The Kitchen Table – How to Eat Meat

For Jamie’s birthday we went down the road to one of our favorite Vermont restaurants – The Kitchen Table Bistro.  It’s located in an old house right off of the Richmond exit of route 89.  They’re part of the Vermont Fresh Network, and are dedicated to supporting local farmers and serving regional and seasonal food.  It’s always hearty and we leave happy, ready to come back.

Jamie and I shared a bottle of wine, a salad, and appetizer, entree and dessert – we love to share one of everything, and taste a lot.  We went for the special that night – Rabbit Shepard’s Pie.  The head cook and co-owner, Steve Atkins, was kind enough to share his recipe:

The Kitchen Table Bistro Autumn Rabbit Shepard’s Pie

Braised and picked rabbit leg

roasted Brussels sprouts

butternut squash

pie pumpkin

baby carrots

cippolini onions

thyme and marjoram

Topped with mashed potatoes

– then finished with a drizzle of herb salsa verde (parsley, chive, caper, lemon, olive oil).

The veggies were all from local farms – Half Pint Farm, Conant’s Riverside farm (just across the river from the restaurant) and Mazza’s Farmstand.  The rabbit comes from the Vermont Rabbitry, run by Phil Brown, and is based out of Glover, Vermont.

Sorry, little friend.

The above was my buddy while I was studying at the Kripalu Center this past September.

I have a few different views on eating meat, and I am trying to find a balance between them. Usually, meat can correctly be called the ‘least-sustainable food.’  Most meat products are, first-off, shipped long distances. The animals are pumped full of (expensive) hormones and antibiotics, fed unnatural or even dangerous feed (including sometimes slaughter-house bi-products) and live and die in physically and emotionally traumatic environments.  I have successfully removed this sort of meat from my diet over the past two years or so.

I grew up on a family farm in Maine. We raised our own chickens and pigs every other year – giving us enough meat to last through the winters. We also had our own laying hens, and of course a large veggie garden.  My family did not hunt, though.

From this experience, I believe in eating what you can raise, grow or cultivate with your own hands and land.  It’s an important part of real awareness of knowing where your food comes from.  Right now, I feel more comfortable going to the local farm and buying a pound of ground beef than buying packaged coconut water.  It will flip flop if I’m in Costa Rica – get the idea?

I get psyched about local/organic meat options – as you can see from my turkey post.  It’s so easy in Vermont – and there are so many farms nearby that sell wonderful choices. Yes, it’s more expensive, but I do not eat meat because it is cheap. I do not eat it very often, maybe one or two meals per week.

While at the Kripalu Center, I followed a vegetarian diet, throwing in a bit of cheese and a few eggs over the 2 weeks I was there. It was such nourishing food, brought in from local sources.  I was also able to eat as much as I wanted/needed to, that I was getting enough calories and nutrients to be able to avoid meat. Also, being in such a sattvic atmosphere, I did not want to eat meat. I was feeling that I would be in better harmony with the place, with the world there if I did not.

One part of being an awarenivore, for me, is not to be too rigid. Some may see this as lack of dedication, but I see it as not abusing the luxury I have, the luxury to make a choice about what I put in my body (which not everyone has!)

I believe that human beings can survive without eating meat, or other animal products.  To do so healthily requires a large amount of attention and knowledge, just as any “diet” should.  Another discussion had at Kripalu was the view of “meat as medicine.” Dr. John Douillard shared with us an experience his (vegetarian) son had – he had not watched his protein intake most of his life, and when he had continuous sports injuries, the only thing that would bring his protein level up (after months of trying anything else) was to take/eat a small portion of red meat every day for two weeks – like a prescription. His protein levels raised, and his long term injury was healed. (Short version of the story.)

What are your thoughts? I have only had rabbit twice in my life, and this was just what I wanted for a cool, Fall eve.

5 responses to “The Kitchen Table – How to Eat Meat

  1. I have much the same thoughts as you, although I don’t believe for myself, that I can lead as healthy a life without meat, as I can with. This is speaking from 10 years as a vegetarian, one of which I was vegan. That said, store bought meat did not seem to give me energy, in fact it made me tired, which is why I stopped eating it. But when I started eating organic, or humanely raised and especially grassfed/ pastured meats, I noticed it gave me a lot of energy and my health was improved in many ways.

    • Thanks for the perspective, Jenn!

      I have never gone full vegetarian for more than three months at a time – I think it would be incredibly hard to find a fulfilling diet that way. I do agree that everyone has their own personal nutritional needs, and mine include a bit of meat protein as well!

  2. Great post, and thanks so much for sharing the recipe! I was lucky enough to dine at the Kitchen Table Bistro a couple of months ago, and the meal was fantastic.

    Living in Chicago, I don’t have much room to raise my own sources of protein. However, given the differences in taste, nutrition, and ethics, I’m becoming increasingly committed to eating meat only when I know its source. That’s something everyone can do. Like you said, it’s not cheap, but awareness is free.

    Also, rabbit is delicious. Eat more rabbit. Especially in a terrine.

  3. Thanks for this post! I own and operate Half Pint Farm with my husband here in Burlington, VT, and were pleased to see you post about dining at The Kitchen Table Bistro! They are one of our most favorite accounts, because Steve is so committed to our relationship and sourcing products that he uses as locally as possible. We have such a great relationship with the folks at KTB, that we will often grow crops that Steve would like to see come from a more local source, like salsify, sweet potatoes or okra, for example. I, too, was a vegetarian for 10 years, but once I moved to Vermont to farm, and started meeting meat producers, my previously held notions about eating meat were necessarily altered. I started feeling that I felt so much better about eating meat that had been raised humanely by someone that I knew. It is an entirely different relationship with your food, and can definitely shift your views when you see how well an animal has lived. Thanks for the great post, and for using one of our great farmstand pictures – the classic look of our farmstand in early July. Be well!

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