Can a Food Writer Go Meatless for a Month?
We all have to eat for our well being, but not all of us have to eat for a living. Missy Frederick does. The restaurant and retail writer for the Washington Business Journal dines at area restaurants about five (or more) times a week, trying new menus and scouting out expired leases. But for March she chose a different path—abstaining from meat. Well, mostly. She tracked her status on her vibrant Twitter feed (she was just nominated for TBD's best #DCjournotweeps) and her recipe blog and is here to tell us how an omnivore food writer can survive without flesh.
What inspired you go meatless for the month?
It was a combination of different factors: eating less meat, wanting to know where meat comes from, losing weight. I thought we'd [with husband John Porvaznik] go cold turkey so then it'd be easier to eat less meat when we reintroduce it.
What did you miss the most?
Pho with brisket and flank steak from Pho 75. And I've been craving Peruvian chicken even though I don't normally eat it. Every time I drove home, I thought, "I could go for Super Chicken."
Where did you find the best meatless eats about town?
Anytime I went Asian, I was happy. Four Sisters has a whole vegetarian section and Dino had a vegetarian tasting menu from two different farms and that was terrific. I'd never been to Asylum before and was in Adams Morgan reviewing Dr. Horrible at DCAC and tried their vegetarian cheese steak and it wasn't bad.
What was the hardest part of staying meatless?
Making sure you asked beyond the menu descriptions. I wanted an asparagus soup but it was made with chicken broth so I didn't get it. It's hard at places that are least descriptive with their menu. And bar food was hard to find anything other than fried cheese.
What did you learn?
Restaurants are becoming more conscious. Carmine's had a entire separate menu for different allergies and restrictions (garlic, dairy, wheat/gluten and vegetarian and vegan menus.) It wasn't as challenging as I thought it was going to be in the beginning.
What would you say to encourage someone trying to eat meatless for a month?
Try to do as much home cooking as possible. We made tempeh, but was not a fan, and seitan. We also made mushroom masala and seitan stroganoff.
Would you do it again?
I think in general I will just eat less meat and I'm probably going to stay with not eating meat for breakfast and lunch. I would have no problem to do it again, but it was more about adapting to a more conscious style. We're trying to be more of a flexitarian and know the source of our food. If we've gone back to our old ways we might do it again next March. But if someone invites us over for a chicken dinner we're not going to say no. We're not going to turn into a Portlandia sketch.
Photo courtesy Joanne Lawton/Washington Business Journal