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 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:
- Make your Mondays meatless. Visit the Meatless Mondays website for recipes, tips, and inspiring words.
- 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.
- 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.