Big stuff happened to me 23 years ago. I stopped eating meat. Took 2 years but I did it. Truthfully, I woke up and after that, couldn’t lie anymore. Diet for a New America by John Robbins significantly shifted my awareness past my own desires and sent me spiraling into the world-wide-web – and no, not www.ThisThatorTheOther.com but into the bigger space of our environment. I was affecting its demise in a way that I realized I could control.
Giving up meat, I found simplicity and ease in food. Shopping and cooking became less challenging. Made a compost pile for organic gardening that was mulched with 12 inches of hay to reduce watering need. Canned and froze my own produce. Bought bulk organic foods from a co-op supporting local farmers. Recycled in a city with no recycling program. People thought I was really weird, sort of like “I was crunchy granola when crunchy granola wasn’t cool.”
Now, Super Veg Transformer hero I’m not. I have no aspirations of changing your or anyone’s internal processing center to be vegan or vegetarian. I’m quietly nudging you gently to consider investing in the health of eating more plants and less cow. Or chicken. Or turkey. Or pig.
Hard facts worked for me. Here are a few.
In the U.S., we produce:
100 million hogs
35 million head of cattle
a little more than 8 billion chickens
To do that, we use:
7 pounds of grain and 840 gallons of water for one pound of beef
6.5 pounds of grain for a pound of pork
2.6 pounds of grain for one pound of poultry
This excessive amount of meat (67% of our dietary protein comes from animals as compared to 30% worldwide) for consumption by men who already daily overeat protein by 70% and women by 25% is insanely reducing our resources. Water tables are drastically drained and not refilled. Greenhouse gases affecting our ozone layer are greater from animal food sources than veg. Animal waste, once fertilizer for farms growing multiple commodities pollutes our water, soil and air to the tune of one ton animal solids for every single person. We export and ship fewer foods further miles as our farms have shifted from multiple offerings to just corn, soy or cattle creating a deeper carbon footprint.
Gently nudged? Pick one of the following, master it, then add another.
- One day a week, omit the meat. Focus on cereals, grains, legumes (beans and peas), veg/bean soups, veggies and fruit. (Bonus: This reduces your saturated fat intake by 15%!) October is national Vegetarian month.
- A second day, omit cheese and whole-milk and yogurt to get even more heart-healthy bang for your no-saturated-fat buck .
- Shop locally – farmer’s markets, CSAs (community-supported agriculture shares). Pre-purchasing next year’s produce enables farmers to produce a richer crop, more for you to enjoy.
- Buy grains like rice, quinoa and oats in bulk and save dough.
- Grow your own – stake out a sunny corner and plant a few tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, and basil for luscious salads.
- Fill your shopping cart with fewer processed foods. Like chips, Rice a Roni, canned veggies (try dried beans instead), frozen entrees and desserts.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Buy a water purifier so you don’t have to buy one-time-use plastic water bottles. Or check your water quality through your city’s water department.
- Drink tap water instead of Vitamin Water, coconut water, fizzy waters.
- Compost. Spread that on your flower beds.
It may seem that one person is not enough to effect change – you are! One more part to the whole leaves fewer parts disconnected. Together, let’s make a difference.
Information from Nutrition Action Newsletter, Oct 2011.