The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

So Far, So Good

I renewed and expanded my commitment to eat only humanely-raised meats, eggs and milk about a month ago. It has been difficult, since I don't have a freezer full of meat like I did last year. It was convenient always having that around. I have to be more vigilant and go to specialty stores, and they are expensive. I will soon buy a quarter cow of grass fed, organic beef to cut my costs and load up my freezer.

I eat vegetarian at restaurants, now. This is the one area that I was very lax last year. While my grocery meat purchases were right on the money, I would eat anything if it came from a restaurant. This is the major place I have changed this time around.

A few days after I made my commitment, however, I was hungry late at night and indulged in some Chinese food loaded with no doubt factory-raised chicken. Aside from that one instance, I've kept my commitment rather well.

It can get extreme if I factor in all the eggs, milk and animals fats that are ingredients in just about everything. I try not to worry about all that and focus my attention on the items with large components of animal products.

I picked up a couple of whole chickens at the farmers market. I use them to make soup and usually extract some meat for sandwiches. I also have been eating a lot of fish.

Wild caught fish is a good option, since the animal did not live in confinement and probably suffered little at the end, comparatively speaking. However, the fishing industry as a whole is causing massive turmoil in all of our waters, so it is not a perfect choice. But knowing that none of our food choices is perfect helps me to make the best of it. Even if you eat only vegetables, if they are raised through conventional agricultural methods they are contributing to destruction of ecosystems and global warming when you factor in pesticide usage and erosion. But you can avoid cruelty to animals and have a smaller environmental impact overall by eating vegetarian or properly-raised meats.


I ask for the veggie patties at Subway. They are not on the menu, so you have to ask for them specifically. Most Subways carry them, but not all. They are quite good!

I eat pork and chicken at Chipotle. They are listed as "naturally raised" in Columbus, OH (each restaurant may be different, so you have to check what their menu says). I am under no delusions that this meat would meet all my ethical standards, but I support their efforts to bring better quality meats to the mainstream markets. A chain like Chipotle is large enough to help the industry develop in size and infrastructure, making the work of the next generation of meat vendors easier. Hopefully, we will see meats from animals not raised in confinement and completely organic, but what we have now is a start.

A baked potato and caesar salad at Wendy's isn't a bad lunch, either. I'm a growing boy, so I can often get spacey if I go too long without a substantial meal, so it takes some work to find suitable alternatives to meat. My foray at the Chinese restaurant above was due to not planning and then having a major protein crash. Keeping trail mix conveniently stashed in my car or desk at work helps out in case I get hungry and a substantial meal is too far away.

It has taken some adjustment, as I often eat meat only once a day now, and there are longer gaps between servings. It is best when I can avoid restaurants, especially fast food, but it is unrealistic to think that I can avoid them altogether. The best options in town are the Whole World Bakery & Restaurant, one of the Aladdin's locations or the Northstar Cafe's. The latter serves grass-fed beef and free range turkey as well as great vegetarian meals.


  1. Hmmm... Chipotle is owned by McDonald's so I'm skeptical about their food practices despite what they claim...

  2. Really? Ug! I am bummed to hear of McD's owning Chipotle...
    Kudos to you, Frank! I make a good effort but at times I break down and order those bad chicken strips or some such thing. My kid is a good influence, I don't want him eating that stuff so I make better choices when he's with me at a restaurant.

  3. I see it as a long term thing. I cheated profusely at first, then slowly got better. For a whole year I was eating anything at restaurants and only did a good job when it came to grocery purchases. This year, I'm working on improving that.

  4. I love grass fed beef. I stand strong behind La Cense - Not only is their beef the best tasting - they actively work to promote better eating habits across the world - and educate people about sustainable agriculture and sustainable living. They started this online social community - - and they give away prizes every week for this ad contest they started at FYI. and great article btw.

  5. Nevermind, Chipotle Lovers... I just looked it up online and it appears that McD's ONCE owned a PARTIAL investment in Chipotle, but has since sold their investment. So you can go back to eating Chipotle without any other guilt than the calories... Sorry for the scare!