Mushroom Lima Bean Stew, Indian-Style

Mushroom and Lima Bean Stew

I’ve long refrained from writing about ex-vegetarians– yes, those who go back to eating meat — because I do believe that a sustainable and lifelong commitment to vegetarianism can only be born of a deliberate, conscious and, above all, ethical choice. Clearly, there was something about the ethics of snuffing out a sentient animal’s life that this bunch did not get in the first place, so why waste my breath trying to convince them?

But in recent weeks, the topic has gained intense media scrutiny. And recent confessions of a return to non-vegetarianism by high-profile former vegans like Angelina Jolie, Ginnifer Goodwin and Zooey Deschanel have given the meat-eating majority an opportunity to slap their thighs and yell, “See! Humans were meant to eat meat!” After all, if these stars– with their wealth and resources– could not stay healthy on a vegan diet, how can the rest of us?

As annoying as these articles are to someone who’s been vegan for four years and is in perfect health, I’ve ignored them largely because they are neither unexpected nor new. But an article this week on the MSNBC website finally made me mad enough to rant. Because — as incredible as it sounds– it dared to cast ex-vegetarians in the role of animal-rights activists.

The article sprung from another story in Food and Wine magazine that had “profiled several meat-eating “converts” who consider purchasing sustainable meat a new form of activism.” The author of the Food and Wine article is Christine Lennon who starts off with a shot at “smug” vegetarians, and then goes on to say that she was married to a “vegetarian with a pulpit” until he went back to eating meat recently after seven years without. She then interviews famous former vegetarians like actress Mariel Hemingway and cookbook author Mollie Katzen who admits to Lennon’s highly sympathetic ear that now that “naturally fed meat is available, it’s a great option for anyone who’s looking to complete his diet.”

But what really made me do a double-take was this quote from Lennon: “For Andrew and many of our ex-vegetarian friends, the ethical reasons for eating meat, combined with the health-related ones, have been impossible to deny.”

The ethical reasons for eating meat.

When did killing become ethical?

Because let’s face it, you cannot eat meat without taking a life. And just because that cow raised on a farm was treated better for its few short months of life than its counterpart in a factory farm feedlot was, it does not magically become okay to chop off its head and grind it up into hamburger.

Besides, I just don’t buy the health argument. Increasingly, research shows that a vegan diet has tremendous health benefits than far outweigh any small deficiencies (the most likely being Vitamin B and D deficiencies that can easily be remedied by popping a pill). Vegans have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Their blood pressure and cholesterol is usually lower than that of their meat-eating counterparts, and they are more likely to weigh less (which means they look better too!). It wasn’t long ago that former president Bill Clinton went on CNN to talk about how a mostly vegan diet has helped his heart health and helped him lose weight.

So here’s my plea to all ex-vegetarians out there: stop trying to convince us you are activists or heroes or that you were forced into eating meat by health deficiencies. Actually, you were just too weak to stick with your choices. If you really want to eat meat, do it and be honest enough to fess up to the fact that your cravings got the better of you, instead of trying to justify your choice as being more ethical than the one that millions of vegans around the world make each day.

You cannot be a friend of the animals and eat them too.


Mushroom and Lima Bean Stew

Now that I’m done ranting, here’s my recipe for today: a hearty, healthy dish that will put the spring back into your step and remind you why vegan is a better choice.

This Mushroom-Lima Bean Stew, Indian-Style, is perfect for a quick and nutritious weeknight meal, and takes minutes to put together once you have your beans all boiled and ready. Serve it hot with a rice dish or as I did with Coconut Quinoa (recipe coming up in my next post) for a very special, very delicious meal. A lot of the flavor in this recipe comes from my garden-fresh herbs. Feel free to use any you have on hand.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!


Mushroom And Lima Bean Stew, Indian-Style
Cook time
Total time
Mushroom-Lima Bean Stew, Indian-Style
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Mushroom and Lima Bean Stew
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup dry lima beans, rinsed and soaked overnight, then cooked until tender. If you have a pressure cooker, you can skip the soaking.
  • 1 8-oz package of crimini mushrooms (substitute with portabella for a meatier flavor, or button)
  • 1 large onion, chopped into a small dice
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ½ cup white wine (optional-- I like it because it adds another layer of flavor, but Indians don't usually cook with wine, so feel free to skip)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh herbs (I used thyme and sage, but you can use any "spicy" herb you have on hand, like rosemary or oregano. Basil would be fine too, but add that at the end of the cooking)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • ½ to 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions and mushrooms.
  2. Stir to coat with oil and saute until the onions start to take on a sheen, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until most of the wine has evaporated. Add the herbs, tomato puree, powdered spices, and cook for another two minutes.
  4. Add the cooked lima beans with any water leftover from cooking them and stir well. If you didn't have enough cooking water, add some regular water.
  5. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add salt to taste. Turn off the heat and garnish, if you like, with more fresh herbs.
  6. Enjoy!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Get new recipes by email. Sign up below.


