Tag Archives: Meatless Monday

Blackened tempeh skewers with zesty green salsa

This is perhaps the most “on-the-fly” blog post I’ve written since I got my butt back in gear earlier this month on Urban Garlic. Oh, I have tons of other blog posts lined up — muffins, breakfast bites, shepherd’s pie — but for some reason I just had to do tempeh skewers on March 26.

Now, if you’re not a tempeh fan, or if you’re one of those people who has to have it prepared just so, fear not: I was once like you. In fact, I still am, very much, like you. While there’s not much in the world that makes me happier than a Bloomer’s tempeh reuben, and my favourite “just passing by the fridge” snack is my tempeh mushroom mince, I’d still much rather top a bowl or salad with some lightly fried or baked tofu rather than tempeh.

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What comes after “Meatless Monday?”

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All around me I see friends and colleagues who have made valiant efforts to reduce their meat consumption. Most haven’t committed to going vegetarian or even vegan, but they seem really proud every time they make a meal without meat and like to broadcast these feats to the world.

I’m always encouraging when I see that people are making efforts to eat fewer animal products. My own partner has greatly reduced his own animal consumption, and I’m helping him along with some of his harder-to-break habits (like coffee creamer! I’ve recently gotten him hooked on Silk’s almond version).

Helping people find a solution toward an animal-free lifestyle is something I always want to encourage, so I try to not get prickly toward the Meatless Monday Crowd (note: even if Monday isn’t your preferred night of the week to chomp on sprouts instead of steak, you might still be part of what I call the Meatless Monday crowd). After all, people should be making efforts to lower their animal consumption.

But here’s why I have a problem with the concept of “Meatless Monday”: it’s become an end-goal when really it should be a stepping stone.

I don’t believe there’s such thing as a 90% vegan (no, Mark Bittman, I do not think there is such a thing as being a “part-time vegan”) because I believe veganism is about commitment. I do, however, believe in transition

I like to think of my own initial foray into vegetarianism. What a lot of people don’t know is that it actually started out as no more than a culinary experiment. I was getting bored with how I cooked and wanted to change things up, give plant-based cooking a try.

That eventually evolved into a true passion for ethical veganism in diet and in the way I live my everyday life.

I wanted to share a little bit about how I went from being a veg-curious culinary, and how you can take meatlessness from an experiment to a truly impacting decision.

  1. Always ask yourself, “Why am I doing this in the first place?”
    Most people will probably say that they begin to take measures to reduce their meat consumption for a number of reasons: to help lessen their impacts on the environment and benefit their own health, those kinds of things. But it’s also important to ask yourself this more frequently, not just when you first try it. If it ends up becoming a routine of a habit, is there really much of a point? If you had a goal to impact the environment but you’re still buying just as much meat as you used to (you’re just not eating it on a certain day), then are you really making a difference? Constantly keeping yourself in check with regards to your initial goals are a must.
  2. Ask yourself: “What have I learned?”
    We learn things by accident all the time. For me, I never intended to learn all I learned when I embarked on my vegetarian “experiment.” After a couple months without meat, when I’d actually talk about it with people, realized something special — that a lot of my previous conceptions about vegetarianism (and by extension veganism) were incorrect. It wasn’t as expensive, difficult or tasteless as I thought it would be. But I might had never realized that if I hadn’t actually asked myself to think about what I’d learned. If you’re reducing your meat intake as an “experiment” or an attempt at making a change to your body, you should ask yourself what you’ve learned (even if you never intended to learn it in the first place).
  3. Always think of next steps.
    Okay, I know we like to get all “life is about the journey, not the destination!!” and such. So maybe you don’t want to have an “end goal” in mind because you think that’s too intimidating. But you should always try to think, “What’s next?” Maybe you’re doing the Jamie Oliver thing and eating vegetarian three nights per week — what next? Maybe make a point of cutting the amount of money you spend on animal products in half. Maybe make a goal to buy your next toiletry products as cruelty free/vegan. Maybe you can try buying a dairy-free cheese next grocery trip. Don’t get complacent!
  4. Remove validation from the equation.
    Most people are used to seeing a big fanfare when they first go vegetarian or vegan, or post a picture of the single meatless meal they made on Instagram. A million likes, some initial and genuine fascination from your friends, that “Wow, good for you!” feeling we all love. Here’s the thing: It stops. Just like your parents whipped out the video camera to immortalize your first steps and stopped caring about your walking abilities after that, eventually your peers will stop paying attention to your veg-curious culinary adventures (if it’s any consolation, by the time you become a vegan, they’ll probably be full-on hostile about it). What you need to do is take validation out of the equation. Would you still care about this if your friends didn’t care? If no one ever told you “good job,” would you still go at home at night and think you’ve made the right decision? If your answer is yes, then keep going (and for what it’s worth, I believe in you).