Monday, December 1, 2008

The Humble Beginnings of a Nation...

Some definitions.

(From Merriam-Webster's online dictionary)

Vegan: pronounced vee-gan or vee-gun.

Etymology: by contraction from vegetarian.

A strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products.

(From no published dictionary; awaiting popular recognition.)

Meagan: pronounced mee-gan or mee-gun.

Etymology: by contraction from meat and vegan.

A vegan who consumes animal foods only from sustainable, healthful and humane sources.

Welcome to the Meagan Nation. So far it's just me here, and I am getting a little lonely. Basically, my membership in the Meagan Nation means that I am following a diet of my own invention. (Yes, so far this nation is entirely based upon food choices. Perhaps when we get a few more members we can create a few more totally awesome attributes for our tribe.) I started this blog because, having now been Meagan (with some notable exceptions – we’ll get to hangovers, holidays, and holiday hangovers at a later date) for approximately three months I can attest to the fact that it kicks ass on many levels.

So what is a Meagan, exactly? In short, I am a vegan that eats meat, cheese and dairy. But before you get your vegan friends to call PETA, hear this: I will only eat animal products that come from certifiably healthy, humane environments. I see you turning to your friends right now and denouncing me as just another one of those chumps who heads straight for the “wild farms” or “healthy pastures” section of the mega-super-duper grocery butcher case. Wrong. When I say “certifiably” it means that I have done a little research. I will only eat meat/dairy/eggs that came from a farm where hormones are not used, nor are animals peremptorily pumped full of antibiotics to ensure that they will live through crowded and unsanitary conditions to see their way to the slaughterhouse. (The easiest way to do this is to eat locally enough that you can visit the farm. Farmers are nice. They’ll let you in – but you should probably call first.) Alternatively, I try to spend my food dollars with stores and restaurants where I can trust the source. Once again, I have to do my homework, or at least make some good conversation with the butcher/fishmonger/poultry guy. Even then, I am not always completely satisfied with the answers. And being that I currently live ninety minutes away from a major metropolis, most of the time this means no meat, dairy or eggs at all making me a true – gasp! – vegan.

So why do this? First and foremost, you gotta look out for Numero Uno (that’s you) and there is a plethora of medical research supporting the fact that too much animal protein is not very good for us. How much is too much? I don’t know, I haven’t read all the research. I can say that every meal, or even every day, is probably too much. The bottom line with Meaganism is that unless you hold a weekly farmer’s market in your backyard, you’re going to have a somewhat difficult time sourcing Meagan animal foods – and that’s the point! With these foods harder to procure and more expensive, chances are that you will eat fewer of them – and the ones that you do choose to eat will be “worth it” in every sense. You can consume fewer antibiotics and pesticides, support responsible farming practices, and eat only the tastiest and highest quality meats, cheeses and other delicious animal foods. Call me biased, but I fail to see a downside here.

And one last thing about Meaganism: there are several reasons I chose not to go entirely vegan. The first two are pretty obvious. MEAT IS DELICIOUS. SO IS CHEESE. However, aside from these universal truths, there is an aspect of meat-eating that veganism tends to ignore: the farmers. Like any industry, not all farmers who raise animals do it in the same way. To characterize all cattle, dairy and poultry farmers as animal torturers is both malicious and detrimental – particularly to those farmers that are trying to humanely and responsibly raise a quality product. These farms and farmers deserve both our attention and our dollars.

So that’s about it for now. Thanks for tuning into my blog! And as a special treat, I will share my 30-second hummus recipe with all of you. I will admit that if you decide, like I did, to go Meagan cold-turkey without properly stocking your cabinets first (think peanut butter – lots of it) you could get pretty hungry pretty quick. Luckily this recipe takes under a minute to prepare, goes well with any dipping vehicle from carrot to pita to spoon, and is very filling. Enjoy.

30-Second Hummus

1 28oz can chickpeas, drained

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup tahini

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little more water if the dip is too thick for your dipping preferences.