Meat-free May

I wasn't actually planning on writing a post about Meat-Free May because when it first appeared as a to-do idea on my "new things" list (over there in the left hand column under the books) I had quite a lot of feedback about how totally daft it was to do when pregnant. 

While I appreciated the genuine motivation behind this discouragement, it did make me a tad more inclined to jump right in. It also made me wonder just how much meat people around me were eating and made me think about the system. How all that meat is grown. Fed. Slaughtered. Packaged.  

(Also, as we only ate meat a couple of times a week anyway I didn't feel it was much of a stretch for the rest of the family to cope with, and the deal was that the kids and Adam of course weren't banned from meat, I just wasn't going to cook it.)

I did this for a few reasons. First: the whole idea of eating meat has turned my stomach this whole pregnancy. I know Adam is kinda hoping my aversion is entirely pregnancy-related (and therefore back to bacon and eggs and a lovely roast dinner in about seven weeks time.) He's also been around long enough to know that I have floated in and out of vegetarianism since I was fifteen years old and that I've had a problem with pork ever since I read Charlotte's Web when I was little. I've also never been able to come at veal. So he's not holding his breath.

Second: I suspect, although I am no expert, that rearing animals for (red) meat is not particularly environmentally efficient. 

Third: Did buying organic free-range chicken mean we were eating happy chooks? I wasn't convinced. Other 'organic' meat was also all about what the animals were fed, not about how they lived (or died for that matter.)

Fourth: My late grandfather took me aside when I was about twenty (and at that point vegetarian) and instructed me to start eating meat again as the world was a difficult enough place to get along in without making myself more difficult with the terribly unsociable trait of vegetarianism stitched to me too. I can still remember my feeling of shock and disappointment and thinking I'm glad he doesn't know anything else about the rest of my life. I didn't really want him to disapprove of me but I also considered becoming a vegan on the spot. All food decisions are social. All of them. Even just a month's worth.

Last night's dinner:

 Poached asparagus, potatoes, eggplant, capsicum, coriander, marinated tofu, goat's cheese, sesame seeds, olive oil. Gosh it was yummy. In fact, the leftovers were even better for lunch today. 

I think sometimes we get in the habit of particular food. I know I did when thinking about food for the kids. Pretty protein/meat based. 

What I have now is a big list of vegetarian meal ideas and I go and look at it when I'm about to do the grocery shopping to inspire me to think a bit broader. 

I'll post it, if you'd find it useful? 

The growing list of May dinners is about to become a page on the top navigation bar and I'll just keep 'What's for dinner tonight' on the right so it doesn't get too unwieldy.

I hope that some of the stuff we're eating inspires you to drop out meat a couple of nights too if you haven't already. 

I also cannot recommend Johnathan Safran Foer's book Eating Animals highly enough. He's a fantastic writer and very even-handed with this. I think it's brilliant. 

I know there will be be eye rolling and disagreement with this post, but that's what comments are for! Tell me what you think. (Then let me make you my vegetarian moussaka and tell me you still missed the meat! Never!)


20 Comments on “Meat-free May

May 14, 2010 at 12:09 am

I’ve landed here somewhat randomly….but I’m not rolling my eyes at all. I think that the way meat is produced is a shame. Is “organic” another way to say “in denial”?

But I do think that meat is important to my family’s health, and I’ve found that if my active young ones don’t have meat — not every night, but sooner or later –they are just too hungry. As much as I don’t want to be dependent on meat (especially in today’s industrialized market), I am more wary of soy –also a highly industrialized food –in all its forms.

So I’m always torn.

I think it’s too bad that your grandfather put things in terms of “fitting in” — because what you were interested in was doing the right thing. But could there be a point in what he said, maybe unexpressed? That food is so important to human interaction that making yourself “difficult” in others’ eyes isn’t worth it? I don’t mean to be contentious…

You hit it right when you said that having good recipes at your fingertips is the only way to be inspired and make changes.

May 14, 2010 at 3:11 am

Fi, yes, please! We’re eating vegetarian (same deal as you, I just serve veggie meals, except I still usually put meat on Dave’s lunch sandwich,) Mon/Wed/Fri every week. I was intending this to be permanent, but now I’m thinking of just making it Mon to Wed (or Thurs, if I can push Dave that little bit further) as I HATE waste, and leftovers are so much more complicated with alternating days. Anyway, yes, my list of veg ideas is a bit thin, so please, please share yours!
I suspect that people who object to vegetarianism during pregnancy are assuming that you are missing something vital in your diet- I know you are sensible enough that you are not. A friend is vegan and a dietician- yes, it’s harder, but it’s not impossible, and your baby IS NOT suffering from it. I’m sure quite the opposite, (god, the things I see people eat! and feed their kids!) and I expect you’re not worrying, but I’d like to say it anyway- don’t worry, love.
And thank you, on behalf of the planet. (Never miss an opportunity to act as spokesperson for the planet.) Love you!

May 14, 2010 at 4:31 am

YAY! I’m so glad you’re giving vegetarianism a try…

…hoping it sticks…

May 14, 2010 at 7:58 am

I’d love to see the list of vege meals and while I’m not considering becoming a vegetarian, we have 2-3 vege meals now a week- thanks for the inspiration 🙂 And it IS saving us sooo much money (a lovely added bonus).
P.S. I didn’t know that about Pop!
P.P.S. Please, please cook us the vege moussaka next time we’re over for lunch- sounds fab!!

