Who Is This Mark Bittman?

The first information I encountered about the toll of livestock production on the environment was written by Bittman, and he seems to be writing more about it these days, so he’s all sorts of timely for this month’s eat-less-meat goal.  He writes a weekly column called “The Minimalist” on cooking and food for the New York Times.  He also writes their blog “Bitten”, which is more foodieish, as far as I can tell.  He wrote “How To Cook Everything”, and he’s done other book and a few TV series on how to cook good food, easily. He’s not a chef, though: he’s a journalist, which accounts for his penchant to get into the politics of food. You can see his TED talk about the environmental impact of eating meat here (it starts playing as soon as the page loads, which is a bit annoying, but that’s why we invented “pause”).

In this week’s Minimalist column, he gives a list of ways to shift meat from dietary prominence.  The FDA guidelines recommend 4oz. of meat a day, and while some people think that’s high, people eat, on average, twice as much as that.   Some of his ideas to shift that pattern are pretty simple- buy less meat and more vegetables- and one is pretty important.  Think about your food differently.  Don’t think about what you’re going to eat with your meat, think about how you might add some meat to what you’re going to eat.  Have the baked potato for dinner, and if you want meat, put a little bacon on top.  Make beans or stir-fry, and throw in a little meat.  Sounds all sorts of obvious, but his reassurance that it can be done simply- and that you won’t die of protein deficiency, or whatever happens because of protein deficiency- is comforting reading.

For this month’s goal, I’ve developed my own strategies to eat less meat.  Mostly, these strategies involve pasta.  Sometimes I mix it up by buying frozen pasta.  But even I’m starting to get bored by a dearth of culinary adventures.  I’ve been very good about eating a small amount of meat, no more than once a day.  About once a week, I wind up eating no meat at all.  And I’ve probably used up my red meat for the month, since I had a little beef carpaccio at a restaurant the other day, and a little sausage last night, and I have no idea what was in that sausage.

But I haven’t been very good about investigating exciting new meatless ways of eating. I’m succeeding in letter, but not in spirit.  So, new rule:  once a week, I will cook something exciting, new, and vegetarian.

Onward.

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