  1. says

    I’m sure you’ll get a lot of comments based on this post.. :) Interesting articles you mention as I just found a link from MSNBC about the same topic of “former vegetarians”. I say, keep up the good fight on your end and if you continue to present vegan recipes on your blog, I’ll keep cooking them up for my family. :)

  2. says

    Vaishali…you said it! All this talk about sustainable meat….as if its more humane to eat that instead of non-sustainable meat? Killing is killing no matter which way you look at it. And to add to your argument…since I went vegan, my BP has come down w/o medication, my husband’s cholesterol has come down w/o medication, we have both lost weight and are at a comfortable weight…I mean, whats not to love about being vegan???

  3. says

    1. holy shit amazing post. great, great, amazing stuff. i personally think that the meat lobby pays those “ex-veg” folks to speak on meat’s behalf. it’s a propaganda ploy intended to keep the masses ignorant as to the real deal behind veganism and meat eating. bravo to you for this post!

    2. the soup looks spectacular! printing the recipe now 😀

    ~ Rick

  4. Anonymous says

    I know vegans say they are not eating meat because it is killing a life, but plants are alive as well. How do vegans justify eating plant based foods?

    • Anonymous says

      If you are truly concerned about plants being killed then a vegan diet is the way to go. Countless thousands more plants are fed to animals used for food, so by going vegan you kill far fewer plants. Also, plants do not possess a central nervous system, thus do not feel pain as a sentient life does. The difference between cutting up a cucumber and a live pig should be fairly obvious. When you cut the grass on your lawn it grows back, not so with the pig. I believe we are meant to eat the plants. We help plants continue to proliferate when we eat them. We eat, say, some blackberries and, in nature, we would poop and the seeds would sprout in the poop and grow a new bush. It’s a beautiful thing. Nothing but cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. grow from the poop made of the abused remains of a sentient being.

      • ANON says

        As far as you know, plants don’t feel pain. Are you sure that a central nervous system is the one that enables us animals to feel pain.
        Listen, to each their own, stop trying to convince us non-vegetarian eaters that we are killing an animal etc.,
        Its a personal choice and stop berating someone who eats meat and vice versa! Just because technology is available as a communicative tool, Vaishali, you don’t have to stuff your opinionated thoughts in a berating way. WE each have the freedom to do what pleases us, and have the good lord to answer to. So you choose your path and we choose ours!

        • says

          Anon, I open my blog to all opinions and therefore I’m posting your comment, but being civil wouldn’t hurt if you want me to take you seriously. I am not trying to convince anyone that meat-eaters are killing animals– that’s pretty much a given fact. Besides, as you can see from most of the comments here, I am not alone in wanting the killing to stop. Most meat-eaters choose to ignore the fact that animals suffer immensely before they become food for us. Ex-vegetarians are worse, because many of them know about the cruelty but don’t have the moral strength to stick with their choices.
          Finally, it’s my blog so goes without saying that I can opine all I want.

  5. says

    Though I do not feel strongly about one’s choice, I do believe that if they make a commitment and promote that commitment or endorse it, they should stick to it..

    I am on south beach diet phase 1 and am a true vegan for more than a week. It does feel good :)

  6. says

    K, Thanks!

    Kamini, kudos to you and your husband! And thanks for the endorsement– what a great example why a vegan lifestyle is better all-round.

    Rick, thanks, and hope you enjoy the stew!

    Anonymous, there is no evidence that plants have a nervous system and feel pain, the way animals clearly do. That said, here’s something else to think about: It takes 16 pounds of vegetable matter, or grains, to yield one pound of meat. In other words, a cow would eat 16 pounds of grain for each pound of meat you could harvest from that cow (or lamb or pig). Therefore, even if we vegetarians kill plants, we kill far fewer plants than meat-eaters do.

    Cumincoriandercardamom, good job! And good luck with the diet.

  7. says

    the reply from anonymous was laughable. that’s why it was left anonymous.

    people like that claim vegans have a haughty, “holier-than-thou” attitude but that’s hardly the case. we simply feel deep compassion for other sentient beings.

    “Early scriptures in the Pali Canon and the conventions of the Tibetan Bhavachakra classify sentient beings into five categories—divinities, humans, animals, tormented spirits, and denizens of hell—although sometimes the classification adds another category of demonic beings between divinities and humans.”

    I don’t see plants in there. Also, i truly think plants were put on earth for our use, whereas animals certainly were not. plants were put on earth for the use of the animals too.

    all of this adds up to a really weak point attempted by “anonymous”

    – Rick

  8. says

    Excellent post Vaishali.
    Lima bean curry looks awesome. I can see myself adding some almond or cashew butter to the gravy. But yours looks creamy even without them.

  9. says

    In the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, the author describes the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico as perhaps the healthiest, most robust people on the planet – they rarely consume meat (with the exception of occasional mice) and can run a hundred+ miles over steep canyon trails at the drop of a hat. Corn, beans, squash, chia and corn beer fuel their super-human abilities. Other ultrarunners, such as Ruth Heidrich, are also successful vegan athletes.

