Today’s post comes from a new friend of mine, Nicholas, who recently went meatless for the month of March. Enjoy!
I love meat. I love consuming it in many different forms. I love pairing beautifully-crafted wines from all over the world to meat. But I’ve come to love it in moderation for three primary reasons:
1) Health – I want to spend as many years as possible enjoying the company of my wife, our respective families, and our dear friends. Eating less meat will help with this.
2) Appreciation – I find that when I eat less meat, I appreciate its flavors, textures, etc. far more than I do when I’m constantly stuffing my face with it. Since it was once a living creature, I feel a sense of obligation to appreciate what I’m eating.
3) Quality – Factory farms are vile, nasty places that exist for one reason: lack of consumer responsibility. If we pay attention to where our meat comes from and demand less of it, these factory farms, which exist solely to meet consumer demand, will cease to exist.
In November of last year, I began participating in Meatless Monday, in large part due to these three reasons and also because Nicole’s powers of persuasion are not to be underestimated. I don’t exclude seafood from my meatless diet; I refer to this as “Minnesota Meatless”. Growing up and living here in MN, I never knew a vegetarian who didn’t eat seafood until a handful of years ago; pescatarian was a word that was not in my vocabulary.
Meatless Monday was easy. There were a couple of challenges here and there, days where I would be eating two meals at the office or a family holiday dinner that is traditionally very meat heavy, but I adapted to it without issue. The biggest challenge, really, was just remembering, getting into the habit. And Nicole’s frequent tweets were tremendously helpful with that. I decided at the end of January that if I could get through Meatless Monday in February successfully, I would take on a much larger challenge in creativity and discipline in the form of Meatless March. Why March? Momentum, and because alliteration is fun.
I didn’t have much of a game plan going into Meatless March. Breakfast is almost always meatless for me, so I didn’t have to change anything there. I knew that I would have to be diligent about bringing my lunch to work; the cafeteria options, especially meatless options, are… depressing. I brought a lot of tuna salad sandwiches for lunch. Not terribly creative, but not depressing either. I actually love tuna. It’s horribly overfished, of course, so as I increased my consumption of it I made sure to buy only sustainable options that were pole or line caught. It’s more expensive, but it’s more responsible and it’s actually a better, more flavorful product.
I did bookmark a number of different meat-free recipes that I thought would be fun to try for weeknight dinners or weekend lunches & dinners, but, frankly, I didn’t get to most of them. Meat actually lifts right out of the majority of the meals that we make at home, especially the pastas. That meat does a lot for variety though, so we introduced a couple of new pastas into our rotation: a tomato bruschetta pasta that we threw together randomly one afternoon and the creamy avocado pasta from ohsheglows.com. Here’s our take on the latter’s ingredient list; I’ve bolded where we’ve slightly modified the original:
1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
1 small lemon, juiced + lemon zest to garnish
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup (packed) Fresh Basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 ounces Cavatappi pasta
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
We’ve made this creamy avocado pasta at least seven or eight times now, and we’ve had a lot of fun pairing different wines to it. Even with the extra lemon juice, the pasta really needs some acidity to cut through the creaminess of the avocado. Our most successful pairings have been a Sauvignon Blanc from Saracina Ranch, which played nicely with the greener ingredients in the dish, and the recently-released 2011 Indica rosé from LIOCO. I really enjoyed the LIOCO because the dish elevated the wine, really popping its citrus notes, as much as the wine elevated the dish.
Dining out, which we do on a fairly regular basis, was a fun part of our Meatless March adventure as well. We didn’t try a lot of new places in March, but our meatless effort took us to different items on the menu at our regular spots. It was really easy to go meatless at Pizzeria Lola; I love their classic Margherita and Old Reliable. We also enjoyed some terrific meat-free options at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in St. Paul.
I’m not going to lie; as the end of Meatless March approached, I developed some serious cravings. The Cuban panini at Pairings Food & Wine Market. Natedogs. Bacon, in general. In the end, the first meat I stuffed in my face was the Nic Burger at the bar at the Nicollet Island Inn, and it was glorious.
My wife Katie has been tremendously supportive during all of this. She has been an active participant in Meatless Monday, and she only deviated from Meatless March thrice. All three deviations were with her #MeatMistress Miranda. I can’t thank Katie enough for tolerating my newfound hippie ways.
This has been a lifestyle change and an educational process. I have no aspirations or desire to become vegetarian or vegan, but I am now attempting to be “Mostly Meatless” by continuing to participate in Meatless Monday and by not consuming (a conservative portion of) meat at more than one meal each of the other days of the week. I think this is quite achievable. For my next challenge, I’m planning to convert from Minnesota Meatless to truly meatless on Meatless Monday beginning in November. If that’s successful, it could lead to a very challenging Meatless March in 2013.
Follow my meatless adventures on Twitter!