The new dietary guidelines are coming out, and this week it was a big deal to find out that they called for eating less meat. My mom always acted as if we would immediately die of a protein deficiency if we didn't have meat with every meal except breakfast. (I'm not sure why that meal was exempt, but considering how dry and flavorless she could render any cut of meat, I didn't ask questions.) The older cookbooks (aside from those of the dubious health food variety) suggest she was not alone in her meat veneration. The meatless recipes, when they exist at all, are shoved off in a corner and apologetically mentioned as ways to save money or survive Lent.
I guess the point of this whole convoluted introduction is that I'm going to show you a couple of vintage, non-healthy, "meatless" recipes. So if you get tired of all my asides, you should have skipped these first two paragraphs and gone straight to the pictures.
Cooking With Sour Cream and Buttermilk by the Culinary Arts Institute (1965) suggests this as a "delightful main dish for a Lenten luncheon":
The Cheese Luncheon Pie is basically mashed potatoes mixed with eggs, cottage cheese, and sour cream, then baked in a pie shell. With all the cheese, cream, and eggs (not to mention a pastry crust!), this may sound like a nutritional disaster, but the note also assures us this is "full of flavor and food value." I wonder what food value is, anyway. (Here it seems to be code for saturated fat, but maybe they mean vitamins? Protein? Ability to be digested?) It also makes me wonder if there anything I could eat that wouldn't have food value. (Wood chips, I guess? So maybe boasting about "food value" is pretty pointless. It could just mean the food is, technically, food.)
Lent allows for fish, too, so "meatless" sections often had plenty of seafood dishes:
Is it just me, or can you see a skull in the upper right corner of the picture too? Part of that top star seems merged into a skeletal face.... Maybe it's trying to warn us that the oysters aren't so fresh?
At first I thought Oyster Loaf might be a variation on meatloaf, with ground up oysters held together with eggs, crackers, etc. Instead, this is an arts and crafts project recipe, elaborately constructed with an unsliced loaf of bread scooped out and toasted, only to be refilled with a thick milk, oyster, tomato, and sour cream sauce so it can go soggy within minutes of the starry bread cutouts being placed triumphantly atop the steaming mass.
Or the family could have had Lenten fish sticks instead.