I recently heard that Americans eat 1/6th of the world’s meat supply, a staggering number when you consider how small a percentage of the total world population we are- which made me do some serious thinking while doing my weekly groceries- I take it for granted that a large number of my meals center around meat – I eat a turkey sandwich for lunch most days, and if I eat out, I usually get a meat dish. Then on weeknights, I often make a large meal on Sunday or Monday and reheat for the rest of the week- maybe a pasta dish, but often a roast or chicken that can be reused several different ways- so on an average week, I am guessing eat anywhere between 9-15 meals with meat as the main component.
Basically, modern Americans of almost any financial means are awash in cheap, accessible animal protein, which raises some hairy questions for omnivores. The debate over local, seasonal, sustainable food has been written about by people much more eloquent and knowledgeable than I, so I’ll stay away from that here, but many aspects of industrialized meat consumption are problematic- from how the animal is treated, to the quality of meat produced at the end. For me, and many Americans, meat-eating has gotten way off track, and a world away from how our ancestors, and even our parents as children, consumed meat.
So, on a whim yesterday (the heat had me staying inside next to my window A/C unit, thinking of low-cost projects to fill my time), I decided to forgo meat for the next seven days in favor of vegetable- and fruit-focused meals – and see what happens.
My roommate asked me if this was for morals or for health this morning as I packed my salad, and I guess the reasons encapsulate both of those reasons in some way, and neither of those reasons in others. Do I think its immoral to eat meat? In short, no. Do I think its moral to consume thoughtlessly, without appreciating both your food and its source? No (do I always do a good job of keeping that in mind? Still no. And this project is an attempt to rectify that, at least partially.
Similarly, as far as health is concerned, I’m not aiming to come up with the perfect diet, but to use this week as an opportunity push myself to try new recipes, eat more vegetables, and hopefully, maybe, get a little bit closer to that elusive ideal- “balance.”
Suggested Listening: The Great Carnivore/Vegetarian Debate
Whoops! Woke up too late for breakfast. I hustled to the Headhouse Farmer’s Market, picked up some fresh local veggies and eggs, then went by Whole Foods to get dry goods and avocados and lemons instead, and kept hunger at bay by tasting samples while wandering around.
Lunch- Whole Foods Salad Bar
Typically, at a prepared food counter, I would get a sandwich (mmm…. sandwiches), but today I tried putting a number of veggie options on top of a bed of greens- a rice and beans salad, grilled plantains, carrot salad (hidden under the rice), garlic pasta, quinoa salad, and a baked polenta and tomato dish. Everything was tasty, except for the quinoa- which I hope is more about their preparation that my feelings on the actual dish, since I bought a bunch of quinoa from the Whole Foods bulk department!
Dinner- Veggie Burger at Frankford Hall
Again, whoops! Eating a veggie burger and fries was a bit of a cop-out, since the idea is to eat veggie-centered meals, instead of ersatz meat in a typical American meal- a burger and fries. But I was eating dinner with Meg and a friend at Frankford Hall, one of my favorite spots in Philly for a beer and a sausage, so I should get some credit for not caving one day in and getting a bratwurst, right?
Will I make it all seven days? Will I forget and eat a hot dog on the 4th? Will I discover a latent love of kale? Stay tuned….