January 11, 2013

Meat-Free in 2013

If you are working up a list of New Years resolutions, may I encourage you to try veganism? The NY Times Well Blog recently featured a column by Martha Rose Schulman outlining a week's worth of vegan recipes for the newly resolved. The recipes looked great (I can't wait to make the pho) and I was encouraged by the author's persuasion towards using ingredients she already had in her fridge as well as her deliberate commitment to cooking.

Whenever we make a change to our diets, we return to cooking. By cooking our meals we know exactly what is going into each dish and are encouraged to make more healthful decisions for our families and friends. Looking at a vat of oil will turn your mind quickly from french fries to roasted potato wedges, and a bowl of jiggling egg yolks may persuade you to substitute sweet potato in your challah (as featured above). That being said, cooking isn't always a convenient activity and one seldom has hours to make braided loaves, layered casseroles, or lasagna from scratch. This may be a cooking blog, but I am no housewife. I make big pots of soup that last for multiple lunches, order Thai delivery when I'm getting home at 9, and occasionally throw some carrots, Braggs and vinegar into a pot of ramen and call it a day. We are just doing our best over here.

A friend passed along an old TED talk this week that reminded me again of my concerns surrounding food. It is true beyond a shadow of doubt that our national consumption of meat is unsustainable, and that as countries take on a more Westernized diet and consume more and more meat, the world's resources are placed in jeopardy. The amount of grain it takes to feed one cow is flagrantly inefficient when compared with the product, the amount of meat that is produced. And from where do these steaks originate? Factories, farms, pink Styrofoam platters? Who could know? Our relationship to the food we eat is increasingly disconnected and unsettling.

How do cities sustain themselves? This city of more than 8 million people consumes an excessive amount of products from an international harvest with the exception of a few select Manhattan restaurants garnishing their salads with organic local radish shavings. People are still talking about bacon. People are ordering long plates of folded, cured meats. Yesterday, in January, in New York,  I enjoyed a banana and two tomatoes, neither of which are remotely local or seasonal.  I rarely write about such concerns on this blog as it has a way of reminding me of the heavy boots time we are in these days: our mutual disconnection and pastoral fetish with the country, our lack of routine, shared, community meals, and our stubbornness to defend our sense of self and all actions, routines, and practices pertaining to it.

Please take a moment to consider making an effort to reduce or eliminate meat from your diet this year. If you are ready to make any step towards a vegetarian or vegan diet (no matter how small), I commend you and also invite you to come eat Southern Style Drumsticks with me at Foodswings.

 Here's to 2013. Here's to small steps towards more sustainable lifestyles.


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