Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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No Meatsies 

Last photo I took of Skullface.

Haven't seen Skullface for the past two weeks, which, I'm certain he's gone to visit family for the holidays so just shut up about it, okay? He's probably living it up on a beautiful farm somewhere, eating too much, drinking too much alcohol and fighting with relatives, just like the rest of us.

On our way back from looking for Skullface for the second or third time I spotted a skinny, exhausted-looking black cat digging in somebody's trash and jokingly said "Hey, why don't you head up the street, stupid lady that lives there is already feeding three cats, I'm sure she won't mind another mouth." I was referring to myself, of course.

I'll be damned if I didn't flip on the porch light last night and see a streak of black as he bolted for the shadows. I'm not going to lie, I was slightly thrilled that he/she had heeded my words. Which only indicates a further descent into cat lady madness.

Anyway, I've been meaning to tell you as passively and non-aggressively as possible that it's been, like, nearly four months or something like that since I've eaten any meat. Because listen, I hear someone drone on and on about how they don't eat meat and I want to punch them in the mouth and then force feed them a package of bacon. It's just how I'm wired. There's only one thing worse than someone handing back the cookie you just made them because "it has dairy" and that's someone who responds to your query of whether or not they saw the latest episode of The Walking Dead with "We don't watch TV at our house."

C'mon over to my place then so I can escort your head into my TV.

So yeah. No meatsies up in here. Except seafood. Well, not even seafood in general, just shrimp. We've been eating a lot of shrimp stir fry. I haven't really missed meat either, to be honest with you. I made vegetarian chili, all kinds of vegetarian stir fries, Indian vegetable curry and a really excellent shrimp taco recipe I got from The Pioneer Woman after I googled "shrimp tacos" and her recipe was first on the list.

With the exception of chicken, I didn't really eat a whole lot of meat in the first place. When I have a jones for some chicken I buy these Boca chicken patties and I'm telling you, they're great. Tony the Tiger grrrreat! I'm not saying it would feature on the menu at 21 Club in Manhattan (although apparently it would be too good for Guy Fieri's new restaurant) I'm just saying it doesn't harken the flavor of sawdust I would expect from imitation chicken and, in fact, I probably wouldn't know it wasn't real chicken if you served it to me and didn't tell me.

Matter of fact, I like all the Boca products which include burgers and crumbles and other soy type stuffs that can satisfy your hamburger craving. Once I had a burger craving and I went to McDonalds and bought an extra large order of fries and hoovered the whole thing in 2.2. seconds and all was well. Turns out, it wasn't necessarily the burger I wanted, just the fast food grease vibe.

Surprisingly, Serge is pretty much going along with the whole thing. I think he made a chicken stir fry for himself a couple times but that's it. He's really into all these new vegetable and shrimp curries and stir fry dinners we're trying out.

Oh and guess what? I finally kicked a pretty intense, years-long Diet Coke habit. Haven't had a Diet Coke since I stopped with the meat. I'd tell you how I did it but I'll save that smug post for another day. This whole thing is probably enough for one day, right? I mean, oh my God who am I over here ranting about cats, soy products and my really fantastic vegetarian chili recipe? At least I didn't use the word lentil anywhere but still! What's happening to me?

Maybe I do need medication.

Okay, so what about you? What is your diet like as the foodiest food holiday of all holidays approaches? Are you being good? Or not so much? What is your current obsession? What's going on in your food world, I'm genuinely curious!

Reader Comments (26)

That's awesome :-) Good for you!
I have about 30-40 pounds to lose before my brother's 4th of July wedding, so I'm changing my eating habits now. I'm cutting out gluten and limiting my sugar. I also really enjoy Indian vegetable curries and I just discovered these baked lentil chips that are a wonderful subsitute for my potato chip cravings.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrace Miller

Don't hate me but McD's fries are made with beef fat.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Monica, you're the best. You might be my very favorite meatless person ever. (And I hear you: I'm wild about french fries. I love them so much they're practically a vice)

Generally, my diet's pretty good and I'm in fairly good shape. But my husband has hit a weight that he's really unhappy about, so I'm trying to encourage him that we'll do the healthy lifestyle thing together (Since ladies, let's face it: when guys do even small changes they see a ton of progress right away, whereas we have to really push it!), so I can help him not feel alone in it. If left to my own devices, I usually just say "whatevs" about the holidays and eat pretty much whatever my little heart desires in a blaze of calorie glory-but this year in an effort to help my favorite guy, I have a feeling there won't be as much caloric cheer round our house. (Sigh.)

