Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Conscious Shopper Challenge: Eat Less Meat

The next few weeks of the Conscious Shopper Challenge will focus on greening our groceries. Here's the next challenge:

EAT LESS MEAT

Two years ago, I read a paragraph in a book that gave me pause:

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which made exhaustive studies of consumers' environmental impacts, the things that make the biggest difference to planetary health are transportation, housing, and meat-eating.

Really? Meat-eating?

Really. Meat production is incredibly destructive to the environment from water pollution, deforestation, fossil fuel consumption, and even greenhouse gas (that's right, I'm talking about cow farts).

And then, of course, there's the ethical consideration that animals are being raised in unhealthy and inhumane conditions. When you think of a farm, you probably conjure up a pictorial grassy field dotted with cows and a red barn on the horizon with a rooster crowing his morning song. That's where meat comes from, right? Um, no. Not even close.

And there are the health considerations: Besides the fact that a vegetarian diet is a heart-healthy diet, CAFOs are breeding grounds for disease, which results in the use of huge amounts of antibiotics, creating superbugs and weakening our ability to use antibiotics to cure our own illnesses. CAFOs also commonly use hormones to beef up their beef, so to speak, and those hormones end up right in the food we eat.

And perhaps most importantly if you're a Conscious Shopper, a meat-heavy diet is much more expensive than a vegetarian diet (particularly if you stick to ethically-raised meats).

This month as you Green Your Groceries, challenge yourself to shift from a meat-heavy diet to one with less meat. Here are a few ways you can get started:

BABY STEPS

JOGGING STRIDE

  • Use meat as a seasoning rather than the main focus of the meal. Add meat to pasta, rice, or casseroles rather than serving a whole steak, and if a recipe calls for a pound of meat, try cutting it in half and/or replacing some of the meat with beans or tofu.
  • Become a flexitarian. If you can't give up meat completely, become a flexible vegetarian. Maybe this means being a weekday vegetarian - one who chooses vegetarian meals during the week but eats meat on the weekend. Or maybe it means that you eat vegetarian when you cook for yourself but eat meat when you're at a restaurant or with friends. In my case, it means I only eat meat if I've bought it from a farmer that I know has raised the meat ethically.

MARATHON RUNNER

  • Go vegetarian.
  • Go vegan.

If you'd like more information about eating less meat, here are a couple of old posts that I wrote on the subject.

Be sure to check out the archives of our Meatless Mondays challenge, and if you're still making your Mondays meatless, you can keep sharing your meals over at EnviRambo's personal blog Midnight Maniac.

Have you tried eating less meat?

4 comments:

Gnoe said...

Running a marathon again! ;P I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian and decided a few months ago that I need to cut back on eggs and dairy too.

To get of on a good start I'm planning a little 'project' for myself: 7-10 days (depending on whether I'll be eating out and having dinner at a vegan friends house) of eating completely animal-free -- and blogging about it. Yeah well, I liked the Julie & Julia movie ;)

To stay on track in difficult moments I need to be well organised & informed, that's why it's taking some plannig. But I'm looking forward to it as well!

Billie said...

I am not likely to go vegetarian but I think that eating - on average - 1 lb of meat a week is a good compromise.

I still get my meat but it is sufficiently restricted. I generally meal plan one meal a day that uses the meat and another meal that is meat free. So this week for example I had 3/4lb of beef in a stew and green peppers stuffed with kidney beans and rice.

Sense of Home said...

I feel better about eating meat when I know how the animal is raised. So we eat beef raised on my husband's family's farm, I know they are pasture feed and raised naturally. We buy chickens from a friend who raises them organically and in a natural setting, not overfeeding with corn to produce large birds. I buy my eggs from her as well.

We often eat meals without meat and we don't even miss it.

I find it difficult to eat meat when eating out, just thinking about how the animals were raised makes me order vegetarian meals.

-Brenda

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Gnoe - I was vegan for a year right after my husband and I got married. It was rough! Good luck with your project!

@Billie - 1 lb a week sounds great, especially considering what the average American eats.

@Sense of Home - I too try to only eat ethically raised meat, and I'm lucky to live in an area where it's easy to find.

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