MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Moving now from beverages to food, let's talk turkey. As we all know, it's the starring dish in many a Thanksgiving feast, but not of course, everybody's. Turkey alternatives made from ingredients like soy protein and wheat gluten often abound on the tables of vegetarians and in the case of this next story, vegans. November is World Vegan Month and whether you're completely animal free or more of an omnivore, anyone can celebrate it.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
In fact, the man we're about to meet is vegan and he encourages people of all culinary stripes, not to give up meat so much as to moderate their consumption of it. Emily Friedman joined him for lunch recently and brings us the dish.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
Paul Shapiro is the senior director of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States based on L Street right here in Northwest D.C. But 18 years ago, he was a kid in Bethesda with a very particular idea of what he wanted to eat and what he didn't.
MR. PAUL SHAPIRO
When I first decided that I wanted to become a vegan, my parents were considered. One, I don't think they'd ever heard the word but two, they had some concerns about nutrition. I still remember 18 years ago I went to a supermarket to try to find soy milk and they had no idea what I was talking about, had never heard of it and now my 92 year old grandfather has Silk Soy milk sitting in his refrigerator.
For Paul Shapiro everyday is meatless. We're sitting around a table at Bread and Brew, a café in DuPont Circle and today, for example, he orders a white bean and kale soup.
Thank you so much.
I chomp into my grilled veggie and humus sandwich as Shapiro explains part of his job is trying to get Americans to eat more like how he eats, one day a week. People like Tammy Harlow, who's with us having lunch.
MS. TAMMY HARLOW
We're trying Meatless Mondays. We've been doing for several months now. It's been fairly painless for us. We like the Boca burgers and then I cook a lot of vegetables and it's been a big hit on our household.
Harlow learned about the Meatless Monday idea through her daughter, who's a vegetarian. Studies by the meat industry have shown half of all Americans have heard of Meatless Monday and more than one-fifth of Americans have participated already. Harlow took action after learning what it takes to bring a piece of grilled chicken to the table.
To be honest, I was completely shocked at how these animals are treated.
Up until now, the Humane Society has supported but stayed in the shadow of the Meatless Monday movement. But as the largest organization of its kind in the country, it has access to millions of Americans who care about animals.
Well, most of the work of the Humane Society of the U.S. does, relates to the treatment of dogs, cats and wildlife. But we're concerned about the treatment of all animals, including farm animals. What we're trying to do here is to help people understand that each one of us can make a difference for animals every single time we sit down to eat.
The idea of Meatless Monday began during World War I as a way to conserve resources for the troops. It was re-launched in 2003 by Johns Hopkins University. Shapiro says many people don't want to become a vegan and Meatless Monday is a comfortable stepping stone to cutting back on meat.
It's not all or nothing. We are making choices that have real consequences in the lives of animals.
I still do eat meat but I do think about it a little bit longer before, you know, you just go out to dinner and order grilled chicken. Now, I try to look at other alternatives.
Bread and Brew, where we're eating today, is one of a handful of local restaurants that participate in Meatless Monday and if you're looking for vegetarian food any other day of the week there are dozens of restaurants dedicated to a veggie-based menu. There's even a vegetarian food truck running around. You can find meat-free options at just about every restaurant in town. But, Shapiro admits, resisting flavors you've known and loved your whole life can be a big challenge.
You know, it's hard to break a lifetime of engrained eating habits. But I think the point is just to make some progress. I mean, right now the vast majority of Americans are eating meat everyday of their lives and it doesn't have to be that way.
With skyrocketing obesity rates and heart disease, Shapiro says, the mainstreaming of Meatless Monday couldn’t come at a better time. I'm Emily Friedman.
Have you participated in Meatless Monday? If so, what was your motivation? You can reach us at email@example.com.
And that's "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza, Sabri Ben-Achour, Jonathan Wilson, Emily Friedman and Tara Boyle along with reporter Marc Adams. Jim Asendio is our news director. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Jonna McKone, Lauren Landau, Peter Domingos and Heather Taylor produce "Door To Door." Thanks as always to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.
Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts'' and our "Door To Door" theme, "No Girl," are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see a list of all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org.
And while you're there, you can find us on Twitter, like us on Facebook. You can read transcripts of "Metro Connection" stories and if you're looking to listen to complete shows from our archives, you can click the podcast link up at the top of the page. We'll be away next week for some Thanksgiving feasting, but "Metro Connection" returns on December 2nd and 3rd when we pursue the road not taken.
We'll tour the Washington that never was and hear about buildings and monuments that were purposed but never constructed. And in our new series, "The Location," we'll go from the road to the sky and hear about the Washingtonian who became the first woman in the Capital to fly in an airplane. I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.