After Three Months of Meatless Mondays, It's Officially Not So Terrible. Except the Tofu.

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March has come and gone, which means that somehow three months have already passed since we began this whole Meatless Monday endeavor -- I've eaten a lot of vegetarian meals over the past hundred or so days, some memorably delicious, others notably terrible, as well as some not worth mentioning. This past week I had a spicy Asian BBQ flatbread from Ft. Worth-based food truck Good Karma Kitchen that was pretty good, but I don't especially feel the need to wax poetic about it. Just another notch on the old tofu belt.

Instead, I'm exploring the ways that Meatless Monday has changed how I eat Tuesday through Sunday, and devising my plan of attack for the next three months and beyond.

Besides restricting my meat intake once a week, this whole thing has made me more discerning about the meat I consume during the other six days of the week. When it comes to steak or a burger, I'll eat half and take the rest home, stretching what used to be one meal into two, and filling it out with vegetables or grains. Even something as simple as making a sandwich is a little different now: instead of piling on an inch-thick layer of prosciutto, I'll put three handkerchief-thin slices on, and bulk it up with more tomato and arugula. I'm more likely to order a vegetarian main like risotto or falafel with hummus, instead of feeling like I've gotta have meat to make it a full meal.

Now before you all think I'm up on some Mark Bittman-inspired high horse, allow me to admit the following: I still consume bacon on the regular, despite the fact that it will probably kill me (it's a toss up as to which will give me cancer first, eating processed meats or talking on my cell phone while staring into the microwave). There's almost always a selection of charcuterie in my fridge, and I eat bone marrow whenever the opportunity presents itself. I still love the shit outta meat; I'm just trying to be more mindful of where it comes from and the effect my consumption has on my body and the world around me.

My goals for the next quarter are as follows:

  • Try cooking more meatless meals at home (e.g., something more elaborate than a grilled cheese sandwich) -- living with a guy whose diet closely resembles that of a T-Rex makes this more difficult than it sounds.
  • Related to the first one, but: I now live within walking distance of the farmers market (for as long as it's still in business, at least), so now that we're in prime growing season I intend to go see what's good and then cook with it, to further embrace the whole local-seasonal movement that some of my favorite restaurants seem to live and die by.
  • Challenge myself. I want to try my hand at a meat-free AND dairy-free Monday, since the production of dairy products puts just as much strain on natural resources as meat production, and I find myself relying heavily on eggs and cheese when meat isn't an option.
  • Pony up the cash to occasionally buy some higher quality meats, e.g. free-range local chicken. I've been going the cheap route, and I'd like to put my money where my mouth is and support some local businesses rather than factory farms.
  • Further familiarize myself with where my food comes by visiting a local farm that raises pastured meat. (I'm always shocked when people are disgusted by animals that still have a head or feet; hi, did you think your chicken nuggets grew on trees?)
  • Stop torturing myself with tofu, because despite trying it in many different incarnations, I Fucking Hate It.

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