The 99% Vegetarian
Written by Taly Matiteyahu (CEO of Blink, an audio-only blind speed dating app)
I grew up observing kosher dietary rules, including ones that prohibited meals that combined meat with dairy and had rules about the length of time you needed to wait after eating meat until you could consume dairy (and vice versa). Beyond that, I could only eat certain types of meat and seafood (e.g. no piggy for me — those 3 little bros would be fine building their houses near me!) This meant that from a young age, I thought about meat as merely a potential part of a meal, but not the defining element of a meal. As an adult, I continue to observe certain kosher dietary rules, but over time I’ve moved away from eating meat. My diet is now 99% plant-based and occasionally includes meat substitutes like Beyond Meat.
My transition away from eating any meat happened over time and was driven by my desire to keep meals simple, eat healthy and interesting food, save money grocery shopping, and improve the planet.
As someone who keeps kosher, the prohibition on mixing meat and dairy can make meal preparation more complicated. For example, we can’t use butter in any recipe that calls for meat, can’t have cheeseburgers, and can’t eat meat sauces that contain any cream. Beyond that, my partner and I have taken to eating a scoop of ice cream almost every night (if you don’t have an ice cream maker, I’d highly recommend it – it’s not too expensive and it’s been one of our best ever appliance purchases), which we couldn’t do if we ate meat. By cutting meat out of our diets, I’ve been able to simplify decisions around meal time… without sacrificing my beloved ice cream tradition 🙂
Healthy & Interesting Food
In addition to a love for daily ice cream, I’m passionate about food generally. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to try new restaurants. With that said, I’ve found meals centered around meat less interesting to eat and prepare. Some of this might be because it’s easy to mess up cooking meat and, frequently, meals are passed off as interesting because of the quantity or quality of meat they contain (ooohhh… but this burger has 2lbs of prime meat!!!).
By contrast, the number of vegetables, fruits, grains, and other produce available to cook is endless and lends itself to countless different types of preparations and styles. Getting eggplant prepared in different ways with different spices or a different type of daal for every day of the week is priceless.
Meat is expensive. Living in New York City as a college student and then as a new grad, I saved money anywhere I could: I used the library and didn’t buy books, I started making cocktails at home rather than paying a premium at a bar, and I closely tracked my spending on groceries. Replacing meat with grains, vegetables, and beans saves a lot of money.
The final nail in the coffin of my meat consumption was my growing understanding of the meat industry’s environmental impact. For me, cutting meat out of my diet is one way that I can help our planet. While it may be hard for some people to cut meat out of their lives entirely, even cutting one meat meal out of your weekly routine can have a significant, positive environmental impact. Meat replacements, like Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat, are a great way to replace the flavor or texture of meat if you decide to go occasional or full vegetarian. If you aren’t interested in meat substitutes, there are also plenty of ways you can get creative with different vegetarian options. For example, tofu or leftover broccoli stalks can be crisped up and used as a nice taco filling or, diced up, a great textured topping for a pasta.
So What’s the 1%?
Ok, so what’s the 1% of meat I consume, you ask? It’s the meat in my grandmother’s cooking. Beyond the fact that I don’t want to hurt her feelings by turning down her food during our typical annual visits (she lives in a different country)… her food is incredible and brings back amazing memories of summers spent visiting family. I’ve made some of her recipes using veggie or meat substitutes and enjoy those, but being able to bond with my grandmother over her cooking has been rewarding for me and is definitely worth the margin of error between being 99% and 100% vegetarian ☺️
Transitioning into a Plant-Based Lifestyle
Transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle has been a process for me and my motivations have changed over time. My experience may not mirror others’ experiences and it’s important for people to commit to lifestyle choices that are appropriate for them given their circumstances, but I believe it’s important for each one of us to examine our diet decisions and consider how we can make healthier, more sustainable choices for ourselves and our planet.
Adopting A Plant-Based Life Adopting A Plant-Based Life Adopting A Plant-Based Life Adopting A Plant-Based Life Adopting A Plant-Based Life