A busy weekend and another problem :(

Cosset Cafe 1087 New North Rd, Mt Albert, Auckland NZ offers a mainly Vegan menu, including some meal options, but most cafes and cheaper eateries don't ๐Ÿ™

Our busy weekend reveals another difficulty with trying to cut back meat, eggs and (possibly) dairy. We were rushing from place to place so we only had 2-3 meals (including breakfasts) at home over the weekend, one lunch was fish and chips (the only other option in that part of town was a meat pie), though one cafe meal was mushrooms few cafes have more than one vegan (or even quasi-Vegan) meal on offer.

In Auckland we could have gone to Cosset, but eating out on busy days may prove difficult ๐Ÿ™

Milk without Money

Well perhaps not, but I thought that quote from Isaiah 55.1 was appropriate since that’s what it can seem like when trying to eat less meat and animal products.ย  It seems like there is dairy everywhere, flowing with milk and honey indeed!

Just after Tim’s most recent post about dairy and its relationship to being a repentant carnivore, I realized just how big of a deal dairy is. Over this past week I’ve been out and about a lot. I’ve been at family and church gatherings and also been caught having to eat at restaurants a number of times. When it comes to family and church gatherings I think these situations are probably most difficult for meat avoidance.ย  At one family gathering this past week, it was either eat meat or virtually nothing at all (my wife’s family had a crawfish boil, though I’m not sure about the ecology of eating crawfish).

In the case of eating out, I am realizing that vegetarian eating decisions are sometimes fairly easy to make while vegan ones often are not (There are no restaurants that I know of with vegan offerings anywhere within about a 45 minute drive from my home).ย  The reason for this is that many of the vegetarian dishes that I have seen, at least at the restaurants I have eaten at recently, contain cheese or some other dairy product as a primary ingredient.

One meal that I ate was at a microbrewery that is also a restaurant.ย  I mainly go there for the beer ๐Ÿ˜‰ (and please no one tell me that beer is ecologicially bad, I’m not sure I could bear that this early on in trying to make a change), but my wife likes the food.ย  Oddly enough, there they had several vegetarian style offerings (Based on past experiences I would normally not expect a brewhouse to be so sensitive).ย  Yet in each case the vegetarian offerings had cheese as one of the primary ingredients.ย  So, I did the best I could.ย  I ordered the personal size vegetarian pizza.ย  I suppose I could have asked them to hold the cheese, but I’m not sure how appetizing that would have been.

In another case, my wife and I ate at our local Greek and Lebanese restaurant called Albasha.ย  I like Albasha’s fare because many of the dishes that I like are devoid of meat.ย  However, once again everything usually comes with some sort of yogurt sauce or dressing.ย  I ordered the falafel sandwich.ย  It had a bit of a creamy tahini sauce on it and it came with feta salad, but I did feel better about it than the vegetarian pizza.

I guess these experiences just reinforced that one’s decision about dairy can be a really important one and one that I have been thinking a great deal about…

Pot of beans & judging the competition

Not my beans, look somethinglikes photo from La.blasco

I have not started on trying out the competition recipes, there was too much food around that needed using up this week. I won’t be over the weekend as I’ll be in Tauranga and want easy meals (see below), but plan to next week. This means there is still time to ask your friends for their best Vegan maincourse or lunch (i.e. substantial but portable) recipes…

Beans with Preserved Lemons

So as to have a couple of quick easy meals for the weekend, and a tasty meal last night I did a big pot of those young greenish (but dried) beans in the slow cooker yesterday. The ones that are like Flageolet Beans, but not from the Harricot but perhaps Fava… [BTW the slow cooker is great for beans, but NOT the red ones, as they need a good fast boil for some of their cooking time to remove poisons ๐Ÿ™ ]

Just put:

  • Some chopped onions and garlic (less than the onions ๐Ÿ˜‰ but plenty I used six cloves)
  • Bay leaves/Thyme/Rosemary
  • Beans

In the pot and more than cover with vege stock (my second batch of Nathan’s free stock worked fine with just the stalk ends of celery and other peelings and wastage including onion and garlic skins) the exact quantity is difficult as different beans soak up different quantities. (BTW in the slow cooker all day there is no need to pre-soak the beans.) The ideal is if you can look in on them at lunch time to maybe add more stock.

