It has been a month since my last sustainability swap and all the previous swaps are still in place, including the one in which I stopped eating meat. Sometimes, I will think about eating meat (usually because someone encourages me to eat meat), and then I will get sad and disgusted and find myself incapable of eating meat. It’s a good thing!
Anyway, this post is about cotton swabs, my August swap! I’m sure by now everyone has seen this photo of a seahorse on a plastic swab. I admit I do still use them for an assortment of things, including the big one you’re not really supposed to do (namely, putting them in my ear). However, that is a habit I’m not really looking to break, so I just need a more environmentally friendly way to possibly damage my eardrum.
I found these sturdy bamboo and cotton sticks that come in recyclable cardboard packaging. Another thing I’ve grown to really enjoy is not having to buy the big-name brands anymore. And yes, I know the alternatives were always out there, but now that I’m aware of them, it’s easy to steer clear of all the more well-known companies.
I may have mentioned, probably more than once, how I hate the look and feel of plastic. Something that reminds me of this every day, twice a day, is my toothbrush. I’ve wanted to replace my plastic toothbrush for a few months, but a had a new one and I didn’t want to be wasteful by just throwing it away, so I decided to wait.
But last week, we went away to a near-camping situation, and I had been using the same toothbrush for a few months, so I decided it was time to “treat” myself to a new one on my return. There are many different bamboo toothbrushes to choose from. I went with a brand with very positive reviews and cardboard packaging, but may still shop around when the time comes to pick a new one.
After using this brush for a little more than a week, I have to say I really like it! Some people don’t like bamboo toothbrushes because they don’t like the way they feel in their mouth. But I’ve found I like it a lot more than plastic!
As I wrote sometime last month, I would like to keep up with the sustainability swaps, and do about one a month. It turned out I did something different than I was thinking about, as I ran out of coffee. Since this post is about coffee, I have to admit something: I have a Keurig.
I bought it a few years ago, after breaking every glass coffee pot I tried to make it work with. I don’t know why I have this problem, but I will also say that I am the only person in the house who drinks coffee from home on a regular basis, so most of the time, if I made a pot, it would go to waste anyway.
Now, of course, I wish I didn’t buy a Keurig. I was weak and annoyed at spending so much money buying single cups of coffee from various shops. But I feel terrible about all the plastic K-cups that go into the landfill. And I did try the kind of K-cup that allow you to peel off plastic part, and then that portion goes into the recycling, but it wasn’t great.
So after some searching, I found this company: Tayst. The beans are sustainably sourced and the pods themselves are 100% compostable!
The only downside to this plan is that I do not yet have a compost area, as when I bought my house, the backyard was paved. I do have a small front yard, and since coffee is good for plants, and I only drink about three cups of coffee a week at home (most is at work), I am wondering if I can’t literally just bury these little suckers and let them feed the tree that lives there? I plan to try this and see how long it takes them to break down. A possibly fun experiment?
Today is the last day of May, thus the last day of Meat-Free May! All of my meals in May have been vegetarian, save one fish meal, which I ate because my favorite fish restaurant is closing and I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to go in June before it does. I realize that I don’t miss meat at all, and if possible, I think I might like myself a little better as a vegetarian.
So, with that, I’ve been thinking about extending this meat-free month into June, July, and maybe beyond. For now, I’ll see how June goes. I have the intention of eating mostly vegetarian. However, I do want to clean out my freezer, and I know I have some chicken in there that I didn’t want to eat in May, so I will probably eat that in June. I am also traveling a lot in June and the beginning of July, so it will be more challenging than if I were to just be staying in vegetarian-friendly NYC. Either way, I’ll report back at the end of June.
This week, I didn’t eat out that much. The one place we did go to was an Ethiopian place in the Village called Meskerem. I had the vegetarian combo, which is a little of everything. I wish I could name all the items on the plate. I know the upper left was cabbage, and next to that is green beans and carrots. Everything else was sort of pasty and maybe either lentil or chick peas or both. And the injera bread it’s all served on is a perfect utensil as well.
We also ate a lot at home. As I said, I’ve been trying to finish food that’s in my freezer. I do this about every three months and I think it’s a good practice to avoid food waste. We ate a lentil stew that I made about four months ago. It was really good, and I wish I had a recipe, but it was mostly just red lentils, kale, carrots, garlic, and garam masala cooked in vegetable broth. I’ve also been cooking more in general. In fact, I followed an actual recipe! That recipe was tofu and mushroom stroganoff.
