Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meatless Beatle

This one's for you, Sir Paul.

Sir Paul McCartney has asked the European Union to consider adopting Meatless Mondays. Al Gore, climate change experts and other environmentalists are also urging people to eschew meat once a week. Why? According to its proponents, a reduction of meat consumption can positively affect greenhouse gas production, river and stream pollution, water consumption, and dependence on fossil fuels. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called eating less meat "one of the most important personal choices we can make to address climate change."

The push to eat locally produced foods (thereby cutting down on gas consumption and emissions) is good for the environment and also the local community. We like to support local businesses when we can. For two years, we tried to belong to a CSA, but it failed two years in a row. The first year, there wasn't enough interest. The second year, there weren't enough crops. Maybe we need to pick another farm, although Farmer Troy seems like a very agreeable fellow.

This newer twist, to eat local, sustainable plant based products, goes that much further. Sir Paul and others want governments to be the ones to take the bull by the horns to reduce consumption. So far, Baltimore, MD public schools are on board, as is Covington, KY. Globally, it's picking up popularity in Canada, Brazil, Belgium, Taiwan, Finland and Tel Aviv, Israel. Exactly what each of these places is doing for the movement, I'm not sure, but they all seem to support it.

Changing one's personal eating habits for the sake of the greater good is not a new idea. Meatless Monday, in fact, is a term from WWI when our government encouraged us to do our part to help the war effort. It seems generations before mine were much more willing to give things up for a cause. I think we were less cynical about government then, in those pre-nixon days. What do I know about it, though? I'm only 30.

Darling Husband and I didn't actually discuss joining in with Meatless Mondays, and I'm not sure we've officially decided to do this. It just so happened that Monday's dinner was meatless. It was not, however, entirely vegetarian and certainly wasn't vegan. It could've been, but we weren't thinking about the connection until the very end. Sorry, Sir Paul.

My mother bought too much baby bok choy, and so gifted some to us. We chopped it into 1 inch pieces (it was remarkably teenaged for being termed "baby"-- much larger than I expected it to be. Many baby bok choy are the size of your palm. These were 3x as large, but still significantly smaller than traditional bok choy) and stir fried it with matchstick carrots, bamboo shoots, baby corn and scallions. Darling Husband was in charge of tofu and sauce. For the tofu, he first pressed much of the liquid out of it using a cutting board and a jug of cider for weight. Then he cut it into somewhat flat squares and fried it, getting a nice, crispy texture and producing tofu that didn't fall apart when stirred into the dish. For the sauce, he used sambol olek, oyster sauce, sugar and black vinegar. I made rice, flavoring it with a few dashes of ground cayenne and a couple of frozen cubes of turkey stock.

The turkey stock and the oyster sauce negates the vegetarian idea. The imported vinegar, sambol olek, oyster sauce and non-local corn and bok choy blew the whole reduction of fossil fuels thing out of the water. Sorry, Sir Paul. We'll plan ahead next time. In the spirit of cutting back on our meat consumption, both in terms of buying meat (we had considered pork for the dish) and consuming meat (health benefits), we did seem to do that. So I think it's a move in the right direction, as far as Meatless Mondays is concerned.


  1. Are fish allowed on "meatless" Monday? It is said that the European discovery of America was aided by the Catholic Church's declaration that fish were acceptable as a meat substitute on meatless Fridays and feast days. This was a boost to the fishing industry, which led to greater maritime skills and, ultimately, to the European discovery of the new world. Or, so it is said.

  2. Well, from what I can tell, the "meat industry" is what's targeted here, and that's primarily referred to as "livestock." I don't think fish generally fall into that category, although I don't know about farmed fish. One of the problems is the methane produced by flatulent livestock. Do fish toot? Not nearly so much as a cow, I'm thinking. So I would tend to follow Catholisism's meatless rules. Although, I understand that Sir Paul is a vegan so he'd be against fish. Presumably he's also Anglican.