As I was doing my carbon footprint calculations one of the secondary footprint questions that recurred was about the family's consumption of red meat. It turns out that the word "secondary" is more than a little misleading. We can make a huge impact on our energy consumption/carbon footprint by eliminating red meat (and meat all together) from our diets. Vegetarianism vs. Meat-eating
Note: I. Love. Meat.
My family loves meat.
And, we have some personal biases against the idea of vegetarianism. I'm not even sure I can articulate them. There is just a large amount of personal and emotional resistance in both my husband and I toward the idea of being vegetarians. It's huge.
Culturally, my family is Southern. While I live in the Northwest, my mother and all of her family are from the South. I spent a significant portion of my childhood in the South. Southern culture is food culture, in my experience. Loving people means feeding them. Welcoming people means feeding them. Comforting people means feeding them. Eating is also a part of this culture. Eating = fellowship. When we go on vacation, one of the main considerations are the local foods. What new culinary delights await us? It's a cornerstone of an enjoyable experience to be fed and be fed well.
Because of this upbringing of food hospitality, I have some real hang ups about food and eating. Picky eaters drive me insane. To insult someone's food (or refuse to eat it) is a form of personal rejection, and it offends me beyond rational understanding. I go ballistic. To not have enough food for family or company is humiliating and infuriating. To have someone mess with my food... sacrilege. (Once a family member ate all of the chocolate off the top of a snack I made...that was four or five years ago and I still feel a smoldering irritation at the kid.)
Long story short, eliminating meat from our diet seems to violate some sort of cultural principle of love and hospitality for me. I understand this isn't logical, but we're not talking logic, we're talking emotion. It's deeply entrenched in me. So I'm not ready to become a vegetarian. I doubt I'll ever be. But something has to be done, so I'm willing to baby step it. I am going to cook one meatless dinner a week. If that goes well, I'm willing to increase it to two. I talked to the man about this, and he's cautiously supportive of one meal a week. This food thing may be our toughest hurdle...
So last night I made Penne with Eggplant from a recipe I found online. I ended up modifying it a bit, because I couldn't get the garlic pressed fast enough. We had a date with the swimming pool and I was impatient. So here's the basic recipe from allrecipes.com with modifications below.
Instead of olive oil & garlic, I used Italian dressing. I had two partial bottles in the fridge, so I used those up. I also couldn't find sun dried tomato paste, only sun dried tomatoes in a jar. I cut those up and added them instead. Rather than plain tomato sauce, I used canned garlic pasta sauce. I only used 16 ounces of penne, rather than 24.
It was really good. I've never used eggplant in anything before. Four of the kids loved it, and my husband was okay with it. We have leftovers in the fridge, which I plan on eating for lunch, possibly twice. Overall it was a good experiment, and we will have it again.
I'd like to find some recipes that seem more "normal". There's something off-putting about eggplant for my husband and our second son. Our son really balks at anything "weird". I'm hoping to work meatless meals into our diet in a way so that no one minds, or really notices. I'll keep posting recipes, and I'm open to suggestions.