It seems complicated, probably because of the soaking of cashews. But don’t let that put you off–they practically soak themselves! Some changes I made to the recipe were substituting elbows for fusilli pasta (I don’t know why I hate fusilli, but I do). I left out the wine because I had already drunk all the available wine. And I didn’t add the parsley garnish. It was yummy, and my kids didn’t realize it wasn’t real cheese in the sauce.
Week 4 of Meat-Free May included a lot of eating out, and, to come clean, one of those times I ate fish. I found out my favorite fish restaurant was closing, and I was planning to go there for my birthday in June. So I went this week. I feel like I failed in that I ate fish, be succeeded in that I didn’t let in get me into a spiral of continuing to eat meat.
One day, I forgot to bring my lunch to work, and was depressed at the thought of eating in my office cafeteria, so I wandered out to MTHR Vegan. I originally wanted a sandwich, but changed my mind and got this BBQ tempeh bowl. Fortunately/unfortunately the restaurant is only a few blocks from where I work, so I’ll be back.
We also went back to the Queens Night Market, and managed to eat only vegetarian things, and none of the things we ate the last time. We had a guava and cheese empanada, spicy fried masala noodles, samosas, mozzarella arepa, radish puffs, and some fried cinnamon cake.
And it is/was Memorial Day weekend, so we had BBQ! I marinated some eggplant in olive oil, tahini sauce, garlic, and lemon juice, and had it on fresh Italian bread with some kale and a cashew cream sauce (that I made for something else, but didn’t have time to make yet, so I’ll make it tomorrow). Also, grilled corn, which is always a favorite!
We are into the third week of Meat-Free May! I am still feeling good and have not eaten meat nor wanted to eat meat. I do have a few health updates that may or may not be related. Because I was at the doctor’s this morning for my annual, I know I lost two pounds. Also my blood pressure, which has never been a concern of mine, was 118/75, so now it is even less of a concern (previously had been 120/80). At some point this week, I remembered that in the past when I was vegetarian or vegan for years-long stretches, I became deficient in vitamin B12, so I did start taking that as a precaution.
This week I ate out a lot, but forgot to take photos every single time! We went hiking, biking, went to a show at my son’s school, and I went to a concert and spent a lot of time hanging out with horses. One night I ate Chinese food out at a fancy place. We had an assortment of things, but my favorite was Shao Kao Fu, which is seitan with mushrooms and peanuts. I also ate Thai food out with my family, and had Massaman Curry with tofu and vegetables. And finally I had Italian food out with my family, and I had eggplant rollatini.
I’m trying to remember what I ate this week at home and mostly failing. There were a ton of my favorite salad: kale, avocado, cucumber, tahini, and hemp seeds. I made orange seitan with broccoli for the family one day. And I finally got to try jackfruit, which I’ve been curious about for some time. It came four cakes to a pack, so I made them all, and ate two on successive days for lunch. I liked the jackfruit, even though I’ve not into crabcakes that much. I would definitely be interested to try jackfruit in a different format!
The second week in Meat-Free May went well in that I continued to not eat meat, continued to not crave meat, and continued to feel well!
We actually ate out a bit more than usual, the highlight of which for me was ramen! I love ramen and was concerned our local joint did have a section for “vegetable ramen,” but it did not specify that the ramen was vegetarian. I know their regular ramen is made from animal bones, so I asked the waitress, and was informed that my favorite, the miso ramen, is vegetarian!
The two other times we ate out were at vegan restaurants, so we were able to pick from the menu without asking/worrying. While I love this about eating at vegan places, I think it’s also important to eat at omnivore restaurants as a vegetarian, so they will know that yes, people like vegetables!
For meals at home, we had pasta one night, pizzas another night, and one day, something that I previously thought was really hard to make–falafel. I baked it rather that fried it, mostly because that amount of frying seemed like it would be more danger than I wanted to deal with! Thus, it was a little dryer (and I’m sure way healthier) than I’m used to. Also, this mix was a bit spicier than I usually expect falafel to be. Nonetheless, thumbs up! I ate this with kale salad for lunch the remainder of days of the week.
For dinner, we had the falafel balls with pita, kale, cucumbers, avocado, and TJ’s tahini sauce. The kids ate their falafel with…cheese and ketchup. At least they ate it!