Consume Less: Meat

Cow and Calf

Photo Credit, Marilyn Peddle

In my previous two posts in the Life Guidelines series, I talked about consuming less water and electricity.  I’d like to think the majority of people understand that we should converse these resources, so I focused more on how to do it rather than in-depth reasons on why we should.Today though, I want to talk about eating less meat (and all animal products).  This is a bit more controversial, so I want to focus on why.There’s no doubt about it–meat is a large part of American culture, and many cultures from around the world for that matter.  So to suggest that we should eat less of it (or none at all) usually comes across as a crazy idea. Some people get really defensive, others declare that you’ll have health problems without the protein you get from meat.  But I’m not here to judge or offend or tell you that you’ve been a horrible person.  I’m simply here to share some information–I’ll leave the decision-making up to you.

5 Reasons to Eat Less Meat

  1. You’ll help the environment.  It takes about 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef, and 5 pounds of grain for 1 pound of chicken.  That’s a lot of water and energy used to produce a lot of grain we could eat ourselves.  But there’s also energy used to harvest the grain, transport the grain to the animal, house the animal, transport the animal to slaughter, run the slaughterhouse, then transport the meat to the grocery store.  Not to mention all the pollution and waste produced along the way that ends up in the soil and the air and our groundwater. Animal food production actually contributes more to greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry.  Sure, plant production may have some of the same environmental impacts (using water, energy, and pollutants like pesticides), but on a much smaller scale.
  2. You’ll be healthier. A lot of people believe you need the protein in meat and the calcium in dairy products to be healthy, however, there is a lot of research to prove otherwise. Dr. Dean Ornish or Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn have found that a plant-based diet is linked to prevention and reversal of heart disease. Even the American Cancer Society recommends a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods to reduce the risk of cancer.  Find and watch a copy of Forks Over Knives for an in-depth look at the health perspective of eating less meat.
  3. You’ll likely lose some weight.  This is connected to the whole “you’ll be healthier” point. Plant foods are less calorie dense than meat products, so you can eat more without consuming more calories, making it easier to naturally lose weight.  Losing excess weight comes with it’s own health benefits, like lower blood pressure and lower risk of developing chronic illnesses and heart disease.
  4. You’ll save money.  Meat products are expensive!  Think about how much a gallon of milk costs, or beef, or frozen chicken.  Dried beans, lentils, and grains are very inexpensive, even more so if you buy in bulk.  Fresh produce is also affordable, especially if you buy in-season, watch for sales, or go to a local farmer’s market in the warmer months.
  5. You won’t contribute to animal-cruelty.  No one wants to face the sad, depressing, gut-wrenching cruelty that animals go through simply so we can eat meat and dairy and eggs.
    Some people will argue that our ancestors ate meat so there’s nothing wrong with it–that it’s something we evolved to do.  I would agree than hundreds of years ago hunting your own meat for your family was a necessary part of survival. Food was scarce and you needed those calories to live.  But today, food can be found on every corner in fast food chains, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, and restaurants.  Now we have choices. We don’t need meat to survive. There’s plenty of plant-based food easily available to sustain a healthy life.  So be compassionate, be emotional, be true to your human nature and spare the needless suffering and death of another living being.
chicks and ducks

Photo Credit, Jim Pennucci

With all those reasons to NOT eat meat, can you think of any compelling reasons to keep doing it? Remember this is not an “all or nothing” situation either.  If you want to help (the environment, the animals, your health, or your wallet), but think it would be a really difficult change for you or your family, take small steps.Start with one day a week where you don’t eat meat.  I post recipes every Monday as ideas and inspiration for meatless meals.  Eventually move to more a days a week without meat, then maybe choose one dairy product to phase out, like milk or yogurt.  It doesn’t have to be all at once, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I’m not perfect either, it’s taken me many many months to move away from eggs and meat and milk.  I tried a lot of different milk alternatives (soy, almond, rice, etc) until I found the one I like.  It’ll take getting used to, but I promise you’ll be better for it.

One step in the right direction is
better than staying where you are.

Interested in getting more information?  Below are some of my favorite resources that remind me why I should continue to eat less meat, and the ways I can do it.Plastic-Free Vegetarian : this particular article has a lot of facts and information and a motivating argument against eating animals

Forks Over Knives : The film is what really inspired me to eat less meat, even after I had watched other documentaries like Food, Inc.  The website has great inspirational stories and recipes.

Engine 2 Diet : Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s son, Rip, created this 28-day diet plan to get you started on going meatless.  The recipes are delicious!

Awesome recipes:

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen

Happy. Healthy. Life.

Oh She Glows

Simple Veganista

Oh, Ladycakes

Happy Herbivore

Photo Credit, bertconcepts

At least one day this week try to go without meat.  It’s easier than you think!  You’ll be kind to the planet and to your own body.

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