Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Cheated

At least it tasted like I did. I'm sorry if the title scared any of you, for I did not actually cheat on my vegetarian diet, but boy did it seem like it. Let me tell you why. A few days ago, my vegetarian friend Alex (different Alex, sorry Alex.. which Alex am I talking about now? You'll never know!) asked me what I had been eating. She asked if I would cook a recipe if she gave it to me, because she rightly assumed that I have been eating a lot of carbs. I realized just how bad it was with that comment. My pasta and chicken has become pasta. My rice and chicken has become rice. My chicken has become nothing.

Fearing another night of rice and vegetables, I decided to take a trip to Shaw's to find me some good fake meat. Last night I was reading a website I found (I will plug it later, don't worry) and they had links to all these different imitation meat products - chicken nuggets, hamburgers, hot dogs, bacon! It was all there. So, alas, I was inspired to find some good substitutions and avoid carb overload.

I found my imitation of choice - some fake chicken nuggets. However, I was confused. On the package it said "Meatless and Soy Free!" No meat. No soy?? What is it? (Oh I think they've found that air can be a good source of protein... I bet its just breaded bags of air with chicken fragrances. Sweet.) I read the back, perplexed. I had to figure out what is actually in it. Turns out it wasn't air, but rather something called Mycoprotein. For those of you who speak Latin (which is all of you, I don't know why I am bothering to translate) you know that Myco means fungi. Like Mycorhizae, the fungi in symbiotic relationship with most roots. Duh, now it makes sense. So basically these weren't chicken nuggets at all - they were fungi-nuggets. I was skeptical - and my roommates recoiled in horror.

So I fried up the suspiciously chicken looking nuggets in my George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine. In seconds they were ready! (I really recommend the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine. Though I don't know why they call it the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine? It doesn't grill fat - it grills food. They should call it the George Foreman Lean Mean Food Grilling Machine. Just a thought)(Read the tee-ems). I cut one in half and it looked suspiciously like chicken. It tasted suspiciously like chicken (I am suspiciously still suspicious). Maybe its just because I haven't had chicken in 2 and a half weeks, but I really seemed like I ate chicken tonight. At least, you can see why it felt like I had meat tonight.

I suggest that everyone who is vegetarian go out and get these. And I suggest that everyone who isn't vegetarian but agrees that meat is harmful; get these. You won't know the difference. The brand name is Quorn. Look 'em up.

On to the website I was reading last night. The site is www.tryveg.com, and it seems to have some good info and resources if you are considering going vegetarian. I have read just a little bit, but it has been helpful. The article I read last night was on kids going vegetarian. The article said that 3% of adults are vegetarian. That's suspiciously low (or surprisingly, whatever). I guess that's why so few veg options show up on most menus in restaurants. It also said that 2% of kids are vegetarian, up from 1%. Thats almost double! (It is you moron, where'd you learn math?) Now, being homeschooled, I learned a great deal, and if I wanted to go vegetarian it would have been easy because I was at home all day and could just say, Mom, no meat! (I wasn't homeschooled...) At public schools, it's gotta be tough. I know if you didn't eat meat at my high school, you would have been eating a LOT of cheese. Mostly in pizza form, or stuffed breadstick form, or pizza boat form, or pizza roll form, or pretzel and cheese, or grilled cheese. Sounds like a balanced diet to me, but some kids may want more. I think meat is important for growing kids. I know you can do without it when you are a young, growing person if you have the right tools, preferably someone cooking for you who knows what they are doing. But in general, I think meat is good for kids growing up. Maybe not in the quantities that some enjoy it, but still on a regular basis. It's not that I want meat to be banished forever from the plates of billions worldwide.

I would love it if we could figure out a way to make meat less wasteful. Make meat "sustainable." That will be the day. Instead of slapping a USDA Organic sticker on foods to make people feel better, I think it'd be great if we could focus on sustainability, and slap USDA Sustainable stickers on the best foods out there. I know sustainability is not an easy thing to calculate, and I understand why that hasn't happened. But if we have more of a system-wide outlook - what does the cow or chicken eat, where does the grain and corn come from, how much water does it take to grow that, what kind of pesticides, if any, are being used, how much is the farmer being paid for the meat, is his land being raped of its resources and be unable to produce in five years, how much fossil fuels are used to grow the food and then to transport that meat from the farm to the butcher to the packaging plant to the freezer section to your house. Wow that's a lot to consider. But it can be done. We are pretty smart, as a species. We can figure it out. We just need some resolve. One day I'd like to find a pack of boneless chicken breast in the freezer section that says more than just Organic or even Cage-Free or Free-Range (which I have been hearing in some circles is a load of crap anyway... more on that later), but Sustainable as well. Then we can resume our normal diets without guilt. Who knows if this is possible, but maybe we should try. Until then, I cheated (just kidding, the title is irrelevant at this point. But it fit in the beginning I swear). USDA Sustainable.

1 comment:

Alexandra Dyke said...

Oooo I'm glad you reminded me, I'll have the recipe for you on Friday!

I'm going to get some of those fungi nuggets! And I even have a GFLMFGM (haha) to cook them on!