Near the end of cooking add some preserved lemons and limes. In NZ now is the time to set up a shelf of jars, as limes are as cheap as they get, and they do make the lemons taste even better ๐Ÿ™‚ The preserving somehow mellows the flavour and they go brilliantly with the beans adding interest to the dish. The Velveteen Rabbi called them “sunshine in a jar” – I can’t beat that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Season and if need be thicken the sauce with a little maize meal/cornflour.

Should dairy products count as meat?

Are beans really "worse" than cheese? (Photo by pizzodisevo, modified)

In my first post I classed eggs and diary products (in particular cheese) with meat as things Repentant Carnivores might try to cut back on. Since then Heather has emailed some interesting calculations. She was curious whether using less dairy would in fact use less land. This was an issue that came up in the discussion on the Tear Fund Facebook page too, so I’ll copy Heather’s figures here:

[u]sing my ‘food footprint’ spreadsheet I already had and plugging in data for g of protein/kg of the food I found you get the following numbers of kg of protein per Ha of land:

  • Nuts (as peanuts) 480
  • Pulses (dry, uncooked) 125
  • Milk 243
  • Yoghurt 270
  • Cheese, milk powder 274
  • Eggs, free range(12 = 636g) 42
  • Goat infinite! (as in NZ goat meat tends not to be farmed as such – it’s feral goat or goat that is brought on to increase the productivity of the land for other uses by them eating up the gorse)
  • Beef 52
  • Chicken (free range) 37
  • Pork (free range) 22
  • Sheep meat 14

Based on that, it looks like eggs should be thought of in the same light as meat, but that dairy products use no more land than pulses or nuts. And that goat should be eaten in abundance ๐Ÿ™‚

On the other hand, to get the same g of fat butter takes 21 times the amount of land as canola oil (although if you’re consuming other dairy products obviously a bit of fat goes along with it).

There’s lots to discuss here ๐Ÿ˜‰ Is the goat meat my butcher sells feral goat, or imported meat with huge cost in fuel etc? Should sheep meat be thought of as “worst”, remembering that sheep (in NZ at least) usually use land that is not good for other “crops”? But if these figures are correct (can anybody verify or challenge them?) it looks as if Milk, Cheese and Yoghurt could come off the RC list, which would be very good news for cheese-lovers ๐Ÿ™‚

Trying faux meat

Today was a bit of a hectic day.ย  I know Tim has elsewhere expressed his consternation toward “faux meat.”ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, we are, in fact, working through this issue separately, though we are co-blogging our experiences.ย  So, I gave the stuff a try today.

For one thing, I was a bit intrigued.ย  For another thing, I thought it might be easy to try faux meat with my kids one day since it at least looks like food that they are accustomed to rather than reducing meat altogether.ย  As to that, we may see …

My faux meat experience was in the form of a Boca Chik’n Patty.ย  I suppose this is a bit of what the American diet is about.ย  We have been raised on fast and easy.ย  And, this certainly was on a bit of a hectic day.ย  Our oldest is in ballet camp and my wife is in midst of rearranging the house while I’m working (no summer off for me – my wife works as a school librarian).ย  On top of that I think the two year old is teething.

My impression was this – it wasn’t so bad, but certainly not the kind of thing you could live on.ย  Also, it is the kind of thing that is fine on a bun, but taken on its own I don’t imagine it would have been quite as palatable.ย  No wonder most of the faux meat offerings are burger shaped.ย  I realize that’s not quite a stellar review, but I realize not every meal is going to be ideal.

I’ll probably make use of the patties again if in a pinch, but I don’t think I could make a habit of it.ย  My next project is going to be trying to work my way through some recipes in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen.ย  I actually bought the book a while back, but it lead to a fairly frustrating experience that I do not wish to detail.ย  But, I wanted to pick it up and give it another shot.ย  There are some really tasty looking pictures in there at least.ย  I’ll let you know if any of those work out.

Removing the Beam?

I suppose I should begin with an introduction.ย  My name is Jeremy. I normally blog here and, if you’re interested, you can learn a bit more about me here (though now that I’ve just looked I need to update some of that info ;-)).ย  After commenting on Tim’s post on being a repentant carnivore, he asked me if I’d be interested in co-blogging with him on this topic.ย  I thought this would be a worthwhile project so here I write.

