November 18th @ Free Times Café

I recently learned of a survey by Dalhousie University that showed that Canadians are eating less meat. A number of articles following up on the survey pointed out that this has led to restaurants changing the fare that they offer their customers. Being the intrepid investigator of social trends that I know you expect me to be, I took on the task of eating at a bunch of restaurants, all in the name of research, to see what this really means.

I had assumed, naïvely as it turns out, that I would see restaurants offering more vegetarian and vegan food options. Some restaurants might have also added more pescetarian choices (and I should point out that when I first heard the word “pescetarian” I did figure out that it had to with fish but I couldn’t figure out whether pescetarians worshipped or ate fish – or perhaps both – anyway if you’re wondering, it is (b) – ate fish).

A sample of tunes from the live show, November 2018.

What I ended up discovering after my tour of Toronto restaurants, to my surprise and confusion, is that rather than emphasizing vegetarian, vegan and pescetarian options, more and more restaurants were touting a “plant-based menu.” Initially I thought “plant based menu” referred to the actual menu that presented the food offerings and as menus are usually printed on paper, and paper comes from trees and trees are just really big plants, I couldn’t see why they were making a big deal out of this – then I realized (eventually) that “plant-based menu” referred to the food that was on offer.

But what does it meant to say something is “plant based”? For example, there is burger chain that touts its plant-based burgers – but aren’t all hamburgers plant based. First of all there is the bun, which comes from bready things which come from plants (you can tell I’m big on botany and biology and stuff that like that). And then there are the toppings which also pretty much all come from plants. And finally there’s the beef. Aha, you say, beef isn’t a plant. And because I’m like a real biology and botany type person I, of course, agree with you – a cow is many things but it is not a plant. However I have learned that it takes a whole lot of plants to make the meat that is at the heart of a hamburger (and why by the way is it called a hamburger if the meat is from a cow or maybe a sheep – one thing we do know is that there is no ham in a hamburger – bacon maybe but no ham).

Exactly how much grain and other plant like materials are needed to produce a pound of beef is something that has generated a huge amount of discussion and debate and there is no end to the many ways to calculate this. Cursory research on the internet (which if you read these missives regularly you know is my second favourite kind of research other than no research at all which is my real favourite) shows that between 10 to 20 pounds of feed is required to produce a pound of hamburger which means a meat burger is, as far as I’m concerned, pretty much a plant-based meal.

Given that the term “plant-based” is now, for better or worse, the trendy term, and given that the purpose of this message is to encourage you go and see Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room, playing at the Free Times Café (College just west of Spadina), on Sunday November 18, let me point out that if you do come to see us you will see Toronto’s first plant-based band. Yes indeed, the 10 members of the Living Room are all plant-based. Some of us are vegetarians, some of us eat meat – but as I thought was very well argued in the previous paragraph, meat-eaters often consume more plants, albeit after a few iterations, than vegetarians. As well as the food we eat, many of the members of the group seem to subsist largely on imbibing fermented plant substances, be it barley, apples, grapes or whatever else. And of course as of last month, the long standing plant-based smoking habits of some of the band members is now even legal.

So, I hope to see you on the 18th. The show starts at 8pm and there will be plant-based songs and lots of plant-based things to eat and drink. And because our money is really no longer plant-based – even the bills – there we won’t be a cover as that would sully the plant-based theme for the evening (although you can pay for your food and drink with plastic). Hope to see you there.


P.S. Another plant based aspect of our group, are of course the instruments we play. Take the bagpipes for example; and I mean it, take the bagpipes and take them far, far away and then bury them in the ground so that after years and years they will disintegrate and become food for, you guessed it – plants.

November 18th Set List:
Set #1: Set #2:
Somme / Draghai
Wagon Wheel
Gringo In Belize
Sisters Of Mercy
Phone Company Rag
So Long Marianne
Silver Wings
One Day I Walk
Right In Time
Stronger Beer
Car Wheels
Have I The Right
Coast Of Carolina
Saskatchewan Sky
Love In The Hot Afternoon
A Prayer
Wheels on Fire
Weird Weather
Bad Weather
Lily Hoskin
Lay Down Sally
Volcanig Jig
Kicker Of Elves
Heart Full Of Soul