I am so lucky to have friends and family that are such outstanding cooks! Recently I made a batch of chili using a recipe and seasoning mix that Gary (thank you) provided me. I substituted lentils for the ground beef, and made a vegan “beef” stock – and the results were great. Previously I’ve made chili using the meat substitute Beyond Beef which had not only the taste, but also the look of traditional beef-based chili.
I’ve taken cooking more seriously ever since I retired, and over the years I have benefitted from the knowledge and experience from some real masters. So often our discussions gravitate to food – what’s new, how do you do such-and-such, and of course, let’s cook something together. I enjoy eating – which leads me to want to cook delicious dishes and to experiment a bit. I’ve discovered how much I enjoy reading about restaurants and recipes. So, it was no surprise when I received a book from my niece and her husband entitled “Food Is The Solution” I was excited and spent a lot of time with that book. And that led me to conclude I needed to have a new meal plan that significantly reduced my consumption of animal products: My New 2020 Meal Plan.
Since announcing my intentions on February 11 (it’s important to share your goals so you feel more compelled to fulfill them) I’ve been tracking what I have eaten since February 1 and also, my progress on the goals I set. How am I doing? (Glad you asked.) My goals and progress are listed below:
- Eliminate all red meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb): For this goal, I was successful 90% of the time (in days) – that is for 90 % of the days, I avoided all red meat. Most (but not all) of my shortcomings were as a guest. – See Exceptions below.
- Limit seafood (shrimp, fish, etc.) to 2 servings per week: For this goal, on average, I was 100 % successful. A few weeks I had 3 or 4 fish meals; other weeks I had fewer than 2.
- Eliminate milk – substituting almond or soy milk: For this goal, I was successful about half the time. I started out gung-ho but after a couple of months, I decided I enjoyed 1% milk too much to eliminate – especially on cereal.
- Eliminate butter – substituting vegan margarine: For this goal, again, I was successful about 75% of the time – forgetting to buy the right product at the grocery a couple of times.
- Limit eggs to 2 per week: Overall I ate fewer than 2 eggs per week, although some weeks there were more but many more weeks, I had fewer. The eggs in cornbread and muffins were something I didn’t anticipate.
- Limit cheese to 2 portions per week: For cheese, I was successful 60% of the weeks. Pizza was the big killer here.
- Significantly increase grains, beans, vegetables: No specific data here – but by excluding animal products, this category obviously increased.
- Try at least one new vegetarian or vegan recipe every week: For this, I was successful 86% of the weeks. Lots of new recipes.
- Explore vegetarian or vegan restaurants: This was a total failure. The onset of the pandemic eliminated the option to go to restaurants and my take-out orders were very limited.
- Exceptions to the above apply when I’m a guest at someone’s home: Total success – when I’m a guest, I’ll eat whatever they serve, and appreciate it.
- Track my results: Total success – lots of data!
Bottom line, I think I’ve done pretty well, although not perfect. However, relative to the planet, I know I’ve made a contribution. We know that if every American would just eliminate one chicken meal per week and in its place substitute a plant-based product, it would have the effect of eliminating half-a-million cars on the road. So, in addition to not driving a lot lately, I’ve eliminated a lot of chicken meals.
Regarding my health, I had to postpone my routine doctor’s visit due to the pandemic so I’ll have to await how my various “vitals” are doing – but I do feel great. And considering the outbreak of the virus at meat processing plants, I’m glad my demand for these products did not contribute to these workers having to work – elbow-to-elbow – with their fellow employees and risk catching the virus.
One last item. I’m a big fan of Beyond Beef and Impossible Foods for meat substitute products. Their burgers from the grill are wonderful. And while Beyond Beef has been available at grocers for some time, Impossible Foods, available at many restaurants, is just now starting to appear at some grocery stores.