Forget Monday: How to Go Mostly Meatless for a Month
For the last few years, my family has had an on-and-off again affair with vegetarian diets. Cognizant of the high cost of meat on our budget, our health (diabetes and heart disease run rampant in our families) and on the environment, we've looked at ways to reduce our consumption.
Mostly, the affair has been off. A few days of lentils, 12-bean soup and iffy salads turns into a ribeye binge. We eat less meat than the 220-plus pounds that the USDA says most Americans eat each year, but we eat more than we think we should: In one recent weekly grocery trip, I purchased a 5-pound chicken, two pounds of beef, two pounds of farm raised salmon and a one-pound ham. That's at least 10 pounds of meat for a family of four--with two kids under age 6.
Why so much meat? For us, it's just easy to prepare. If you've spent as many years as I have learning to braise beef ribs and roast herb chicken, you really don't want to learn how to perfect tofu texture.
But it's our last meat purchase for a while--at least for a month. Let Mostly Meatless May begin. In an effort to rewire our diets, we're dropping most meat for the month and focusing on new sources of protein. Here are some simple rules that we think will encourage less meat consumption long term:
1. Each member of the family can eat 8 ounces of meat a week or about 2 pounds for the entire month.
2. Half of that meat must come from sustainably raised seafood like albacore tuna, farmed rainbow trout and wild-caught salmon from Alaska. Not sure what's sustainable? Here's a list from the Monterey Aquarium's Seafood Watch.
3. Pork and beef can can only be used as a seasoning agent. (This allows for soups from stock, for example, or vegetables flavored with a small piece of salted ham or bacon.)
That's it. I'll update this blog each Friday in May with links recipe we tried and notes on our successes and failures. You can find daily updates on our Twitter account, @Everwell.