It wouldn’t shock anyone to learn that San Francisco recently passed a resolution to make Mondays “Vegetarian Day.” Everyone in the city will be encouraged to eat vegetarian meals and to avoid eating meat every Monday. It sounds like the kind of thing that could easily happen in Santa Monica next. Don’t worry. There will be no Vegetarian Police, clad in green outfits, barging into people’s homes to make sure that they aren’t having lamb chops on Monday night. This is not just a movement by people who want their fellow citizens to eat less meat to be healthier. The people behind this resolution point out, “If everyone in San Francisco eats a plant-based diet just one day a week for a year, we would save over 378,600,768 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of taking 123,822 cars off the streets of San Francisco.”
I wonder how many of those 123,822 cars are on their way to pick up a Big Mac.
Vegetarianism has, of course, increased over recent years. So it came as a big surprise to me to learn that some people are clinging onto meat. The weirdest way that they are consuming meat products is in their cocktails. They’ve given a whole new meaning to Beefeater gin.
Some hip, “in” bars are serving drinks like “Bring Home the Bacon.” That’s a concoction that contains beef bullion, vodka and a garnish of deep-fried bacon and a prosciutto-stuffed olive. Beef bullion doesn’t sound all that over the top. However, would you want to drink a cocktail containing elk bullion? There is an elk based drink called, “Big Eye Bloody Bull.” Sounds really appetizing, doesn’t it? Where do you even buy elk bullion? I’ve never seen it on a grocery store shelf, have you?
This infusion of meat into people’s lives during the vegetarian revolution doesn’t stop at the corner bar. According to Time magazine, more and more people are butchering their own meat. I’m not kidding. People are butchering their own meat in their kitchens, right next to that beautiful white tile that they spent all that money on. Now, I would never suggest that all this home butchering would save the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as VegDay. However, in one way this meat movement is “green.” That’s the color I’d turn if anyone ever did any butchering in my kitchen.
The last time I heard about a cleaver being in a home kitchen, she was named June. However, the author of “Julie and Julia,” Julie Powell, has published a new book called, “Cleaving” about home butchering. I can hardly wait to see the movie in which Meryl Streep prepares a romantic dinner by chopping off a pig’s snout.
So what’s this culinary counterrevolution all about? Why are people bringing dead animals into their kitchens? Why are they excited about a dinner of braised hoof? I have a theory. In these difficult economic times, people want to hold onto something that they’ve always felt was special. Meat has traditionally been a symbol of wealth and good times. When people want to celebrate something, they have often celebrated with the most expensive meat they can find, not with an avocado and sprouts sandwich. So maybe the attitude is, “You can take away my raise. You can take away my fancy car, you can even take away the house I bought with ridiculous credit three years ago. But keep your hands off my meat.”
Evidently, to some people, meat is an economic comfort food. Maybe when their finances are back up where they want them to be, they will look back and laugh at the time they moved yesterday’s mail, the laptop, and their kid’s relief map of South America off the kitchen counter so they could make oxtail soup from scratch.
So is it possible to reconcile these polar opposites of vegetarianism and meat-ism? I think it is. I think both sides can be happy. All the people who serve that elk bullion cocktail have to do is make sure that the menu states that the bullion is made from free range elk.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his Website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.