Trying faux meat

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

For one thing, I was a bit intrigued.  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.  As to that, we may see …

My faux meat experience was in the form of a Boca Chik’n Patty.  I suppose this is a bit of what the American diet is about.  We have been raised on fast and easy.  And, this certainly was on a bit of a hectic day.  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).  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.  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.  No wonder most of the faux meat offerings are burger shaped.  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.  My next project is going to be trying to work my way through some recipes in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen.  I actually bought the book a while back, but it lead to a fairly frustrating experience that I do not wish to detail.  But, I wanted to pick it up and give it another shot.  There are some really tasty looking pictures in there at least.  I’ll let you know if any of those work out.

Removing the Beam?

I suppose I should begin with an introduction.  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 ;-)).  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.  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.  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.  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.  Not only children, but children who have been raised on an American diet.  They like pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, and … well, that’s about it.  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.  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.  Or should we attempt to have the children participating from the start?  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.  Today was entirely devoid of animal products for me.  And, I suppose that’s a start.

Has anyone ever tried this or something analogous with their children?  What has worked for you?  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 need 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 🙂  Sunday’s a bummer 🙁

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 🙂

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 a  repentant carnivore is all about 🙂  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 🙂

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 😉

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 🙂  as I found out the hard way. Before I saw the commment I used the leaves, result delicious stock, except too bitter to use 🙁

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 😉
  • 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 😉 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 😉

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 😉 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 😉 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.