One of my New Year’s resolutions has been to eat less meat. For me, it’s an environmental issue far more than an ethical or health one. I’ve been strongly influenced by recent articles and studies on the global temperature being affected by animal agriculture and documentaries such as Cowspiracy (watch it on Netflix) that explain how reducing and/or eliminating meat is the single most effective thing one can do to decrease one’s carbon footprint. The evidence is there, even if it isn’t what I want to hear.
At first I thought I’d go full-out vegetarian, but then I realized that would be far too much of a shock to my body, my family, my cooking habits, and my insistence on eating whatever is served to me wherever I go. (That last point is something I’ll never be able to let go. I believe too strongly in accepting hospitality graciously at all times, even if it isn’t what I’d choose on my own.) Then there’s the freezer-full of locally raised, grass-fed lamb and pork that I couldn’t ignore. I’ve settled on significant reduction (meat only twice a week) and so far it’s going well.
The family doesn’t mind. Even Jason, my body-building-protein-addict husband, says he hasn’t noticed a difference. I make a point of incorporating protein into every meal – beans, lentils, tofu, sprouted mung beans, paneer, eggs, etc.
Interestingly, the further I move away from meat, the less appealing it is. The impossible happened this morning when I came downstairs, smelled the bacon Jason was cooking for breakfast, and felt repulsed. The kitchen smelled disgustingly animal-like, and I had to open a window to stop from gagging. Bacon!! I used to love bacon!
I’ve gotten several new cookbooks out of the library, which helps immensely when it comes to figuring out dinner. I’d heard a lot about Ottolenghi, the Middle Eastern-inspired cookbook named after a famous restaurant in London, but hadn’t actually used it until recently. Even though it contains meat recipes, there’s a wonderful focus on vegetables that most conventional cookbooks don’t have. I’ve made lots of delicious things, including a delicious version of Egyption kosherie – one of my favourite lentil dishes. I also love Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat.
It’s an ongoing challenge. Every day I face the question of what to make for dinner and it always takes greater planning than simply thawing out a package of sausage or chicken. Slowly but surely, I’m building up a bigger and better repertoire of vegetarian mains. Hopefully it becomes easier over time.