Meatless Monday

I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of a tree-hugger: I bike to work every day, we have only one car (a Prius), I am fanatical about turning off lights and recycling, and I give my wife grief every time she decides to drive down to the Whole Foods instead of walking. I also tend to judge other people when they are not as committed to doing their best in these areas, which is perhaps a dead give away for an “environmentalist”.

This post, though, is not designed to make you feel bad (although if it does, that is a nice by product). No, instead I am writing about a little mini-milestone that I had yesterday: it was the first day where I consciously elected to not eat any meat. I am sure there have been times in the past where I had made it through the day without scarfing down any animal flesh, but it was never by design.

Before you get all hot and bothered, I am not going full on Veggie, and certainly not Vegan (No cheese? No eggs? No way), but I have decided, at least for this week to honor the “meatless Monday” movement. I have absolutely no clue who started it, but the premise is pretty easy (and in the name)–give up meat on Mondays. It is good for the environment (much more energy goes into the production of meat) and no doubt better for your health to not choke down so many formally walking, flying, or swimming beings.

Again, don’t worry, I am not getting any where close to being philosophical on this issue. After all, many of my relatives were farmers in the Midwest. The number one rule of the farm?

“Don’t name the animals.”

I will not be giving up bacon, beef, or salmon (just to name a few) any time soon.

I have always kind of admired vegetarians, though–not so much for their belief in animal rights or for the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle or anything like that. I rarely passed up an opportunity to question their sanity or point out the hypocrisy of their leather shoes. No, I admired their will power. In a country that is obsessed with emphasizing the carnivore, they are able to say “no thanks, I’ll just have a head of lettuce.”

I was also more than a little jealous that they had an additional reason to judge other people for their choices and pretty much owned the moral high ground (please don’t bring up Pescatorians [or whatever “vegetarians” who also eat fish call themselves–give it up, you are not any better than the rest of us] and certainly not Vegans since they probably all breast feed their children–doesn’t that count?): Being able to feel morally superior is always one of my goals in life.

The desire to add an additional area of moral superiority never reached the point that I ever considered becoming a full-blown Mr. Green Jeans, though. In fact, I was once dating a woman who wanted to eliminate meat from her diet since she “had seen the light”.

I promptly saw myself out.

So why now? I was reading foodwineclick (great blog, if you have not checked it out) and he had a recipe for a meatless chilli that looked really good and I decided why not? I could give up meat one day a week. Yesterday, therefore, was my first Meatless Monday, which I spent at our neighborhood restaurant (I thought about making the chilli, but baby steps, baby steps). Sure the gnocchi I ordered was so laden with butter and cheese that there certainly were no health benefits derived from my inaugural foray into another echelon of tree-huggedness, but, well, it’s a first step. I thought about taking a bite of my son’s half-eaten hamburger since I am a charter member of the clean plate club, but I let it go (how’s that for will power?).

So for now, I am on the Meatless Monday bandwagon, and I am looking forward to next week.

Or not.

It is probably even money that I will completely forget and devour 37% of a cow

20130507-153223.jpgYes, I realize that drinking a French wine is not as environmentally responsible as drinking a local wine, but it was a Sancerre!

What do you think about Vegetarians? Meatless Monday?

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Humor, Meatless Monday, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Meatless Monday

  1. There’s no way to enjoy veggie food without cheese…

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  2. We do do meatless Thursdays. The trick is to put lots of treats in the vegetarian meal like nuts and cheese and homemade bread crumbs. The desert on the meatless day is a little more special.

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  3. Marlene Paulson says:

    Hey from Marlene of Yountville. Surprise, I owned a vegetarian restaurant in New Orleans for 9 years! Named top 6 in the country by Self Magazine. Now here is the deal that is most important! Make sure you know where your food comes from and what is in it. Being stamped organic doesn’t mean much anymore as it has become a business in and of itself. Now, I, was not a vegetarian, but a capitalist and it was a great business niche in a city of lard and deep fried. But it did change my lifestyle….I only ate beef if I were going to the best steak house in town. I cut out bacon all together and once the body adjusted to that, well, if I eat bacon now, the gall
    bladder says, what’s up with that! And by the way, pigs are not treated very nicely. I become more of a purest in making food special instead of just eating to be eating.

    With your new consciousness about food, your palate will become as defined for food as you have developed for wine. Enjoy! And don’t get me started on vegan. Most of the time I find it like a religious cult and most do not last but a few months and are still wearing leather shoes. If you go vegan, go all the way baby, or don’t get on your high horse(watch Portlandia).

    And one last thing, just because there is not meat on the plate, there is not an empty space. Fill it with some wonderful new things. You will also save a fortune!

    Love your posts!
    Marlene(and by the way, I am no longer at Cornerstone)

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    • Marlene, you are the best! I only wish I would have been able to get to your restaurant! NO bacon? What on earth does that mean? I know that hogs are not treated well, but I fear that chickens face even crueler treatment.

