joy to be found in the opportunity we have to feed ourselves and our loved ones really good food. Here are 6 big reasons I can think of right now. What are yours? Big and small, I’d love to know – post them in the comments.
1. I have a family to feed.
If something happened to my husband or children tomorrow, I would give everything to turn the clock 24 hours back to the moment when I was cooking dinner for them for the last time. I would beg for the opportunity to again yell at them to set aside their games and come set the table. In addition, having suffered multiple miscarriages, I do not take my children for granted. I am lucky to have them and to have a chance to care for them through cooking.
2. We have access to more amazing, tasty, and nutritious food now than at any point in history.
This is an immense privilege that not everyone on Earth (or even everyone in my country) can enjoy. I recognize the complex industrial and social arrangements required to make that food “appear” on the shelves of grocery stores. I am aware of the effort and suffering experienced by many along the way. Our good food luck may not last for much longer as planetary climate perturbations disrupt agriculture and causes shortages. I celebrate the produce rainbow while I can.
3. I am able to cook.
My husband recently suffered a broken wrist, which reminded me of the fragility and precariousness of my main cooking instrument: myself. Cooking with only one hand, or no hands at all, or with otherwise different abilities, is certainly possible, but definitely more complicated in our world. I am glad that I can confidently hold a knife today.
4. The scientific guidance on nutrition is clear.
There’s a lot of hype around nutrition science, mostly because good news about our bad habits make catchy headlines. However, in reality, there is far greater consensus around what foods are most health-promoting (and the other way around) than those who have a taste for (or financial interest in) animal protein would like to think. To find guidance, one only needs to put some effort into reading the results of the large-scale population studies (e.g., papers based on EPIC, Women’s Health Initiative, and other longitudinal nutrition studies) or following the work of experts committed to translating peer-reviewed work into lay language summaries (such as Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Shireen Kassam). The bottom line is clear: eating more plants and less animal-based products keeps us lively and happy for longer. Thanks to that expertise, I can confidently choose what to feed myself and my loved ones.
5. It rocks to cook on the shoulders of giants.
They went vegan early and set off on a journey creating vegan recipes we can all learn from. Isa Chandra, Dreena Burton, and Miyoko Schinner deeply influenced my own growth as a vegan cook, but there are many others who work so hard to make plant foods shine at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Check out some of my favorite cookbooks here.) Special mention goes to Robin Robinson for her (insufficiently heralded) collaborations with Dr. Greger (and the rest of her oeuvre!), showing how it’s possible to make beautiful and delicious meals using only “green light” ingredients. Thanks also to Zsu Dever and others who introduced us to aquafaba, an ingredient practically no-one imagined 10 years ago. How can we not be joyous when cooking food inspired by these amazing creators?
6. Saturday Me who meal prepped for Wednesday Me.
When I open the fridge and find the building blocks for tonight’s dinner all ready to reheat and assemble into a delicious weeknight meal, I sigh with relief. I am so thankful for the woman who planned an entire year’s worth of plant-based meals, compiled the shopping lists, and decided on the prep steps I could do on the weekend to save myself time and grief on weeknights. I love even more the woman who actually cooked those building blocks during the previous weekend. Actually, both of those women are me. One might think I’m tooting my own horn here, and that’s fine, because I am. I try to capture that Wednesday night gratitude and remind myself of the importance of doing it all over again the following Saturday.
What are you grateful for?
I would love to know. Please share your gratitude in the comments below.