“Mmmm! What smells so good?” my husband asks as he walks in the house with his friend Kevin. “Vegetarian chili,” I say. “You know what I think of when you say vegetarian,” Kevin asks? “The skinny, pale guy who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach.” “So what should I call it?” “Meatless chili,” he says. “Oh, so just the word MEAT would make it more manly?” I ask. “Yes.”
Vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based meals have an image problem. I get that. Everyone at college knew who the vegetarians were: those pale, wan, people ghosting around campus.
But, times have changed. Have you heard of Rip Esselstyn, the firefighter who eats a plant-based diet? He’s so fit and muscular, he practically busts out of his clothes. There are recipes on the site, or you can buy his cookbook Engine 2 Diet, which promises to lower your cholesterol and burn away pounds. In fact, his diet worked so well for him that after his coworkers tried it for a few weeks, then they all switched to eating plant-based meals. He just finished a second book called My Beef with Meat.
And, here I thought people didn’t care about the environment* when all along it’s been a veggie image problem – who’d thunk? There is even an ad agency trying to make broccoli look cool by picking a fight with kale (Good luck with that! They’d be better off following Rip’s example.).
So, what are we having for dinner? MEATless chili.
* United Nations Environment Program details global meat production, consumption, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (which include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O)). Scientists agree that in order to keep GHG emissions to 2000 levels the projected 9 billion inhabitants of the world (in 2050) need to each consume no more than 70-90 grams of meat per day. The USA currently leads consumption with over 322 grams of meat per person per day (120 kg per year).