      You left Cornerstone?!? Send me an email and give me the scoop: jeff (at) thedrunkencyclist (dot) com.

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      • Marlene Paulson says:

        You are correct, chickens have a much tougher time. And in a previous story recently discovered that the same chicks from one abusive factory went to abusive chicken farms and free-range organic farms….So there you have it. Those customers that go to fast retailer grocery stores or walk to Whole Paycheck buying organic! same chick farm. It truly is the paper trail so to speak.
        I think it was finally determined that the h1n1 that came from hogs, were American(SF) producers with pigs in Mexico under horrific conditions and the run off water went into the village without inspection or environmental controls. If “they” would have just treated the pigs nicely, it would have never happened.

        All that said, you will need lots of wine as you start to discover where things come from and at what cost to humans as well as animals. We the consumer must become educated about the cycle of life!

        And yes, I wish you would have gotten to eat at the restaurant, it rocked. Literally, not your norm, but that should not surprise you! Incredible music, hip decor, and yes Napa Valley wines(when I knew nothing about Napa Valley) and my favorite Italian wines. Would not do the big corps! At that time Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay sold for $35 a bottle with your dinner. YUM!

        Would open another in a East Coast minute but the new economy is not the same. When I started the restaurant, my bank let me borrow money on my word and yes of course paper to confirm.

        Will email and as Paul Harvey would say “with the rest of the story”!

        You are a drunken cyclist rockstar!
        Marlene

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  4. Stephen Ballard says:

    With all the “likes” you’ve been posting on my blog, I had to spend some time on yours, and glad I did. My partner wouldn’t tolerate going meatless, so I usually have meatless lunches during the week, which translates into a lot of Chinese food, often with tofu (though now I feel guilty for having gone to Chipotle today and had pork). Chinese is actually the most affordable option in my downtown DC neighborhood. Weekends are spent at Annefield tending to the wine grapes, where bacon reigns supreme.

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  5. I also admire vegetarians for their sheer willpower, but I myself will never be one of them. The last time I went a full day without consuming some form of animal flesh was a dark November day in 2012, and it was the result of a mad, care-free night of bar hopping which left me with no money and nothing to eat in my apartment but corn flakes and a stick of butter. (PS: don’t ever try to make milk out of a stick of butter and tap water. It doesn’t work.)

    And, although I freely admit I read this on a bumper sticker somewhere long ago, I still use it whenever the opportunity arises: If we weren’t supposed to eat animals, why are they made out of meat?

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  6. Jolly good post. (I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure it’s your fault that I feel a British accent coming on).

    In answer to your question: “1) What do you think about Vegetarians? 2) Meatless Monday?”

    1) Some of my best friends are vegetarians. I love them anyway. 2) I think we, in America, eat waaaay too much meat, so I’m in favor of anything that makes us conscious of that.

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    • I occasionally have the urge to speak with a British accent as well (but I clearly have issues….). Classic responses–I am cautious around vegetarians, fearing they may snap at any point. And yes, far too much meat.

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  7. Wonderful!! I’m not a vegetarian but I have many meatless days. And I almost never eat red meat. I do it mostly for the health benefits. As a heart attack survivor, I’m hyper conscious of everything I do.

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  8. PSsquared says:

    We are just starting to incorporate a few meatless days, as well. I’m not going to give up meat or fish either, but after watching Forks Over Knives, there were some compelling arguments in favor of less meat (animal protein) consumption. When we first tried it, my cheese consumption skyrocketed. So now we’re trying to find ways to not skyrocket (it’s a verb, trust me) our cholesterol, too. But a quinoa/refried bean/grilled veggie burrito? Or pesto pasta? I can live with that. Cheers.

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  9. PSsquared says:

    oops, skyrocket IS a verb, but split infinitives are never acceptable. Sorry about that.

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  10. I am a 95% veggie person (I mostly lose will power near in-n-out and when traveling).

    I recently had a boca burger (great protein source and low in calories) barbequed on a grill and covered in a spice rub traditionally used on chicken but they were also putting it on pork ribs and duck thighs. If you have a family spice rub, go buy a boca burger and get a grillin’ (it also works in an oven or a toaster/convection oven!). Oh, and barbeque sauce is also delicious. Some of the veggie burgers are also delicious as is. I find the traditional basic Boca is the most like a bland white meat as a starting point.

    For kids, Kraft or Amy’s macaroni and cheese out of a box is a great starting point or you could feature a peanut (or almond nut?) and jelly sandwich for dinner!

    The point is to keep trying! Cheese can make eating veggie food easier, but try to limit the cheese or you will gain weight. You can always go out/order in a veggie pizza (it is quite tasty). It will typically have less fat and calories than a regular cheese pizza! Or you could buy a very cheap cheese pizza (thus very little cheese) and make it extrodinary with lots of veggies! Then you can let the kids decide what they want on their slices!

