Summer Cook Off – Week 3

Week Three Challenge

Vegetables

This one might seem simple – but there are two important criteria!

The challenge this week is a full vegetable meal! And it is summer which means outdoor cooking – but the grill can do more than just cook meat! That is a big part of the challenge this week – to change our mindsets away from thinking of meals as meat with sides!

Here are the criteria for the week:

  1. Vegetable based!
    –> NO animal products (dairy, cheese, eggs….none of that!)
  2. Avoid meat replacements
    –> example – not a vegetable ‘burger’
    –> let’s work at honouring the vegetables themselves as the stars vs. seeing how we can make vegetable versions of meat dishes!

That is it!

I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

-Coach Taylor

Week Three Learning

Honestly, as a culture we eat way to much meat. It is a sign of our affluence. We can afford it. Most of the world does not consume meat with every meal, nor even daily! And our penchant for eating meat not just daily but multiple times a day is a hugely destructive force environmentally and culturally.

Did you know that most corn and soy that is grown is actually grown for animal feed? These two monocultures are creating massive environmental damage all in order to feed animals being raised for food. Not only is that happening but these aren’t even good food sources for those animals! Know why cows are fed a diet of antibiotics? Because they are always sick from eating too much corn, which they are not designed to digest! Rain forests and other important ecosystems around the world are being torn apart to create land for raising animals for us to consume or for growing monocultures to feed animals to consume. Think about that next time you are purchasing Brazilian beef.

Most of the meat is for affluent countries that can afford it. We have been marketed to in an effort to convince us that we need far more meat in our diets than we actually do. That is a huge topic for another post!

There are also huge issues culturally as our penchant for meat wreaks havoc on the economies and environments of less affluent countries. To keep Costco coolers lines with plastic wrapped ‘affordable’ meat we destroy the livelihoods and environments of many people. People who cannot afford to eat their traditional foods any longer because of our burgeoning demand.

It doesn’t have to be like this!

There is a wonderful rise of more sustainable agriculture happening that I truly hope continues to grow. Farms and farmers that raise animals and crops together in a more harmonious way that honours how ecosystems have evolved to work together. Regenerative agriculture is being practiced and refined across the world and in doing so we are re-discovering far superior methods of food production that were lost with the advent of modern mass farms and chemical sprays.

In order to fully embrace this trend, however, we must recognize our over-consumption of meat.

Listen, I am a lover of meat. I cook a mean brisket, awesome steak, stews, pork chops, a wicked duck breast, and just about anything else you can think of. I love all things meat.

But I have discovered something. We eat too much of it. Not only is this a challenge for all of the reasons I have just discussed, BUT, it also isn’t good for our health. The myth of the hunter gather cultures feasting on mammoth steaks and gnawing bones is just that – a myth. All anthropologic evidence points to the fact that humans have always been mostly plant based. Sorry keto advocates but you’re just wrong. A huge problem is that plant foods don’t preserve well, whereas bones do. So when we analyze deep history it appears that we ate more meat than we actually did. Modern research technologies are finally allowing us to garner a better understanding of what we actually ate – and yes – that even includes grains! Which we were eating long before the rise of farming!

We can bypass all of this by a very simple analysis of our teeth and digestive tracts. Human physiology is designed primarily to eat plants. That is why we have those beautiful flat molars, no sharp canines, and a very long digestive track with a relatively low ph. Yes, we are omnivores and eat meat with zero problems, however, don’t let yourself be deceived that we are mostly a plant based species!

All of this to say – we need to eat more plants.

That is why this week we are having a plant based challenge! I call them vegetable days.

I do not identify as a vegan or vegetarian, however, I eat plant based food multiple days a week. Vegans and vegetarians have their own identity and systems etc. and I am a big supporter of them, however, I am an omnivore, so I stay away fro having a ‘vegetarian’ or a ‘vegan’ day. Hence, plant days. It simply means that on those days I only eat plants and no animal products. Plant days. I do this at least once a week and sometimes as many as four nights a week. One thing I have noticed – I always feel amazing after plant days. There is something to it.

One other thing I do my best to avoid and something I am putting directly into this weeks challenge is trying to avoid recreating meat dishes with plants. I mean, there is nothing wrong with it and I have made my fair share of black bean or lentil burgers! But I think it is important to realize something else.

Vegetables are delicious. They are diverse. They don’t need to become recreations of meat. We don’t need to make them ‘like a steak’ or ‘taste just like meat’, or even craft them so they bleed like meat. All this does is reinforce the idea that meat is a main and vegetables are the sides. I want people to begin to understand that vegetables themselves are fantastic in all of their natural glory.

So a big part of this weeks challenge is to discover ways that plant days can hold their own! And the idea of always needing meat is something that has been devised and marketed to us. We don’t have to conform!

There are 800 bajillion resources online for discovering interesting and unique plant based meals and food. Dig in and let’s see what we can come up with!

BONUS for those taking the cook-off challenge: make the entire day a plant day – not just the one meal. I only eat once a day so it is pretty simple, however, if you are a more three meals a day person, I challenge you to make the whole day plant based…and then pay attention to how you feel the next day. You might be surprised!

-Coach Taylor

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