Some time in the middle of April, my family decided to go meatless for a month.
Actually, I proposed it after we’d had a discussion about whether or not vegetarianism was a healthier lifestyle. I told my kids that you can be a vegetarian, or even a vegan, and subsist on pasta, veggie hot dogs, and Oreos–not the healthiest of diets, per se. I proposed that we go meatless for a month, and try to be as adventurous as possible.
Frankly, our meal plan was in need of a shake up. Our repertoire had narrowed, and new foods were eyed with increasing suspicion. I proposed the idea not sure if they’d take me seriously. The kids, always up for an adventure, especially one that will add hours of work to my week, readily agreed.
May was only weeks away, and a good time to go meatless. Meatless May sounds better than Meatless June, and we didn’t feel like waiting 10 months for Fleshless February. And Shavuot, traditionally a dairy holiday, is in May. Most importantly, May was early enough in the year for us to go meatless and not forsake what I consider to be the highlight of the summer: the grilled hot dog. (Honestly, I could write a volume of sonnets to the grilled hot dog. The last week in April, in anticipation of Meatless May, I ate five of them at our school’s Yom Ha’atzmaut barbecue. So there.)
I laid down a few rules for Meatless May:
1. There will be no meat or poultry consumed in this house during the month of May.
2. When we eat out as a family, we will eat as vegetarians.
3. If you want to go hardcore and be vegan this month, do not lord it over the rest of us.
4. When you go to a friend’s house, you do not have to be a vegetarian if you don’t want to. Also, it is more important to be a good guest than to be a vegetarian for a month, so don’t start singing the praises of Meatless May and loudly refuse to eat.
5. You will try new food. Because most new food (with the exception of dessert), tastes gross until you have had at least five bites, you will have six bites. (Also known as the Six Bite Rule.)
6. What happens at school stays at school. (Far be it from me to look the gift horse of a hot lunch program in the mouth.)
Here’s what I have learned so far about being meatless:
1. It is a lot more work. Nothing is easier than throwing a chicken in the oven and calling it a day.
2. I need to be more organized about my shopping because shockingly, I do not always have bunches of cilantro, chickpea flour, and fresh limes on hand. (And that’s just this week.)
3. Shabbat is tricky. Many people have told me that they are practically meatless during the week, and honestly, sometimes we are as well. But to my family, Shabbat means that several chickens have given their lives so that we may eat. Not to mention the odd cow. One of my boys has friends coming to stay this Shabbat and he has already announced that none of them are going to be meatless.
4. It is easy to be spoilt for choice. I am now in possession of 16 (and counting) vegetarian or vegan cookbooks. Some I already owned, some I bought, and some were lent to me. I am totally overwhelmed, and if I see another 23-step veggie burger recipe, I may scream.
But now I get it… pasta and veggie hot dogs are starting to sound really appealing….