For four long years, I ate only a vegetarian diet, and the only meat I bought was for our cats (who are obligate carnivores.) In fact, I wrote a very reasoned and heartfelt blog post about why I decided to become a vegetarian. But while my heart and mind loved the idea of being a vegetarian, my body didn’t.
Two years ago, I started doing accounting for a family-owned, local, sustainable Bay Area meat and restaurant company. For the first six months, I remained a vegetarian, despite being surrounded by meat. And when I say “meat,” I mean whole animal carcasses brought in from local farms to be processed by the skilled butchers at our company. Somehow, seeing the actual animals and knowing where they came from made it easier to consider eating meat again. And one night at work, exhausted and hungry, I went ahead and ate some organic, pastured, heritage turkey leftover from the holidays. And I noticed that I actually … Read the rest
Two weeks ago, food columnist Mark Bittman published ten Recipes for the Semi-Vegan in The New York Times Magazine along with photos that left many of us salivating.
What a great source of inspiration, I thought, for those of us who aspire to eat more plants and fewer animal products. I, in particular, need help. See, in May 2010, after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals,I resolved to stop eating meat. My reasons were personal. (You can read them here.) And I kept my resolution until the end of February 2011.
Then my mom died.
After the memorial service, my sister came home with a giant sack of Wendy’s cheeseburgers, Mom’s favorite food, and, dumping them out on the kitchen table, she announced, “Everyone must partake.” I couldn’t refuse this ceremonial gesture. I ate a cheeseburger. And then another. And then for the rest of my trip home it was all meat all the time. Something … Read the rest
Pot roast and pork chops and fried chicken aren’t so very comforting after you stare into the eyes of the animal. I didn’t need to visit the Farm Sanctuary to realize I had to stop eating animals; I gave up meat after reading a book. But being with the animals — touching them, smelling them, nuzzling into their fur — reinforced just why it is I can’t consider them food anymore.
The thing is, I think I’m grieving a little bit. Grieving the foods that used to bring me such pleasure and also grieving the animals that suffered for that pleasure. But their faces are so beautiful that I mostly just feel joy to live on this planet with so many different kinds of beings. Here are a few that I and my blogger friend Heather Clisby visited at the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA last month.
This is pot roast, an all-time favorite food since childhood. We used to call it “stringy meat” and always had it with… Read the rest
Probably. I visited a plastic bag factory this past weekend. I took a lot of pictures and asked a lot of questions, and I’ll write more about what I learned in a future post. But I just had to share this tidbit of information right away: most plastic bags (and other plastics, for that matter) contain “slip agents” to reduce the friction in the material. And what are slip agents made from? Mainly animal fat.
The factory owner I spoke with called it “chicken fat,” but according to an article I found afterward, “Animal Derived Agents in Disposable Systems (PDF),” many of these slip agents are made from rendered beef tallow. Apparently, manufacturers of biotechnology are concerned lately about beef fats used in plastic materials that come in contact with bioprocess fluids. Why? Because of prions. (Aka “mad cow disease.”)
Rendered animals. Just one more reason to avoid the… Read the rest
This past weekend, I brought homemade veggie burgers to my friends Red and Jen’s house for the 4th of July. While everyone else was downing hamburgers, I was putting my veggie burgers on the grill and praying that they would hold together. The result was mixed. They tasted great but were kind of mushy. I was going for something like the walnut mushroom burgers from Amanda’s in Berkeley, but I don’t think I hit it. Here’s the recipe and plastic-free ingredients I used based on the lentil walnut burger recipe I found at Saverqueen.com. Maybe I should reduce the amount of lentils next time. What do you think?
1 cup red lentils (from Whole Foods bulk bin in my own container)
2 cups water (tap, of course)
1 tbsp olive oil (bought in bulk in own container from The Pasta Shop in Oakland)
1 cup finely chopped onion (loose, no plastic bag)
4 cloves garlic, minced (loose, no plastic bag)
1 tsp ground cumin (from Whole Foods bulk … Read the rest
I’m toying with the idea of veganism — toying with it as a cat toys with an injured mouse before finally killing it — but I constantly run up against the cheese issue. I love cheese. Cheese is the king of my world, and all other foods exist in service to it. Veggies, pasta, bread, nuts, crackers, and even leftover Chinese food are mere vehicles for that sublime substance.
Going plastic-free was hard at first because I couldn’t find good cheese not wrapped in plastic. Finally, I ended up purchasing an entire 12-pound wheel of Perenzin San Pietro hard cheese (much like parmesan only better) coated in beeswax without any plastic. I bought it almost a year ago, and I still haven’t eaten it all because, like parmesan, a little sprinkling goes a long way. But also, it’s lasted this long because it’s so hard to cut into and grate that I don’t just wolf it down like I might cheddar… I didn’t, that is,… Read the rest
It’s 90°F here in Oakland. The kitties are lolling around and so are we. Time to break out the soda maker and have ourselves a little treat. And by “ourselves,” I mean me. Kitties don’t get to have chocolate (tough life) and Michael wasn’t particularly interested. Freak.
1) Carbonated water (via Soda Club soda maker)
2) Homemade chocolate syrup (recipe posted on My Plastic-free Life)
3) Ice (from stainless steel ice cube tray)
4) Glass drinking straw (via Glass Dharma)
Mix it all up and suck. Awesome, vegan, and plastic-free.… Read the rest
People keep asking me if going meat-free is going to make it harder to be plastic-free since so many meat-free foods come packaged in plastic. Foods like veggie burgers, Tofurkey, seitan, tempeh, etc. But why should it? I gave up processed foods when I gave up plastic. I see no reason for anything to change now.
Fresh produce from the farmers market:
Bulk bins: Beans, lentils, split peas, all kinds of grains & nuts.
Fresh tofu from Whole Foods in my own container.
And when I want to grab something and go, I’ll just keep bringing my reusable containers. The new sushi vendor at Whole Foods didn’t want to put my veggie sushi in my LunchBots container, but I can be very persuasive when I’m hungry.
There’s no conflict between going plastic-free and meat-free. At least not where I live.… Read the rest
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Three years ago, I took the red pill and swore off plastic.
Last year, on my hands and knees sopping up a spilled glass of wine, I found another red pill under the couch and, mistaking it for a vintage M&M, popped it in my mouth. I haven’t had a drink since.
This February, a third red pill fell out of a book I was reading, and I swallowed it before I realized what I was doing. I think you know what happened. I just can’t look at meat without seeing the living animal it once was.
So, I was just wondering if there were any more red pills I should worry about finding because all this “Wonderland” is getting to be a drag. For example, last night, I was out having drinks and … Read the rest
What do you do when you have to sit through a very stressful film about how corporate America is destroying the planet, and the screening takes place in a night club so everyone else has a drink in their hand to take the edge off, and you’re trying to keep it together with a glass of water? And also? You used up your last prescription bottle of Xanax and don’t plan to get it refilled for various reasons, the least of which is the plastic bottle.
I found myself in that condition Wednesday night, seeing the film Tapped for the 3rd time and feeling just as angry as I did the first time I saw it. Tapped, which I reviewed last year, is all about the bottled water industry and covers infuriating information most people are unaware of. Wednesday’s screening was hosted by SF Surfrider, who invited me to come and talk to people about ways to live with less plastic. So I did that and got into an argument with one of the sponsors (and his brain-splittingly… Read the rest