I've been crazy about making risotto. I think it's fun to have to work at something so process driven. And that's a fun meatless food too! :)

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Hooray for you!!!! I don't eat beef or lamb ever, but do eat bacon and chicken. We've hit a bit of a crappy spot, food wise. We have an 18 month old who is a really good eater. but doesn't have a ton of teeth. I find we make amazing food for him and then don't take care of ourselves. My husband and I have different work schedules. I work the 9-5 and he is all over the place but usually 12-9pm, so I feel like we need to have a come to jesus meeting for ourselves? We aren't eating fast food, just pizza once a week, but there definitely isn't much meal planning going on. He's pickier than the baby at this point, so there is also that hurdle. I'm just waiting for Futurama times when I can get my injection of femi-slim and call it a day.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchristine

Just kicked my diet mtn dew habit. Feel like superwoman. Also been making my own pasta with a fancy roller. Love the arm workout followed by luscious carbs!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermartha

You really do have to tell us how you kicked the diet coke habit. I have a nasty one myself and nothing seems to work.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Lee

I never drink soda but ordered a Cherry Coke at the new Bond movie on Sunday and have had two more since. It just tastes sooooo goooood.Ugh. I will not get addicted. I will not get addicted.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWendy P.

This is really not on subject, but the cat story reminded me of this : I was Christmas shopping a few days ago for some goofy stocking stuffers, and I saw something in a tin that said, "Approved by the Crazy Cat Lady". I totally thought of you! I was going to buy it and try to send it to you somehow, but I thought that would seem weird and stalker-ish, so I didn't...but it was really cool. Something for your bar room.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

Happy to report that Karen is incorrect, McD's fires are fried in canola oil, they made the switch several years ago.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNshPam

So what about TGiving? What will you and kids eat? I happen to like meat - not tons - but am a real sucker for lamb chops, rib eyes, etc... Gave up soda about 15 years ago after an overdose of Canfield's chocolate soda...

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGiGi

ugh, I cannot stand those "I don't own a TV" smug bastards. I just want to punch them all in the face!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I've lost 30+ pounds eating in moderation. No denying myself, just exercising and learning portions. I'm so sick of the gluten-free, soy-free, lactose-free, lolganic crap. . .I can't even tell you. I'm sick of foodies who just find annoying and irritating ways of describing good food and try to "elevate" it. I'm an English professor, I know what those words mean, don't condescend to me. I'm sick of oenophiles who act like they're too good for 2 Buck Chuck. Life is short, people, why spend it obsessing? I swear all this "healthy" foodie movement is just another form of an eating disorder (speaking as a former anorexic) coupled with asshole smugness. The only thing I can't and won't eat is chicken (which I love and I still cheat every now and again with Popeye's) because it exacerbates my chronic fatigue syndrome.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjeneria

This one made me laugh out loud, yo. Yup, I just wrote yo. Ironically. Or maybe not. But I also say kudos on your vanquishing the DC--that one is a bitch but totally worthwhile.... also meatless over here; just the fish gets eaten but I recently also parted ways with gluten. That is a rabbit hole I don't recommend. I had a bagel this morning and it was fantastic so gimme all your gluten I say and eff you food police! Godspeed on all these endeavors, Monica, is what I mean to say--especially those borne of a wish to not harm animals. Oh, and fyi: you're not a cat lady until they move into the house.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE.

ps: Those rainbow photos are insanely beautiful. Very jealous photog here.

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE.

Like you my diet has also changed
Since Aug. I have cut way back on can goods and processed food
I stopped coffee, booze,sugar wheat and yeast.
I started drinking organic tea,making things sweet with stevia, drinking almond milk,eating mostly brown rice and whole foods.
I lost 10 pounds, my mood has improved, I feel great and have NO MORE bloating- which is fantastic!

November 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershuga

Grew up about as landlocked as landlocked could be in good ole' Southern Missouri. Since moving to the Pac NW, my eyes have been opened to sushi. And I can't get enough. I crave it every day, and literally demand we eat it at least once a week. My husband recently (jokingly?) told me I was starting to look and smell like a fish, and I am afraid I might start glowing from all the mercury. I have actually had nightmares I was pregnant- not because I don't like kiddos (I love em) but because I would have to give up my beloved nigiri (not to mention boozy treats). I need an intervention but I DON'T CARE. :) Keep on fighting the good fight, Monica! You are a stronger woman than I!

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlerbet

we don't eat a lot of meat but we do eat some.... after reading jonathan safran foer's book 'eating animals', i made a decision to only buy meat labeled 'humanely raised' which is a bit harder to find. we've done a pretty good job of sticking with it, but sometimes i get lax... and then feel guilty. it's really sad to me that all animals raised for food are not humanely raised. hopefully one day we will evolve to that point??

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLC

I guess my list of "things I don't eat" might seem super restrictive to some, but to be honest, it's so ingrained in my life that I often forget it's unusual.

