I have never entertained let alone considered the idea of going vegetarian or vegan for purported health benefits, but for the last few years I have let the idea marinate (no pun intended) for ethical reasons. I eat meat primarily out at restaurants and not super regularly but definitely a good amount. Burgers, steaks, prosciutto sandwiches, charcuterie with red wine, pulled pork in a burrito, bacon with breakfast. Despite my enjoyment of these meats I do believe it is something I could fairly easily give up for a month, but at the very least a week, including chicken and turkey but excluding eggs and fish (allowed to eat both). I just looked this up and it would make me an ovo-pescatarian. I never heard of that but it sounds kind of cool. OVO for short. Maybe one day that will be associated more commonly with the diet than with the rapper Drake.
The reason I am writing about this subject today is because for the first time this morning I chose to eat a plant-based meat. It was Beyond Meat Beyond Sausage and I am happy to say beyond my expectations. I do not think I would have questioned whether it was real meat if someone gave it to me without telling me. This was a good place for me to start because sausage is near the bottom of the list of meats I most regularly eat or enjoy, making it the most optimal candidate for substitution. As a general believer in moderation over quitting cold turkey (with this second pun, I am realizing how heavily meats are integrated into language itself), I now think I will begin to consciously shift to eating less meat starting with the easiest opportunities and as it inevitably becomes easier to do when eating out. I say this without any desire to fully stop my meat consumption or even cut it in half at this point, but I would gladly have this sausage instead of real pork sausage at a standard breakfast spot where the sausage is just decent anyway, and I think I would enjoy it ground up in a lunch burrito if it was offered like that as well. I am not going to stop eating burgers or steaks or prosciutto sandwiches, but I can and will do better, even if it is just by 10-20%, and maybe just by doing that and writing about it and talking about it others will do a little bit better to, and the impact of small choices we know can be large.
I thought about the primary reason I had not tried plant-based meat already. I had not tried it because any time it was offered I figured the real meat was already at the restaurant and if I didn’t eat it someone else would and if it was not served before it went bad it would be wasted so what the heck just give me what I’m used to eating, but that’s a poor logic to justify my human tendency to resist change. Individual by individual and instance by instance as people eat less meat, restaurants and stores will order less and suppliers will produce less and I therefore assume that in the end less animals would be treated poorly and killed. It is convenient that the best kinds of meat that people most enjoy are the high quality ones that often come from the free range, pasture raised, grass fed, no steroid, etc., more ethically treated animals. Because of that, if we can just cut our consumption of the lower quality stuff that we enjoy less anyway, we will be successful in opposition of the worst part of the problem first. Financial professionals are familiar with LIFO and FIFO methods of accounting. I will call this the WIFO method of meat replacement, the Worst Is First Out. Driven by increases in our awareness of the issues, the availability of better substitutions, and our societal desire to treat animals better, I believe there will be a significant shift in the relative near-term.
Lastly, I think a great idea to accelerate this transition would be to establish a “No Meat Week”. Like I said, I believe most people could fairly easily go OVO for a week. Imagine how powerful it would be if people’s small efforts to cut down on meat were concentrated within just one week, and coordinated to happen all at the same time. That would have a profound impact on restaurants and suppliers and provide a serious wake up call for the industry to shift business fast. I am sure celebrities, influencers, and relevant companies would be all over it once it got enough legs. I am not the person passionate enough about this issue to properly evangelize it, but I’ll do it myself and write about it here and tell a few people. Who knows what the butterfly effect could be. So, without any further ado…
I hereby declare the first full week of March 2020 NO MEAT WEEK.
It is on my calendar with a location of anywhere and a description to “Go OVO”. Feel free to join me.