At 7:55 this morning I get an email from pal Jim Ruiz (Legendary) with the subject line Dagen Zonder Vlees–which translates to “Days Without Meat.” He saw on the Belgian National News that 4000 people signed up for the 40 day challenge, and wonders if we should join with a Minneapolis branch.
“You’re on!” I respond.
Jim registers us on the Belgian DZV site as the Minneapolis Vegtable Vikings. Either he doesn’t have spellcheck, or the Minneapolis VegEtable Vikings was already taken. Either way…
I’m already vegetarian, so I ask myself, where is my glory to be found in this challenge? I decide to also go dairy and egg-free until Easter.
The nice thing about the challenge is there are six days of “lapses” built in–if you choose:
“Between Ash Wednesday and Easter there are in fact 46 days. Nevertheless speak men traditionally of the forty day time because the 6 Sundays don’t count. So if you thus only one day per week will eat meat during this period, you will receive a score of 40/40. 46 meatless days is the highest objective but each day counts.” Translation by Jim Ruiz.
Which means it’s not too late for you to join in the fun. Even if you start tomorrow or the next day, you have a great chance to hit 40 meatless days.
I ain’t too proud to save up my lapse days for running wild on our upcoming trip to NYC, where I’ll accompany Jim on Red Rickenbacker at the Chickfactor’s For the Love of Pop Showcase. Jim’s line up features Emily Cahill on drums and my sister Charlotte Crabtree on bass. Come see us if you’re in the vicinity!
But enough about cool guitars. There are many worthy reasons to follow a vegetarian diet or to simply reduce your meat consumption.
The Blue Zones Project works with top scientists to study pockets around the world where people live longer and report the highest levels of well being. They list the dietary “plant slant” among their Power 9 for living longer. Beans, including lentils, fava, black and soy are the dietary cornerstone of most people who live to be 100+.
Producing animal-based food is typically much less efficient than the direct harvesting of grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds and fruits for human consumption. The meat industry creates nearly 1/5 of global greenhouse gas emissions. Read about environmental vegetarianism. The Minneapolis Vegtable Vikings DZV Site will calculate how much our collective ecological footprint has been reduced on each day that we live meat-free. Of course the results will be in Dutch, so Jim will need to translate for us. But that’s half the fun, really.
Ethical Treatment of Animals
I dislike industrial farming practices, especially when it comes to animals. Driving past the feedlots in the southwest is enough to curb anybody’s appetite. Personally I feel we degrade ourselves when we eat meat from animals that have been treated poorly. You can find grass fed/free range meats, but for me it’s easier (and cheaper) to go veggie.
Seven years ago when I decided to try a year without meat, I hadn’t made any permanent decisions. I just knew the whether-or-not-to-eat-meat question was too often on my mind. I would never be able to answer the question without actually trying vegetarianism to see firsthand what it was like. Once I did try it, the question just disappeared. Clearing this head space for other thoughts was well worth giving up meat-eating.
Exploring the Cornucopia
Going vegetarian got me interested in eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch. I eat a wider variety of grains, legumes and vegetables, and feel much more connected to and knowledgeable about the foods I eat.
My personal experience with vegetarianism has been great. I feel that everyone should try it for at least a year, which is long enough to physically adjust and to build up a solid repertoire of recipes you like. Even if you go back to eating meat, I have no doubt the experience will favorably expand your eating habits for the rest of your life.
Three cheers for the Minneapolis Vegtable Vikings! Thanks for reading the Wednesday Post.