A few weeks ago, I published a piece on Heated about so-called "Veganuary" (aka picking January or, I suppose, some other month of the year, to go vegan). A reporter asked me about the concept, and I basically said this:
“You’re going to eat all the animal products you want 11 months of the year and you’re going to be ‘vegan’ in January and you want to know what benefits that might have brought you?”
OK. First, tell me what you ate the rest of the year, and then tell me what you ate in Veganuary.
Because if you have 12 Old-Fashioneds a day during the other 11 months of the year and you stop drinking for Drynuary, your liver is still going to “look like a Turner sunset,” in the words of P.G. Wodehouse.
Similarly, if you’re eating Whoppers daily for lunch and pepperoni pizza for dinner from Meatebruary through Pizzcember, you could stop eating altogether or eat only kale in January, and you’ll extend your lifespan by like 10 minutes.
There's a link to the rest of the piece below, but the point is this: We should aim not to absolve ourselves with one month of virtuous eating, but to eat a smart, balanced diet every day.
People ask me all the time where this leaves meat, and this is my response: If you're going to eat meat, eat better meat. This does not mean you have to blow your budget, but rather that if you stick to your budget, you'll wind up eating less meat. Here's how I think about it (this from something I wrote a handful of years ago in the New York Times):
The price of food in general is what economists call “inelastic” — you’re going to eat something no matter the cost. But the price of any particular food like meat is elastic — you will buy less as it becomes more expensive. Though it may at first seem paradoxical, this is a good thing from nearly every perspective.
I am saying this: Spend the same $30, or $50 or $100 or $300 on meat that you now spend each week or month, but buy less and buy better. You might compare this to an annual purchase of 20 $5 T-shirts made by child labor versus one of five $20 T-shirts made by better-paid and better-treated workers from organic cotton. Expensive meat from real farms is a more extreme example of this less-is-better policy.
If you take this approach, you'll start to cook meat differently, and to use it like the special treat that it is. This often means inverting the ratio of meat to other things (vegetables, grains, beans), so that it plays more of supporting role. If you're interested, below are 16 recipes (from that same New York Times article) that offer a blueprint for this kind of cooking, and can help to get meat-eaters in the right frame of mind for the rest of the year.
Trust me; If you're buying and cooking better meat and less of it, you can say goodbye to "Veganuary" for good. See you Friday.
We gotta get over the “sin all week and go to confession on Sunday” thing. The day (or month) of atonement — the “I’m going to be ‘good’ for 20 minutes so I can sin for the rest of my life” thing — just doesn’t work.
A selection of recipes, all of which use pork, beef, lamb or veal as supporting or even bit players, letting vegetables and grains move to center stage.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.