Basically--the way we eat has been a process, an evolution. In the beginning, it was just a commitment to not drink soda or eat fast food. Then, a few years ago my husband and I decided to cut out anything with HFCS in it (which is in pretty much anything you can think of, and especially processed food), followed by the various other corn-based chemical sweeteners. Eventually, we cut back our meat intake (no red meat, then no poultry, then no seafood) until we were vegetarian. About two years ago we decided to give going vegan a shot, to see how it felt. Turned out, it felt great, and was a lot easier to manage than we thought it might be. So, now we eat a vegan, no fast food, no soda, no processed food diet. Which means--we eat lots of veggies, grains, beans, nuts, fruit, plus things like seitan, Boca, tofu, etc. I've also gotten a good handle on vegan baking (with egg replacer, Earth Balance/coconut butter, and any of the many milk replacements), so dessert is still a friend to us.

Anyway. Long story short, good food = good health, for me, which has been particularly important during our non-insured years.

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I'm like you- I gave up meat and never looked back. All it took for me was biting into something hard in a burger- probably bone? Insider secret- if you are still craving fast food, Burger King has a dope veggie burger that is rarely listed on the menu. With lettuce, tomato, ketchup, and mayo it tastes just like a regular fast food burger but without the actual meat. I eat seafood too, though. I could never get up sushi!

November 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I'm one of those porkers you describe as " she has a pretty face" . But wait for it. There's hope for me yet. I recently discovered alternate day fasting because of all these other porky parents I knew who were suddenly looking remarkably healthier. They let me in on their secret and it's working for me too. Amazingly I'm actually starting to eat like a normal human being again. I thought on the "feeding" days , I'd go all out but after the first week it was like my appetite had done a reset and I became "normal". For greedy hedonists like myself, intermittent fasting works. Plus as an added bonus apparently I'm going to live until I'm 120. For naturally civilized eaters like my husband, he'd rather die than eat only every other day. Other than that weird eating habit of mine, we also usually eat only Asian meals. Our 7 mth old is already into curries, Dahl etc. We are lucky that we live in Austria so there are no gene manipulated foods allowed and organic produce is huge here and cheap.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiedlchen

We have decided to eat less meat and make sure that meat it good quality. I try to get the kids to eat lots of vegies and fruit during the day, it's not easy but i try! My latest favourite foods are: avocado mashed with spanish onion, lemon juice, tomato and home grown coriander. I could eat this all day and its vegan, but saying that, it goes so well with chicken. Im also eating lots of fresh asparagus, lightly fried with beans. YUM. Today i made the kids a fruit smoothie ice block; strawberry, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries blended with vanilla yoghurt and then frozen. They love it and berries are so healthy! I admire you for not eating meat, I know i couldnt do it, i love a good steak!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

Almost every morning, I make smoothies for me and my son in the blender -- 3 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a big scoop of chocolate Vega protein powder, two frozen bananas and half an avocado (makes it really creamy). My favorite lunch, which I have most days is Dr. McDougall's black bean soup. I add about half a cup of black beans to it and it's even better!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStarsky

Now that it's colder weather, I've been eating way too many comforting casseroles for my own good, to be honest. But also sneaking in some fairly healthy and delicious stuff, too. Two non-meat meals in recent heavy rotation, beloved by all - "Verde Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce" and "Winter-Greens Pie with Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallots and Feta". Google them and start salivating!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

My diet? Pepsi and bagel bites. Seriously. I work nights and I usually don't feel like lugging dinner to work, so I just buy them from the cafeteria at work. I haven't gained any extra weight (I've been eating them for years), but I also haven't lost any.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

I've been excercising more and tracking calories (using Sparkpeople!). I want to go healthier in the food department, but it's so difficult with both me and my husband working and 3 girls to feed. I bet I would feel al ot better though if I did start eating less processed foods.......

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndee

Monica, I'm so glad you are talking about this on your blog. I wish I had more influence. The more I learn about factory farming, the more I want to tell the world. I stopped eating meat less than a year ago, and my tastes have really changed. I actually love the taste of vegetables and fruits, and have tried so many new vegetables and grains. I don't miss the meat. Even though I loved the taste. Seafood was hardest to give up, but sadly the modern fishing methods waste 90-98% of what they scoop up, and throw all the dead sea animals out as bycatch.

I would also recommend the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. It is not just a case for vegetarianism, but a philosophical take on our relationship to animals, and how we treat them. I couldn't put it down. Like the author, I started this because of my children. My daughter would not eat animals since she was 5, even though I gave her the standard reasons why we should. She really made me think more deeply about it, and realized the story I was telling her and myself, was inadequate.

No one has to be perfect. Anything that encourages eating less meat is a positive change for our planet and our children's future.

November 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPlant-based baby!

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