So Meatless March is over! It’s funny; I thought when I was done with Meatless March, we’d run out and grab the first cheeseburger we could find. And while I still could go for Pho or something, I actually have no meat cravings whatsoever today (Saturday; posting this late), and didn’t eat it yesterday despite the fact it was technically April (John and I also said that we’d have our first meat meal together). Every meat thing I think to make for dinner tonight either sounds eh, or that the meat isn’t really necessary. Isn’t that weird? I’ll probably get over it.
John and I set out to do this partly as an experiment, but mostly on a lark/because it sounded fun and challenging. But since a City Paper columnist randomly interviewed me about my reasonings and what I learned from the experience, I actually ended up giving it more thought than I might have intended to do (though not until after the interview, haha – we’ll see how coherent I sound if they run something).
You’ll consider to see a lot of non meat-based recipes on the blog for a couple reasons:
*I’m thinking about staying vegetarian for breakfast/lunch only, or at least close to it. We’ll see how it goes.
*We’re really going to try to limit our meat consumption, at least when it comes to home cooking, strictly to meat that’s pastured, hormone-free, local when possible, etc. We take a lot of steps towards that anyway (buying the pig, getting most of our beef at the market) but we want to make the full switch (we’ve always been slackers about chicken, for example) and I think MMM taught us that we can get away with being less dependent on meat so we can afford to be thoughtful and splurge when we do have it.
*I bought a bunch of stuff for Meatless March that we haven’t used up yet (tofu for example)
*So many recipes that we wanted to try (homemade falafel, veggie burgers from scratch, etc.) we never got around to this month.
So don’t expect Mostly Meatless April per se (I mean, there isn’t even alliteration, and we’ve got our pork party coming up at the end of the month), but we’ll see how things go. Read beyond the jump if you’re interested in more details on how things went this month.
Cooking: We won’t be making tempeh again anytime soon, but seitan wasn’t bad. I ended up prefering recipes that used alternate protein sources like chickpeas to the “fake meat” forays, as a rule. And some of these were really terrific, including mushroom marsala and chickpeas masala (so glad we have leftover sauce from that). On the convenience food side of things, we didn’t find the perfect frozen veggie burgers, but I thought Quorn meatballs were pretty good (bought some more at Wegmans Sunday).
Restaurants: Eating out was an interesting experience. It paid to ask questions – turns out that artichoke soup might be chicken broth based. Some places I thought would be challenging were really vegetarian-sensitive – I figured I could easily get eggplant parmesan at Carmine’s, but I didn’t expect them to have a whole menu of vegetarian, gluten-free, allergy-sensitive descriptions and options.
In general, we ate really well at Asian restaurants (I had a lot of tofu for lunch), but Korean was an exception here – everything had seafood at a minimum, and many items had pork as well (I ended up eating around the pork when I was eating family style with others at Honey Pig).
We made some cool discoveries, like the vegetarian “cheesesteak” at Asylum, a really fun bar, and a delicious six course vegetarian family style dinner at Dino, celebrating two farms. I’d hoped to get Ethiopian (where I always order the veg platter anyway) and visit Sunflower vegetarian (we haven’t been in years), but we never got around to it.
Exceptions: It was called Mostly Meatless March for a reason; I wanted the flexibility to make exceptions for work situations, etc. Though John went more cold turkey (beyond seafood at dinner and not really caring about meat-based broths), this is when I ended up having a little meat here and there. They mostly fell into the category of “not wanting to be rude/feeling self conscious”, though I’ll admit one thing was just curiosity because I heard it was a house speciality (the sausage).
*I had a couple bites of duck at this media preview for a dinner theatre type thing. It was put in front of me (and actually wasn’t great).
*During a lunch at a hotel, the new chef sent out short rib sliders; I had probably half of one.
*I had a taste of each person’s entry into our work chili cookoff, though I brought vegetarian as my own entry and ate that for lunch.
*The exception to the “no seafood at lunch” rule came when John’s brother bought us awesome crab cakes as a favor for helping him move. Man, were those good; no regrets here.
*I had a bite of the housemade sausage at the media dinner for Urbana’s new chef.
The hardest parts: Honestly, I didn’t really miss meat much. My biggest cravings were Pho on colder days, Peruvian chicken when I drove by on the way home, and an occasional longing for lamb when Tasty Kebob’s fumes hit me at lunchtime. I never really wanted beef, though I’m not a huge steak person and rarely have a burger. Surprisingly, I didn’t think about bacon at all, which I’m notorious for loving.
It usually wasn’t hard to find something to eat on the menu; the vegetarian option, though, often wasn’t the most healthy option (pizza, pasta, etc.), or wasn’t quite to my taste (this autumy pasta dish I really didn’t care for at a nice restaurant; too sweet and not really seasonally appropriate). At bars, I ate a lot of quesadillas (poor me, haha).
That said, the thing I hated most was having people accomodate me. It felt rude. I didn’t like asking hosts to cater to my restrictions, or even chefs, etc. Especially since I wasn’t a “real” vegetarian. But it just goes against my nature to be more accomodating and go with the flow; plus, I really am not a fan of picky eaters, so it felt like I was joining their club. John joked that I’d probably end up a “freegan” for meat after this (i.e. only eat meat that someone else puts in front of me), and I’d never really thought I’d ever have anything in common with that particular classification, but there you go.
In general, I’ve always hated the word “flexitarian” but I think there’s really something to be said for the lifestyle. Moderation’s a good thing, and I like the idea of meat as a special occasion item rather than a meal-dominating force. But ask me in six months, and we’ll see if I’m still only having the occasional pork or lamb indulgence.
What’s next: I think it’s time to turn my attention to sustainable seafood. It’s not something I focused on during MMM, though it is something John and I think about and read about.