American beef consumption is down – USDA shows a 5% decrease between 2002 and 2010 and a poll done by NPR finds that as many as 39% of us are eating less red meat today than three years ago.
This is good news. It means more of us are eating healthier (also, less environmental impact, fewer animals killed for food, etc). Unfortunately, America is still eating more meat per capita than any other country! And it’s not a stretch to assume that this is thanks in part to our indecently huge subsidies for corn and soy that’s fed to livestock… but I’ll save that discussion for another blog post.
Three main reasons attributed to our decreased meat intake are increases in price, health consciousnesses and most recently social awareness.
The financial correlation is a simple one: when meat is cheap or incomes go up, meat consumption goes up. This has been true in the history of America and other countries, most recently in the developing regions where salaries and the middle class are on the rise. The opposite is also true: when meat prices go up or incomes go down, meat consumption goes down as well. The latest from USDA shows cost of beef per pound increasing 7.5% from 2005 and 2010. And the recession doesn’t help either.
On those hot summer days when the coals are hot (or propane is flowing) and the delicious BBQ aromas fill the air, there is one food group that often gets the short end of the grilling stick. I’m talking about fruit. While meat and veggies are BBQ no-brainers, fruit rarely makes it to the party.
And what a shame when there are so many grill-worthy fruits that provide a delicious, healthy, and vegetarian alternative to traditional desserts! Here are three of my favorites for my Meatless Monday grill days.
For this week’s Meatless Monday’s my husband, Nathan, decided to make an eggplant lasagna. While it sounded like a lot to take on, it simultaneously fulfilled two objectives. Firstly, it provided an interesting alternative to our Meatless Monday routine and secondly, it left me with a dish that would last me 3 to 4 meals, as my husband was traveling, and I don’t like to cook (and I love leftovers!).
Quickly glancing at the ingredients, we were off to the grocery store with ricotta & mozzarella cheeses, lasagna noodles and of course eggplant added to our usual shopping list.
When we got home and read the recipe with a little more attention, we realized that the recipe called for eggplant instead of pasta sheets, not in addition to. Having bought both we decided to tweak the recipe a little bit. It turned out delicious, easy to make and most importantly lasted me for a few nights!
Below is the original recipe from Food Network with Nathan’s magic touch/variations highlighted in orange:
How do you convince habitual meat eaters to choose, eat and enjoy a vegetarian dish when yummy meat dishes are fighting for their attention?
The answer is pretty simple and it’s this: cook a delicious vegetarian dish as part of the line up. And I’m not just talking about putting out more veggie side dishes and salads (although those don’t hurt either), but providing a true vegetarian meal that can hold its own against its protein partner.
Unconvinced? I have two recent cases in point.
My switch to eating only humanely-raised products has been relatively easy as many restaurants and grocers in the Bay Area offer options for free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and pastured pork. In addition, my timing aligned nicely with two of my main grocers’decision decision to start carrying humanely-raised brands which made my switch even easier (Safeway and Nob Hill).
Part of the change included incorporating ‘Meatless Mondays’ into our routine, which for my husband and I means one to two ‘no meat’ days and two to three ‘seafood’ days each week. While overall there are plenty of dishes to choose from, there are grocery trips when I’m feeling lost as to what to buy for a ‘meat-reduced’ dinner menu for the week.
I would love to hear about the successes and struggles you’ve had with buying and eating humanely-raised meats. Have favorite tips or recipes? Share those too. Comment away!