I, like Tim, have become increasingly concerned about my own consumption of meat both from the standpoint of health and ecology, though I think Tim’s concern is primarily in terms of resources.ย  For me at least, it is not a matter of abstinence, as I don’t see any problems inherent in eating meat, but rather one of moderation.ย  If my meat consumption is at the expense of others, or if it is deteriorating my own health, then this failure to practice self-control is wrong, and I should amend my diet.

One issue that I will try to bring to the fore is one that Tim alluded to in his first post, namely that of trying to reduce meat consumption as well as the consumption of animal products with children in my home.ย  Not only children, but children who have been raised on an American diet.ย  They like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and … well, that’s about it.ย  They will both eat fruit if that is all we have to offer, but balk at vegetables.

The matter that I have been thinking about the most from the outset is what approach I should take with my children.ย  My wife is fully on board with reducing meant consumption; however, attempts at getting our children to make changes to their diet often lead to a great deal of frustration.

My dilemma is whether my wife and I should attempt to model a more meat-less diet for a time first and then attempt to bring the children along; something analogous to removing the beam from our own eyes first before we can try to help them.ย  Or should we attempt to have the children participating from the start?ย  I suppose the first option may seem a bit cowardly, but the initial frustration that may result from option two oftentimes leads to failure that can seem like a serious setback.

For the time being, I have started by trying to reduce my own meat consumption.ย  Today was entirely devoid of animal products for me.ย  And, I suppose that’s a start.

Has anyone ever tried this or something analogous with their children?ย  What has worked for you?ย  I’d be glad to hear your thoughts, and I’m looking forward to dialoguing through this experience with you.

Two lessons in meat avoidance

Last time we went “semi” it was a doddle, as semi-Vegetarians whenever we were stuck we’d use cheese or eggs, but if we’re serious about the environmental and justice implications of our eating semi-Vegetarian does not cut the mustard, only Vegan or semi-Vegan seems to work. Egg and dairy meals seem to needย nearly as much of the earth’s resources as meat. That’s why (at least for me, when other bloggers start to post their position is up to them) I am counting servings of meat, dairy and eggs.

Our meals at the weekend offer two lessons for us repentant carnivores (or even just possibly thinking about it RCs). Saturday’s lesson is a goodie ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Sunday’s a bummer ๐Ÿ™

On Saturday for lunch, we had family round, so I tried repentant roast veges and roast potatoes. By “repentant roast veges” I mean that to make the shock smaller for the others (all full-blooded carnivores) I added a little parmesan cheese to the veges just before serving. Only about one serving of cheese between the four of us, but enough to add a meaty edge to the veg ๐Ÿ™‚

Then in the evening, we had mushrooms with buckwheat, and again I added less than 1/2 a portion of cheese between the two of us.

Result two meals a carnivore will hardly notice as they taste meaty, but less than one portion of animal products per person for the day. That’s what being aย  repentant carnivore is all about ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Not becoming doctrinaire Vegans or even sectarian Vegetarians, but using a sustainable “fair” share of resources.

Not khyber Spice Invader's samosas, rather they are by Benimoto, but they look good ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunday lunch though was different, a pot-luck at church. Our offering (I was preaching at Royal Oak, so didn’t have time to cook) was some delicious and either Vegan or Vegetarian Samosas (depending if Khyber Spice Invader’s supplier used real or vegetable ghee). But church pot-lucks are not good places to try to eat even semi-Vegan, chicken and cheese and meat everywhere. The visiting Muslim did better, as only the Cheerios had pork, and I at least am not at all tempted by Cheerios ๐Ÿ˜‰

Stockpot (tip from a real chef)

Vegetable wastage steamily making savoury stock

I’ve just followed the advice of my son (Nathan, the chef) and put all the offcuts from the roast veges for lunch into a pot with water to make stock. Cheap (well effectively free), easy (as easy as putting them in the bin or compost, though there will be another step as they end up there later) and he says tasty.

