The Jesuit Vegetarian Corps?

I am a meat-lover. I love steak. I love hamburgers. I love hot dogs. I love poultry. I love seafood. And I especially love bacon. Previous to this year, I would have laughed at the notion of becoming anything remotely close to a vegetarian.

So, when the JVC staff presented us with a fully-vegetarian menu during Orientation, I joked (with others) that JVC actually stood for the “Jesuit Vegetarian Corps”. Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious and the joke was not a complaint at all, but it was definitely a bit different than what I was used to.

As some of you know, JV’s are given $75 per month for food. The vast majority (I think everyone, actually) pools this money with their housemates to maximize funds. Plus, that way, there aren’t four ketchups, five peanut butters, and six separate cartons of milk. That would be tragic waste of refrigerator space!

Who doesn't like Babe?

Because we pool our money, we also try to cook one meal each night for dinner, for everyone. One of my roommates is a vegetarian (since she watched Babe at age nine, actually) and we do our best to make dinners healthy and enjoyable for everyone. For that reason, on top of the relatively expensive price of meats, we’ve stayed with the largely vegetarian diet that the JVC staff introduced to us. Every weekend or so, we splurge a little with extra money left over from buying groceries and buy something like bratwurst and its vegetarian counterpart.

Like I said, I absolutely love to eat meat and it was a big part of my diet, but the switch to a largely vegetarian diet hasn’t been too bad. If anything, I’m eating healthier than ever before. We make things like tortilla-bean soup, baked ziti, vegetarian lasagna, sweat potato salad, and vegetable and bean fajitas. Our diet is full of rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables (not to mention peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches everyday for lunch. I feel like I’m in first grade again and I love it). Although it certainly helps that my roommates are pretty darn good cooks and willing to take risks in the kitchen, I’m thoroughly enjoying my time as a pseudo-vegetarian.

Plus, now, on the odd day that I can have meat, I enjoy it that much more!

Anybody know any good, cheap vegetarian meals that a cooking beginner could pull of for six?


14 Responses to The Jesuit Vegetarian Corps?

  1. Megan Barnes says:

    Hi-I found your blog through Google news alert on the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. We met at the potluck. Our sole vegetarian left halfway through the year, but we still didn’t have much meat after she left. Its just too expensive.

    One favorite of mine that’s not too hard to make and is tasty are lentil burgers.,1927,144175-226204,00.html

    This recipe is slightly different from the one I used, but its super cheap. If you put cheese on it, its a complete protein.

  2. Tom O'Keefe says:


    I’m glad you founnd my blog! Thanks so much for the suggestion. We’ll definitely have to try the lentil burgers.

    It was great to meet you, your husband, and little Bib at the pot-luck. Thank you for coming and we’ll hopefully see you soon! You’re always welcome!


  3. Adriane says:

    Hey TO! I have your blog updates sent directly to my e-mail account. It’s fun to keep updated on your experience! I just wanted to let you know that I’m inadvertently living in solidarity with you on the vegetarian cooking/eating! All but one of my coworkers is veg and we cook/bring lunch for all on a rotating basis. Tonight’s my first night of cooking, actually, and I’m bringing Roasted Ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes. I hope it turns out okay- I’m nervous! I did discover that I like some really random things though, like firm tofu…it tastes like chicken?! I’ll have to send you some recipes soon!

    Best wishes to you and the volunteers!

    • Tom O'Keefe says:

      Yo Adriane!

      Roasted Ratatouille sounds delicious! We haven’t gone the tofu route yet, but I’m sure we’ll try it soon. When you say it “tastes like chicken,” do yo mean that in a good way or a bad way?

      Thanks for following my blog!


  4. Kristina says:

    I made sweet potato and black bean chili last weekend. I shall send it if you like. I think it was successful, or else my housemates are just good liars.

    P.S. I miss meat, too. Let’s have a meat party when we are FJVs.

  5. Kristina says:

    And by it, I meant the recipe, and not the chili. I think that would be a bit squishy.

  6. Diana says:

    any hearty veggies are great – but my favorite is eggplant. i use it to replace meat all the time. eggplant parm, eggplant in pasta, eggplant cooked in olive oil with other veggies, breaded eggplant…. you get the idea 🙂 make sure you’re all getting enough protein too – chickpeas, beans, etc. i got a lot of practice when i gave up meat for lent this year!

    good luck finding the balance! 🙂 and try to eat a burger or something every once in a while

    • Tom O'Keefe says:

      Thanks, Diana!

      I never really had eggplant before this year, but we’ve had it a few times this year and I like it! It’s (really) cheap and does a good job adapting to other flavors.

      I also never ate too many beans, but the more I eat them, the more OK I am with them. I think next week I’m going to try Megan’s lentil burgers (recipe above). Should be good!

      And don’t worry about me eating a burger every once and a while! Those are too good NOT to have every once and a while!

  7. Jen says:

    Hey Tom!

    One of our favorite meals last year was a rice, bean, guacamole (home-made), salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla, etc.. all put together in one bowl with Franks Red Hot Sauce. Black bean burgers were also a big hit —

    Best of luck with being ‘vegetarian’ it has kind of followed me into my fJV shopping/cooking rituals too… guess I really was ‘Ruined for Life’

  8. […] Peanut Butter- I wouldn’t make it through the year with out you. […]

  9. […] I’ve kind of made a big deal about the lack of meat in my current diet with JVC (it’s been four months and I’m […]

  10. Diana says:

    New recipe for you….

    Total time: 30 minutes
    Servings: 4

    1 1/4 cups vegetable stock (about 1/3 of a 32oz box)
    1 can (15 or 16 oz) stewed tomatoes
    1 can white beans (with liquid)
    2 tablespoons salsa
    1 pound MorningStar Meal Starters Crumbles (1 pkg)
    4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 a bag)
    Hot sauce to taste (optional)
    Chili powder to taste (optional)
    Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
    A couple handfuls of crushed tortilla chips (about 1/2 cup)

    Combine all ingredients except tortilla chips in a pot and cook on low heat until cheese is melted. Once cheese is melted, stir in crushed tortilla chips and let simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

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