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    • It takes all the will power I can muster to not get the double-double and just get the standard size burger (Animal style, of course!). The problem with our younger son is that he really does not like cheese. That is why I am convinced that my wife had an affair….

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  11. waywardwine says:

    Bravo for the self-experiment. I grew up with my father’s cattle ranch. It wasn’t a meal without steak. Three years ago, I switched to eating vegetarian to see what would happen physically: would I loose energy? Would I break? Would I start talking to trees? Also, too many studies about environmental destruction, male cancer, cholesterol, heart attacks et cetera worried me.

    Cheese, milk, and eggs were too difficult to avoid (they’re in everything). They also taste fantastic (Montgomery’s Cheddar is magic). If anyone cooked me something, I would eat it. How dare I say no to homemade haggis from a Glaswegian couple? Also wasting the meat is worse environmentally. The dang animal died for my plate! Eat it!

    Three plus years on I have no complaints. Nothing changed physically. If anything, eating veg forced me to learn how to cook. I learned how you can make anything taste like anything if you try (just add oil and garlic). Adding meat was just a protein crutch (everything from bread to artichokes has adequate daily protein).

    It’s fascist and foolish to go full vegetarian (let alone vegan). Most winemakers use isinglass (fish bladder) or egg white to fine out heavy colloids and tannins. Imagine what else has animal in it!

    The body is addicted to habit and routine. Evolution probably favored those who ate consistently (while killing off those who ate dare foods like poisonous fruits).

    Have fun with Mondays. Keep drinking Sancerre (it probably hurt the environment less than that industrially farmed and processed Napa Cab).

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    • Very interesting point: “Eating veg forced me to learn how to cook.” I wonder how much we all rely too heavily on the “naturally” occurring flavors in meat to do some of the “heavy lifting” for us in the kitchen?

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      • waywardwine says:

        It’s very true that cooking meats certain ways brings a lot of flavor (grilling metamorphizes steak). Conversely, bbq sauce, spice rubs, cream sauce, deep frying, etc can really obliterate any original meat’s flavor. It’s as if we eat the steak for the A1 sauce and not the other way around.

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      • Ha! You’re so right!

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  12. tomsimard says:

    While I’m not a vegetarian, it’s been a long time since I consumed meat like I did growing up. (I mean, bacon for breakfast!) I probably eat meat once or twice a month, and frankly, don’t think I’d have a problem giving it up completely. It’s opened up a wide variety of foods and tastes, which were before unknown.

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  13. I try have a clandestine meatless meal every once in a while, but it almost always ends with my husband and teenage son looking at their plates and saying, “Where’s the meat group?”. I’ll keep trying. Love the Sancerre, btw . . . Salud!

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  14. I was 12 when I turned veggie. My friend and I were in town and picked up some leaflets about how animals were killed for meat, and we both decided we were never going to eat meat again. My friend’s mum said no way, whereas my mum said OK…I think she was wondering how long I would keep it up. Well, it’s been 23 years and I haven’t knowlingly eaten a piece of meat since then.

    I used to be a holier-than-thou vegetarian, and would refuse to touch food if it had been anywhere near a piece of meat, and I’d check the ingredients list of just anything before I bought it to see if there were any animal derived ingredients in it. These days I’m a bad vegetarian – I eat fish, I’ll peel the ham out of a ham and cheese sandwich and eat the rest of it, and if something’s been cooked in meat stock…well, as long as I don’t *know* it has, then ignorance is bliss. This mainly came about as a result of a four month trip to South America. That was when I realised that being a vegetarian is a luxury that many people in the developing world simply can’t afford.

    Despite my lapses, I still won’t eat a piece of meat. Partly that’s because it’s been so long since I last ate any that I have no desire to. But it’s also because I don’t agree with the farming practices behind a lot of the meat that’s sold in the shops. If you could guarantee that every animal that ended up on my plate had led a happy, healthy life before it was slaughtered, then I would probably be happy to eat it. But until then, I’ll stick to my veggies.

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  15. food for thought: everything we consume, be it meat or vegetable, has given up its existence to perpetuate ours. so whatever we choose to eat, and for whatever reasons, we should at least consume it in the spirit of gratitude. (stepping down from soapbox now)

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  16. dakegrodad says:

    meatless monday didn’t work for me I had BBQ hamburgers, But they were made fresh at home and yummy

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  17. Nicolas says:

    More for the rest of us! 🙂

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  18. Jeff, thanks for the reference! For the record, I am only an occasional Meatless Monday person, so I can’t go all high and mighty on you! My Don Quixote style veggie meal quest is to find one that really screams “serve with a big red wine!”. I almost always find whites go better with the vegetarian dishes I try.

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    • I was all set to make your chili the other night, but I thought we had a can of tomatoes already at home (we didn’t). So I made a hot black bean salad over rice. At least the older kid liked it….

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