It will also help to make up for the stock I will be making from chicken carcasses less often from now on…


PS: Nathan warns in the comments below to avoid the leaves of the celery. He’s right ๐Ÿ™‚ย  as I found out the hard way. Before I saw the commment I used the leaves, result delicious stock, except too bitter to use ๐Ÿ™

Vegan recipe competition

If you are, or are friends with, a Vegan (or just like trying different recipes) and have a good recipe that is:

  • tasty
  • nourishing
  • Vegan
  • for a lunch or savoury main dish
  • one you have tried
  • not needing hours of work (hours of cooking is fine as long as it requires time not me)

Then enter it into the comments below. Tell me:

  • Quantities – approximate is fine
  • Instructions – remember I have not watched your Auntie prepare this dish ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • If possible link to a photo of the end result

I will try any that sound like possibles, and give a prize to the best, any I try and like will feature here (with a link to your blog, Facebook page etc. naturally).

If I’m to start a radical change in the way I eat, I need more Vegan recipes. I have stacks of delicious meaty and/or Vegetarian recipes but to reduce my use meat etc. to just once a day I need some Vegan recipes to add to the mix. Since breakfast is Vegan already most days (delicious luxury porridge with fruits and nuts) I need light lunches and savoury mains. The competition is only for recipes you have cooked and enjoyed (please don’t just cut and paste from some website without testing it first ๐Ÿ˜‰ entries will remain open indefinitely but I will pick a first winner when I have six meals I plan to cook again.

Repentant carnivores? or Is it Christian to eat meat?

This is the post originally from Sansblogue, that started this blog

Stuffed tomatoes by hlkljgk

I’m increasingly concerned about the issue of meat-eating among Western Christians. The statistics seem quite clear, on a globe with limited resources, producing a meat diet takes far more of those limited resources than producing a Vegetarian diet, and the difference for Vegan meals are even more pronounced.

A person following a low-fat vegetarian diet, for example, will need less than half (0.44) an acre per person per year to produce their food,” said Christian Peters, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’07, a Cornell postdoctoral associate in crop and soil sciences and lead author of the research. “A high-fat diet with a lot of meat, on the other hand, needs 2.11 acres.”

It is as simple as that, the globe cannot sustain the carnivorous lifestyle we Westerners take for granted. No understanding of Christianity that I can recognise can accept that my diet choice and eating pleasure causes others to starve.

Now, at this point I need to clarify a few things:

  • When I talk about unrepentant carnivores I do not mean merely people who sometimes eat meat, by carnivore I mean people who eat meat more than 7 times a week on average. (But yes, some ham or meat paste, or tuna in a sandwich at lunch does count!)
  • By Repentant Carnivore I mean someone who recognises that the carnivorous lifestyle of most Westerners is sinful and who is seeking to change.
  • I am not a Vegetarian – I eat meat of all kinds (almost, horse is a delicacy, rat is pretty tasty, croc delicious, but I’m not over fond of tripe ๐Ÿ˜‰

But Jesus ate meat! Of course he did, and fish. Peter was a fisherman, and Jesus apparently a better one, though he may have had supernatural help ๐Ÿ˜‰ But Jesus, Peter and even most relatively affluent people in the Ancient world did not eat meat more than once a day, most of them only ate meat and fish on high-days and holidays, or when someone in the whanau (approximately extended family) or village had killed a beast.

Even though a moderate-fat plant-based diet with a little meat and dairy (red footprint) uses more land than the all-vegetarian diet (far left footprint), it feeds more people (is more efficient) because it uses more pasture land, which is widely available. (Credit: Illustration by Steve Rokitka/University Communications)

That sort of diet (occasional meat eating) is not unsustainable, it makes good use of land that is good for pasture but less good for crops and may have lower demands on scarce resources than Vegetarian or Vegan ones do (see Diet With A Little Meat Uses Less Land Than Many Vegetarian Diets from which the quote above and the graphic are taken).

Conclusions:

Western Christians must become “Repentant Carnivores”, we should reduce our meat (including fish, fowl and even eggs and dairy – for Vegetarians are merely wolves in sheep’s clothing, semi-carnivores) considerably.

Having lived the carnivourous lifestyle for years, with four children who (apart for Nathan for a couple of teenage years) demand meat, and complain when fed beans, I’ve regularly cooked the carnivorous way. I now, the children having left home (except Sarah who can I guess cook the meaty meals ๐Ÿ˜‰ am free to repent, and plan over the coming months to work towards a low meat mixed diet, with only a meal or two per day (on average) using meat, fish, fowl, cheese or eggs.

Correction: (in the light of comments below) the last sentence was badly phrased, since it included eggs and dairy, I meant a meal or two a day at most and about one on average with those things as ingredients.