  10. says

    I stumbled across your blog yesterday when I was googling for a recipe for capsicum (bell peppers) stuffed with brown rice. Your blog is excellent. I am not a vegan, but I’ve recently started reconsidering my ethical position on the consumption of animal products. I think the delicious recipes on your website are inspiring. Well done!

  11. says

    Rick, I agree that animals weren’t put on earth for us.

    Thekitchenaffaire, thanks– and yes, those videos are heartbreaking.

    Pavani, some cashew paste would be nice, but this curry is very creamy because of the lima beans. Also, this keeps it low-fat.

    Solaripedia, that’s so interesting about the Tarahumara Indians– thanks for sharing. And yes, there are quite a few vegan athletes out there — Scott Jurek and Brendan Brazier also come to mind– showing us that one can be vegan and strong.

    G-Town Audrey, Welcome, and thanks
    for your lovely words.

  12. Anonymous says

    Hi Vaishali,

    Its actually wasting ones enerygy on people who lack determination and do not have the willpower to conquer over their tastebuds. Such people are bound to give thousands and lakhs of “escuses” disguised as health reason, no option etc. AS you rightly siad “If you really want to eat meat, do it and be honest enough to fess up to the fact that your cravings got the better of you, instead of trying to justify your choice as being more ethical than the one that millions of vegans around the world make each day.”
    For those who argu on the point that plants also have life, should be told, humans can reproduce plants, and asked can they “Reproduce animals and other living beings on which they feast upon”.

    God Bless.

  13. says

    Nisha, thanks for the support, and good point. Although humans do force animals to reproduce, especially in factory farms, it is not the gentle, natural, loving process that gardening is.

  14. Anonymous says

    I’ve been vegetarian since the mid 70’s because I care about animals. My feelings for animals have not changed.

  15. says

    I love this: “You cannot eat meat without taking a life”. I haven’t been vegan for very long, but once I realized the impact my foodchoices had on animals, the environment, and my health I knew I had to make the change. I can’t imagine going back. The thought of it makes me sick. And the thought of people claiming to be ethical meat eaters also makes me sick. There is no such thing.

    Also, nice stew :)

  16. AmyA says

    Looks delicious and can’t wait to try it soon!

    How much does the cup of dry lima beans yield when cooked? I don’t have time to cook the beans and wonder if I can you use frozen lima beans instead…?

  17. says

    Hi Vaishali, how are you? Very thoughtful post…lima bean and mushroom looks hearty and delicious…love the addition of different herbs other than cilantro and curry leaves we use…got to try this one :)

  18. says

    Anonymous, kudos to you!

    Richa, I agree–she sounds like a total idiot.

    Nikki, thanks! And congratulations for making the ethical choice.

    AmyA, 1 cup of dry beans roughly yields around 2 cups of cooked beans. You could definitely use frozen lima beans.

    Gita, thanks. I’ve been well– been trying to blog a little more after a small hiatus when things got a bit too busy. It’s also good to see you back and blogging.

  19. says

    hi! Great post, great recipe.
    Quick question, have you tried subbing the lima beans with any other type, say borlotti? My pantry has no lima beans at the moment.
    ~ thanks, Ingrid

  20. says

    Very powerfully written post, Vaishali! It’s really a shame how many people revert back to their old habits after a long-enduring success. The curry looks absolutely scrumptious-I especially like the addition of white wine. Having just returned from a year abroad in France, I am very eager to try out the addition of wine to Indian cooking :)

  21. Soumya says

    When you mention white wine, what kind should I use for cooking? I’ve never used wine for cooking, but always wanted to give it a try.

  22. says

    Mihika, thanks!

    Ingrid, feel free to use any bean that’s quite “buttery”– any white bean would do but I wouldn’t substitute with, say, black or red beans.

    Ameya, thanks!

    Soumya, use any wine that you would drink– don’t use wine specifically labeled “cooking wine” because that is usually of an inferior quality.

  23. says

    Wow this is a really great post. I don’t eat meat but a lot of my friends do. In fact a close friend and I have had countless arguments because she genuinely believes, “eating meat is essential to maintain the balance in our ecosystem.”

    Anyway my point is, your argument that that there is no ethical way to eat meat is bang on. The animal is dead. And sadly, vegetarian/vegan advocacy groups simply don’t have the resources to compete with large corporations that get a kick out of killing, culling and feeding that to humans.

    PS – Planning to try the recipe this weekend.

  24. Doob says

    I have mixed feelings on the whole plant based diet. On one hand you see people getting carried away with fake foods that are not any better for your health verses a lean cut of farm raised beef. Do I think a plant based diet is the way to go? I guess it is. I eat a plant based diet but I feel like it’s a glorified way of taking food away from farm animals. instead of killing them outright just eat their food. Don’t get me going on palm oil, yes let’s take away land from the rain forest to make vegan butter. don’t forget if you do dialysis most plant protein has too much potassium, and phosphorus for them to consume.

Leave a comment!