Monday, July 26, 2010

The Vegan-ing of the End

I lasted about a year as a vegan. I can't remember what year it even was at this point, because, all told, the experience was pretty forgettable. I remember less about the changes in my body, the experiments with new foods, the realigned social agenda than I do about my longing for pizza. So back to dairy I went, with barely little more than a "smell ya later" to the vegan ethos.

Meat, on the other hand, I've had no real longing for over the years. I've said it before, and I'll try not to hammer this point home too much, but I grew up hating the meat portion of tri-component meals (the ol' protein-starch-veggie combo). If there were a late-night commercial advertising a CD compilation of People's Reactions To My Meatless Diet, some of the greatest hits would include:

1) Don't you miss ___ [steak, burgers, hot dogs, bacon, sausage]?
2) What does your mom cook for you? (I was 16 when I stopped eating meat)
3) You'll stop being vegetarian eventually.

First of all, do those compilation CD's even still exist? There's a reason why "Jungle Boogie" is perpetually followed by "Lady Marmalade" in my head, and I think it has something to do with a little thing called Disco Fever, available for the low, low price of $14.95. In 1994. Second of all, Color Me Badd as Track #3 is on repeat.

With the increasing awareness of socially- and environmentally responsibly produced meat and dairy products, I wonder if more vegans and vegetarians are inclined to switch back to animal proteins. I wonder what the data is. I wonder if people really are buying more locally and humanely raised animal products. I wonder if locavores are the new vegans.

Hold your fire, vegan punk-rockers and PETA cheerleaders. When I think about my experience with veganism - personally and vicariously - I think about its unbreakable connection to the visual art, music, and social reform. Then I look at the small cheese producers, chocolate-makers, butchers and restaurateurs who are currently on my radar. The artisan- and local food movement of today feels a lot like the vegan an vegetarian communities of eight, twelve, and (from what I've heard and read) twenty years ago. - artists, hippies, punk-rock kids of all ages with a motivation to change shit up and make delicious dreams come true.

Lemme cut to the chase - last week, I bought and cooked meat for the first time in over a decade. I hit the Brookline Farmer's Market hard, snatching up plump corn, vibrant bell peppers, and precious, petite potatoes. With great trepidation, then a surge of conviction, I approached the line for River Rock Farm. They offer a selection of fresh, dry-aged beef for seemingly affordable prices. I bought the lest expensive and most approachable cut - kebabs, $8.95 a pound. I took home 1.23 lbs (which yielded three meals for two people). Not only did I take on cooking beef for the first time, well, ever (I seriously think I've only ever cooked chicken breast), but I also made my maiden voyage on the grill. Long story short - I kicked the ass of both meat and grill. Oh good golly it was so good. Sock it to me, patriarchy.

Stupid-Simple Beef Kebabs (From A Gal Who's Blind at the Grill)

1- 1 1/4 lbs sirloin beef, cut into manageable chunks (very technical, I know. if this hadn't been efficiently cut into chunks, I wouldn't have known what to do with it. I have so much to learn)
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
juice from one lemon
a few splashes of soy sauce
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
some chopped parsley or mint
assorted veggies cut into 1/2'' cubes (I used onions, bell peppers, and new potatoes)
sea salt 'n' groun' peppa

Soak some wooden skewers in water for a half an hour. Toss everything but the beef and veggies into a bowl; cover and shake or whisk to combine. Add the beef and veggies; toss to marinate. Refrigerate for an hour. Um, then the stuff goes on a skewers, the skewers go on a pretty hot grill, turn the skewers over and marinate frequently. When the veggies can be poked without too much give, they're done. When the meat is no longer alarmingly bloody, it's done (or something like that).


Nine said...

How terrific that you made three meals for two people from your purchase. For my own part, I think it is important out of respect for the animals that feed us that we take full advantage of their bounty.

If you are open to a suggestion and/or an invitation, I would love to have you over some time for free range, humanely-slaughtered roast chicken. Then we can make some stock and really waste nothing. I would love to see that process documented.

J'Hab@lavidaveggie said...

Can you teach me how to take apart a whole chicken?? I need to learn! And there is nothing more economical. I'll even share the silly little blessing that I've devised to pay homage to the critters I eat.

Marisa said...

you two are freaking adorable

Nine said...

Yes! I actually roasted 2 chickens last night and have gotten pretty good at butchering them into recognizable parts: breast, thighs, wings. It's kinda gross, I admit. But it is economical and somehow assuages some of the meat-guilt.

Johnny Chefcoat said...

Hooray Beer!

FJK said...

It's better to be honest with yourself and your readers. I congratulate you not because you now eat meat (I'm not a "meatist"), but because you now know yourself so much better.

I'm sure vegetables will be a large part of what will remain a very thoughtful, healthy diet.

Sarah Smith said...

This Looks so good! i would want to try and make this. I am not a great cook though so it might take me a few times to get it just right! i feel like it would take a while to get it prepared. maybe you could add some more vegatables or swap some out for your favorite ones! this looks like a healthy meal! must try it!

Ashley Hughes said...

I went vegan for a year and it was supper hard! But i honestly felt so better and now im just a vegetarian because meat hurts my stomach!