May 14, 2010 at 9:00 am
May 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

I am far from vegetarian, in fact I am a pretty committed omnivore, but that is my choice and I am comfortable with the reasoning behind my choice so I see no reason to judge or roll my eyes at anyone else’s choice.

I applaud anyone who eats with a conscious understanding of what they are eating and why.. so go you! Enjoy it and keep sharing those delicious meal ideas, meat or not meat… please 🙂

Leah King
May 14, 2010 at 11:31 am

I’m married to a pretty committed meat eater, however we have managed to strike a pretty good balance during the week of meat v. vegetarian meals. Fi, I will send you a great felafel recipe I am in love with … it’s reasonably quick to make – the time is just in the frying. We eat them with yoghurt/tahini sauce, pickled chillies, olives and salad. If I wasn’t gluten free, there would definitely be some pita in there too. And it’s a great vegetarian meal that Gavin doesn’t really consider to be vegetarian. Oh, and another great source of vegie dishes is Kylie Kwong’s “My China” – heaps of idea for vegetable stir fries, noodles, etc.

May 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

awesome, was just thinking about felafel yesterday – would LOVE your recipe!!

May 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hi Leila, thanks for your thoughtful comment. My Pop was, I think, saying exactly that: that a food choice is not worth making yourself socially difficult. This is something I’ve always disagreed with though. If I was allergic to wheat people would be happy to accommodate that difficulty, for example, it’s when it is an active choice that it becomes sticky. Foer talks a lot about this in his book when he’s offered some ham at a family-run farm who raise and slaughter their animals as humanely as possible. Foer is super conscious of not wanting to cause offense or be difficult. I figure: if I’m invited to someone’s house, I offer to take a vegetarian dish. Maybe they’ll love it.

May 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Thanks dude

A warning if you’re clicking through – this is pretty full on and definitely not for the kids! Shocking footage of slaughterhouses.

May 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Thanks for all your comments so far: I’ll post the list of vegie meal ideas tonight! xxx

May 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

firslty i have to say i loved the mini apple cupcakes from the other day = i had to rush out and buy some granny smith apples so i could cook them. delivious.

secondly, we only eat red meat a few times a fortnight ( i shop and plan fortnightly)

we actually have one ‘meat’ night – which includes chicken, fish or red meat- and then a vege meal the next night.

fi- did you try the fruit and veg curry or the chick pea curry yet?
i did the chick pea curry again the other ngiht and am constantly amazed at how my boys love it and tuck in happily. it’ snot spicy enough for me though

Simone Thorpe
May 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Hi there! Haven’t dropped into your blog for ages. As you know I have two beautiful kids & whilst pregnant with my second child I decided to change my diet to no red meat. I loved it & found it such a healthy choice. I think whether you eat meat or be a vegie only eater it’s YOUR choice and that’s all that matters. I love that you have the confidence to voice your views on your blog. Thanks as always for sharing with us. x

May 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I could bang on about this for an hour, but I just woke up so I’ll try to be brief.

The biggest problem in AUS is HOW we eat meat. We are so spoiled for good quality meat, a whole beast is slaughtered; we see nothing but two fillets in a plastic tray at the supermarket. Australians have become immune to what those two fillets looked like inside the animal and we don’t eat any of the less pretty stuff. We’ve been sanitised.

Jamie and Hugh Fearnley-Whittigstall talk a lot about this. IF you are going to kill it, have the respect to eat the whole thing. Just like they do in many European countries; the filets are out of most people’s price range, so kidneys, liver and sweetbreads as well as the chunky bony bits, are common on cafe menus.

I can’t stomach it all, my Australian tastes were trained young, so I eat one piece of meat once a week. I’ve replaced the rest with fish, but am starting to feel not so good about that either….

And yes, the list please!!!!

Jodie Petrov
May 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Oh Fi, you’re far to happy to ever be a vegan! 😉


May 15, 2010 at 12:31 am

See, you are very considerate! I love your attitude.

May 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I heard Adam laughing out loud while reading this post on the laptop, came in, he’d just read this comment. Very funny. xxx

Jodie Petrov
May 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Hey, I meant to say too that I’ve made your baked beans and tuna mornay both this week, and Oli and I loved them (Andrew was away). I had lots of leftovers which Oli continues to scoff whenever they’re presented!

And Ad, you know what I mean! J.


Earth Mama
May 17, 2010 at 4:14 am

That is too funny about what your grandfather said. I got the same thing when I was younger. I tried to give up meat eating for lent (because my family was Catholic I thought I could get away with it). Nope. I wasn’t allowed. And when I was pregnant with my 1st, and vegan, my family thought I was going to have a ‘sick’ baby. When she was born at 9lbs 13oz, they stopped talking and guessed I knew what I was doing. Keep up the good work. I’d love ot give your vegetarian moussaka a try!


December 21, 2010 at 7:06 am

It is completely silly that people would judge you for not eating meat while pregnant when it is obvious that your diet is far healthier than the average! Besides which eating meat from animals that have been reared on single grain/soy diets isn’t that healthy at all as the animals are lacking in vitamins from having a plain diet.

Livestock rearing has caused huge problems with soil degradation and salinity and the space needed for one head of cattle is far more than the space needed to feed a family with a veggie patch. While I am not a vegetarian I always go for veggie options, they’re cheap, nourishing and I know they’re good for the environment! Love your meal list, very doable!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *