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I first met my friend Travis Parker in a communications law class at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).

meatless monday hero

Here he is eating. Hi, Travis!

He and I were both advertising majors, and over the years we’ve kept in touch through Facebook as we’ve moved to different cities, changed jobs, etc.

Then on Halloween last year, I got a Facebook message from Travis that blew me away.

He wrote:

Screenshot 2014-03-11 13.25.01Message he wrote to his partner:

I have never gone veg in my life and I LOVE meat. I grew up not thinking about things like this [the abuse in the Walmart pig video] because I didn’t want to…

Now, I read more about things like this and I am having a harder time hiding from it. I believe in the circle of life and the food chain, etc., but not in the kind of torture that comes from the demands of our large population.

I forget things like “Meatless Monday” and I need your help to remember to ensure my Mondays are meatless. After some success with it I’d like to add another meatless day to the week and so on until we reach a point we are both comfortable with in our diets and our minds. Can you help me remember this?

I was so touched that he let me know my passion affected him.

I was encouraged that he was brave enough to actually do something about the injustice he saw in animal agriculture.

And I was impressed that he intuitively recruited a Super Veg Support Hero, who is a person who supports you in your veg journey, by reaching out to his partner.

meatless monday travisSince then, Travis has been participating in Meatless Monday, an international campaign that encourages people around the world to cut out meat on Mondays.

That might not seem like much, but going meatless even one day a week can reduce our risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

It can also help reduce our carbon footprint, save valuable resources like water, and of course it helps the animals we’re not eating!

And in participating in Meatless Monday, Travis is in good company:

meatless monday super hero

Just a few celebrity movers and shakers who participate in Meatless Monday…

Travis’ meatless meal photos always make me hungry, and it’s exciting to see someone so successfully integrate Meatless Monday into their routine.

Let’s hear about Travis’ Meatless Monday experience!

Q&A with Meatless Monday Super Hero, Travis

Where are you from? Where do you live?

I’m a bit of a nomad. Born in Jesup, GA. Raised in Huntsville, AL. Lived in Denver, Nashville, and for a short time before starting school in Tuscaloosa, I studied for 5 months in Australia. Now I’m in Montgomery.

What do you do professionally?

I’m currently the marketing coordinator at a non-profit hospital in Montgomery. I fell into healthcare marketing after school and enjoy the aspect of being an advertiser who is also doing some good. LOGO_FC_CMYK_Red

But I’m a geek at heart. I’ve been immersed in comic culture since I was 10. I also have an affinity for eye-rolling humor.

Last year those two passions combined and I launched Hey, That’s Super!, an Etsy-based vintage-soft t-shirt shop featuring my own unique designs and comic hero puns. I’m hoping to make that full time one day, and instead of healthcare, I’ll make the world better through laughter.

A Hey, That's Super! t--shirt featuring a cutie pie Woolverine!

A Hey, That’s Super! t–shirt featuring a cutie pie Woolverine! I love it when the wool stays on the sheep.

MM Dinner at Travis': Broccolini sauteed with margarine, onion, garlic, salt and lemon juice, with yellow rice and tomatoes!

MM Dinner at Travis’: Broccolini sauteed with margarine, onion, garlic, salt and lemon juice, with yellow rice and tomatoes!

Your shirts certainly add laughter to my day! Besides comics, what are your hobbies?

I love to cook and try to make at least one new thing a week.

Is eating a hobby?

Totally. Do you have any companion animals?

I have a rescued Boston Terrier named Molly and a cat named Francis.

Yay! Rescues are the best! So, what was it particularly that compelled you to participate in Meatless Mondays?

Some of your Facebook posts contained articles and videos about animal abuse on farms and I just couldn’t take it. I’d read the articles but couldn’t watch the videos (I tried but at the first squeal I had to stop).

I’ve always been someone who was able to separate the act of eating meat from the process by which it appeared on my table…mostly by not thinking about it. Your posts forced me to think about it, and I just couldn’t turn away from the animal cruelty (from actual physical torture to the abuse of not even being able to move in a cage).

I knew I had to do SOMETHING, so I gave Meatless Mondays a try.

My partner and I figure that our doing just Meatless Monday prevents us from eating over 100lbs of meat every year (so no one can say it doesn’t make a difference!).

As I’ve gone on longer and found that I enjoy a lot of the new things I’m eating, the meatless meals are spreading. I have to admit that it’s not because I’m making a conscious choice to eat meatless on other days of the week…it’s just that I really like those MorningStar buffalo patties so I will eat them multiple times for lunch in a week.

So added up I’m sure there’s an additional day or day and a half of no meat all because of the ripple effect of discovering new foods on Meatless Mondays.

That is so great! What has been your favorite part of participating in Meatless Mondays?

Honestly it’s the challenge. I really don’t like cooked vegetables when they get too soft…and I despise the texture of tomatoes and mushrooms at all times. That can be limiting if you’re trying to eat vegetarian.

I’m finding things I didn’t know existed and trying new recipes. I’m trying to work toward my day having fewer carbohydrates in it though because they’ve spiked on MMs. Pasta, rice and bread can’t always be the answer. That’s a new goal I’ve set for myself.

The makings of Travis' morning smoothie. Beautiful, no?

The makings of Travis’ morning smoothie. Beautiful, no?

And the smoothies themselves!

And the smoothies themselves!

I did the same thing when I first went veg. Way too much pasta! But the more you do it, the more you figure out how to eat well and eventually your meal horizons expand! So, is it hard to remember to be meatless on Mondays?

At first I literally had to leave notes for myself. It just wasn’t something I was thinking of even if I’d prepared for it. Now, I’m thinking about the upcoming Monday on a Friday, so it feels very natural.

Travis' MM Dinner: Homemade bean burrito with red and black beans sauteed with garlic and chili powder then lightly mashed. Served with a salad with ginger dressing, sweet potato fries, and salsa!

Travis’ MM Dinner: Homemade bean burrito with red and black beans sauteed with garlic and chili powder then lightly mashed. Served with a salad with ginger dressing, sweet potato fries, and salsa!

So, you’re very into super heroes as we know from your business. Do you have any Super Veg Support Heroes in your life?

OK, so I had to think about this one. My parents get it, though don’t participate. My partner is of course there with me. A lot of my friends are or have been vegetarians.

But…and I’m totally NOT sucking up here…I think you’re my hero. It’s your posts that inspired me and your show of support that keeps me going. I think you’re the one I don’t want to let down and that I want to report all my successes to. You’ve really inspired me. I mean, I’ve NEVER even considered doing anything like this before. So…yeah. Thank you!

Gee, thank you, Travis! I’m honored to be a Super Veg Support Hero for you! So, what has surprised you the most about adding vegetarian food to your life?

There are far more choices now than the last time I paid attention to anything vegetarian. It blew my mind and made me so happy that MorningStar had buffalo patties! I literally yelled, “WHAT?!” in the store. I couldn’t wait to eat them. I’d had the soy burgers before but didn’t know they had expanded.

meatless monday super hero

Travis’ MM Lunch: MorningStar Buffalo “Chicken” Patty with crinkle cut fries!

I would have to say the other surprise is that not too much has changed. I’m not doing it as part of a health movement and I don’t think I’m doing it enough for health benefits to show…but what I’ve learned from the lack of change is that it’s really just a choice. I have to choose to do this. It’s not going to happen on its own. Most people probably won’t notice. And the changes I’m making to the world are mostly invisible to me. But I have to continue to make this choice because I know it’s right and more importantly, it’s something I want to do. I don’t need an award or to see the effects. I just need to know I’m doing it.

I think you’re absolutely right; we all can do something to improve the world for others, even if it doesn’t affect our world in some huge way. What advice would you give to people who are thinking about starting Meatless Mondays?

I have 3 pieces of advice:

1. Start out finding what you like. If you have to eat soy “chicken” nuggets or pasta with tomato sauce and other “guilt foods” then do it. Eventually you’ll naturally start seeking out alternatives and asking yourself, “what new can I try?”

2. Try it Thai! There is so much flavor in a Thai dish that you don’t notice there’s no meat.

Travis' MM Dinner: Thai Ginger Soup over rice

Travis’ MM Dinner: Thai Ginger Soup over rice

3. Tell your friends and coworkers. They need to know you aren’t going to eat the same as you were and that you need them to be conscious of that. It’s only for one day a week. They’ll live. But more importantly, they’ll help you by not pressuring you to eat meat on Mondays.

Great advice. Once you’ve mastered MM, do you think you’ll add other days of the week?

As of right now there’s no official declaration to create another meatless day in the week. But like I said earlier, it’s just kind of happening.

The process of discovering new foods that I enjoy and then eating those foods any day of the week is making other days of the week meat-free without even trying. I think once my culinary abilities expand more in the meat-free department, another official day will be easy to add.

I now also find that if there’s a vegetarian option available, why not just get it all the time, no matter the day? If I like it, I get it. For instance, I found a vegetarian egg roll that I love. I used to always get the ones with shrimp or pork but there’s no reason to now. I love the veggie one so I stick with it and have a cleaner conscience every day of the week.

That is so awesome! Are you having fun trying out new recipes at home?

Oh yes. We’ve never made fried rice before but it’s become kind of a Monday night staple. I think the Thai one we just made was the grand finale though. The weather is getting warmer and that puts me in the mood to roast some vegetables!

A MM meal by Travis. Now that is what I call roast some vegetables!

A MM meal by Travis. Now that is what I call roast some vegetables!

What’s the best MM meal you’ve made at home?

Pineapple Fried Jasmine Rice:

One of Travis' MM Dinners: Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

One of Travis’ MM Dinners: Thai Pineapple Fried Jasmine Rice. Isn’t it gorgeous!?

Recipe adapted from Easy Thai Cooking by Robert Danhi

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or garlic paste
  • 4 cups cooked or leftover Jasmine rice
  • 2 tbsp chili paste (make your own or buy it)
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea or kosher salt
  • 1 cup diced canned or fresh pineapple (drained)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • ½ cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes cut into wedges

1. Heat 1 tbsp on vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok and stir-fry the onion, ginger, and garlic for 30 seconds—until the onions become translucent and the garlic begins to brown.

2. Stir in rice, chili paste, pepper and salt. (I like to use extra chili paste for more flavor). Mix to coat the rice with all the ingredients then stop stirring and let it cook for 15-second increments to get some brown bits. Do this for about 5 minutes until the rice is nicely browned.

3. Add the pineapple and cook for about 1 minute to heat the pineapple. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

4. Transfer to serving dishes and top with the chopped cashews. Serve with lime wedges (the lime REALLY brings out ALL the flavors!)

This sounds SO good! I’ll have to try it soon! I remember when you posted this pic on Facebook, you commented “This Meatless Monday thing has really expanded my palate.”

I had the same experience; going veg expanded my palate too!

Thank you, Travis, for sharing your Meatless Monday super powers with us! Keep up the awesome work. The animals, the planet, and I couldn’t be prouder!

—–

See how easy and fun trying Meatless Monday can be? Give it a go for yourself and let me know how you like it!

Want to skip right to veg or vegan? I’m here for you!

To Travis the Meatless Monday Super Hero!

Sarah

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