Eat less meat (and dairy)

Americans eat too much meat.  This is a widely known fact.  Only a few nutbags from the high protein diet movement would dispute this fact.  I’m just talking food pyramid wise.  According to the food pyramid, we’re only supposed to be eating 3 servings of protein a day, but most Americans eat closer to ten servings.  This is thanks in part to the outrageously liberal idea most of us have of what constitutes a serving size, and part to the fact that most of us eat meat (or eggs) at every meal.

When I set out to limit the amount of meat I eat, I knew full well that I already ate less meat than the average American.  Of the meat I do eat, more of it is chicken and fish than the average American (not that their environmental impact is any less, but the health impact of those meats is certainly better).  But it wasn’t enough, so I decided to limit my meat consumption to one serving a day.  I did pretty well with this during the work week, but on the weekend (thanks to excessive eating out) all bets were off.  The goal was a work in progress.

The reasons I had for limiting meat were numerous.  First, conventional meat production is, by far, the largest contributor to green house gasses and therefore the biggest cause of global warming.  (On a side note, I hate when people say eating meat causes global warming.  No it does not.  Yes, conventional meat production causes global warming, but the act of eating meat does not.  When the cavemen killed a woolly mammoth and ate it, it did not release green house gasses into the atmosphere.  Sheesh!)  Animals, particularly cows, burp and fart large quantities of methane into the atmosphere, and since the American demand for meat is so ungodly high, there is an ungodly number of farm animals emitting ungodly amounts of methane into the air.  Not to mention the ungodly amount of space used up farming and slaughtering these animals (space that could have global warming reducing plants growing) and the ungodly amount of fuel used to power the ungodly huge facilities where meat is produced. 

Speaking of ungodly, it takes an ungodly amount of food to feed all these cows and chickens and pigs.  All of that food could be going to feed all the starving people in the world, or to bring down the rising costs of grains we are all suffering from now, but instead we are feeding it to cattle, then eating the cattle, and getting less net energy out of less net food.  Brilliant.  And all those crops that feed the meat also use petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, which pollute our soil and water, an require energy to grow, maintain and harvest.

The final reason I wanted to eat less meat is because I’d like to avoid all the growth hormones and antibiotics found in meat.  Really, do you want to ingest something that’s designed to make a cow get fatter?  Do you think that growth hormones aren’t going to make you fatter too?  And we wonder why we have an obesity epidemic in this country.

So basically, meat is responsible on some level for global warming, world starvation, and the obesity epidemic.  Yeah, that sounds like something I’d like to limit in my life.  Of course, all of these issues would be addressed simply by eating only organic meat, but who can afford that?  Have you ever looked at the cost of organic meat?  There’s another fact about meat that is UNGODLY!

Now, after reading Skinny Bitch, which I wrote a review of yesterday, I have been confronted with even more reasons to forgo meat as much as I can.  For starters, I was completely and willfully ignoring the fact that dairy has the same environmental impacts as meat (I buy about half of my dairy organic, but still …).  I got slapped in the face with more health benefits of limiting, or down right eliminating, meat and dairy.  For example, another thing that is designed to fatten up cows is milk.  Seriously.  Calfs drink nothing but cows milk to grow from 90 to 2000 lbs over the course of 2 years.  Do we really want to be consuming a lot of something that is designed by nature to make anything that drinks it grow to 20 times its original size?  And I was horrified to read some of the treatments animals have to suffer in conventional meat production facilities.  I mean, deep down, I always knew it was bad, but being confronted with it really forced me to acknowledge it.  And finally, the issue of how meat is handled in those places (not to mention how the employees are treated, anyone ever read Fast Food Nation?) just disgusted me beyond belief.  Let me just say I will not be feeding my son meat baby food, and I don’t recommend you do either.

So now my goal is to eliminate as much meat and dairy from my diet as I can possibly stand.  This means I’ll pretty much only be eating meat at family and work functions, and even then I’ll do it in very small servings.  Dairy I will probably eat a little more often (because I love it!) but I am experimenting with vegan alternatives to foods I am willing to replace (pretty much everything but cheese and chocolate).  I am now using soy milk on my cereal, a soy based butter spread, soy mayonnaise, and yesterday I snacked on some wheat-free, dairy-free Newman-O’s (organic Oreos knock offs – the texture will take some getting used to, but it helps me keep my portion sizes in mind).  I’m also going to work at incorporating more vegetarian meals into my recipe book.  If anyone has a good vegetarian/vegan recipe, please send it to me, or post it in the comments of this blog.  I’d love to have them.

I will keep everyone posted on my progress becoming an almost-vegan (that’s what I’ve decided to call it).  Maybe one day it will evolve beyond this, but for now I think this is the most anyone is going to get out of me.

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About Rockingthehomestead

Badass feminist environmentalist.
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9 Responses to Eat less meat (and dairy)

  1. Way to go !!! I really agree with you in all those points ! And besides, do you know that milk contains a lot of pus ? (Google “got pus” to see PETA’s awareness campaign)

    I’ve always beena vegetarian, but recently I’ve been trying to cut down on diary, especially milk. I’ve started to like soya mil, soya joghurt, and soya cream.

    And here is a lovely recipe for non-diary raw chocolate drink. Apparently raw chocolate is healthy, unlike the boiled version.
    http://galadarling.com/article/raw-hot-chocolate

  2. Jill says:

    I had to give up dairy to solve a chronic sinus infection so have tried ALL the alternatives. My favorite is almond milk. It’s not as beany as soy and thicker than rice and cooks well in recipes. Cashew and hazelnut milks are also good, but prohibitively expensive. I’ve read it’s easy to make one’s own almond milk, but I’m still buying.

  3. just bev says:

    a quick correction from a farmer who does not raise beef or dairy—you are right that dairy has about the same impact on the earth as meat. However, calves have a complete diet of milk for only one or two months of their two years until fully grown. After that beef calves begin eating grass alongside their mothers until they are on a full grass diet, later moving to a grain and hay diet to be fattened. Dairy calves are on ‘real’ milk for only a couple of days and then on a powdered milk replacer for 6-8 weeks, with grain and hay added gradually until they move from milk to solely grain and hay.

    We are the only species that drinks milk beyond infancy. I still do it, but you are right, it is more efficient to eat the grains and greens myself than to get a cow to do it for me and then buy her milk.

  4. jessimonster says:

    Hey Bev, thanks for the info! I guess that book had some bad info in it. Now I feel a little better about what dairy I do eat, at least its not going to make me 20x my normal size!

  5. Mother Earth says:

    if I may, be very mindful of the benefits of protein for the body . Wherever and however it’s sourced, thank goodness we have choices. We still hugely need it for our body to function. Protein is the building block for every single cellular function of the body.If you think of it that way it’s mind-boggling. In order to grow, heal, fight – our cells need protein. So if you eliminate foods for ” reasons ” be sure to replace them nutritionally and mindfully. Same thing with dairy, the only reason to eat dairy, besides loving the way it tastes – is for calcium intake – yet our nation doesn’t do so well in the calcium category – and as much as I adore greens and broccoli – it’s not going to give me the 1500 mg my body needs every day.

    Nice blog

  6. jessimonster says:

    Too true, you certainly can’t do no protien, and you need to watch calcium intake, which is why I think its a better idea to limit meat and dairy, unless you are the type of person who’s going to really, really increase your vegetable intake. There are lots of plant based sources for protein and calcium, besides just beans and soy for protein and greens and broccoli for calcium, but most people in this country just aren’t that open minded to new “exotic” foods. I’d like to try some new things and put more vegetables in my life (I’m aware I already eat more than the average American, so many, in fact, that a lot of people are under the impression that I’m already a vegetarian!) but honestly, I don’t think I eat enough. Limiting my meat and dairy intake will sort of force me to start eating more veggies, because I’m certainly not going to replace meat and dairy with vegan junk food. I’m still 30 lbs over my pre pregnancy weight, for gods sake!

  7. jayloo says:

    101cookbooks.com has a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes. I’ve yet to try anything from there that I didn’t love.

  8. I just posted a great vegan recipe for blueberry pancakes on my blog … yummy! Also, check out http://www.vegweb.com: they usually have some great ideas. Good luck!

  9. jessimonster says:

    For those of you still reading this post, check out this post too!

    http://verdavivo.wordpress.com/2008/05/22/whats-wrong-with-what-we-eat/#comment-463

    I don’t know how to hyperlink in comments. Sorry. Anyway, its a more concise version of what I write about here.

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