Friday, December 28, 2012

Simple Christmas idea #28 -- Have a meatless meal

Take a break from turkey...

As a cradle Catholic, I was raised with meatless meals on Friday as a sign of respect for the fact that Jesus died on Good Friday -- a form of penance. It's a long standing tradition in the Catholic world -- though it's never been much of a penance for people who like to eat fish. As a Catholic who is tired of the church's overemphasis on sin and guilt, I continue to observe meatless Fridays -- but for a few other reasons besides Good Friday.

For one, I'm finding it harder and harder to enjoy meat when I learn about factory farming and the living conditions in which animals are raised for our dinner tables. For two, the meat industry has had some pretty serious health scare issues in the last little while in the meat processing plants. And for three, I think the hormones and antibiotics in some kinds of meat in particular don't agree with me at all. I have had some pretty serious stomach cramps at three in the morning, the kind that make me wonder if maybe I should go to emergency. But most important of all, animals deserve our respect, and our planet does, too. The meat industry is one of the biggest polluters and destroyers of our environment, when you think about how many resources it takes to raise a pound of beef in comparison to a pound of vegetables.

Our meat consumption as a family has dropped fairly steadily over the last few years, and even more so since Christina has started cooking out of vegetarian cookbooks. So not only do we have meatless Fridays, but we're into other meatless days, too. It's good for us to try new things and eat lower on the food chain.

So today's Simple Christmas idea is to have a simpler meal that doesn't involve meat of any kind. Ours will likely consist of a soup I made from our garden produce and froze in the fall, homemade bread, canned tomatoes, and Christmas baking. Or maybe Christina will make us a tofu dish. Either way, we, the animals, and our planet all win.

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