This is my approach to eating less meat and making my diet more healthy.
I’m not a bunny- or tree-hugger. I don’t belong to PETA. I’m not a vegan. I have hunted, cleaned, cooked and eaten small game and I’ll do it again. But I am reducing my meat consumption and eating lower on the food chain for reasons given below.
But first: there is no good word for folks who eat less meat. There’s: weekday vegetarian, lessatarian, flexitarian, meatless Monday-er, etc. I think mindful omnivore is closest to my approach but it’s not super catchy.
Rule of thumb: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Michael Pollan)
Eat lower on the food chain to ease the ecological burden on the earth. Eating lower on the food chain is easier on the planet in terms of water and fossil fuel usage. There may also be carbon benefits, if you care about such things. Ask your 8th grader about the energy pyramid and the rule of tens in trophic levels:
“the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.” Nice. (NYT)
Some numbers to help solidify your thinking. It takes about 15 pounds of plant protein to produce each pound of animal protein. Over half of all planted land in the US is used for animal feed. Think about that next time someone brings up domestic hunger or school lunch programs.
Think of meat as a gem on the plate, a delight. Not the bulk of the meal.
Eat lower on the food chain to reduce food costs. Meat is expensive to produce and distribute. It is expensive at the store.
Eat lower on the food chain to reduce governmental interference in the commodities markets. Beef producers lobby to keep corn prices subsidized so they can stuff the gullets of cows with said corn.
Eat lower on the food chain to reduce obesity with its follow-on effects of diabetes, early puberty, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc.
Eat lower on the food chain to sharpen traditional skills like cooking from scratch. This will be important if America’s creaking infrastructure or teetering financial house of cards comes crashing down.
Eat lower on the food chain to reduce intake of crap like high fructose corn syrup.
Eat foods when they are in season. We have become divorced from most natural cycles. Plasticky, flavorless tomatoes are not normal.
Support enlightened food producers, directly if possible.
Sidestep loony left-wing drivel. I do not believe meat is murder. I do not believe animals are human. I believe humans, having attained the top of the food chain, have a right to farm and eat pretty much anything else. I also believe our humanity requires us to do so humanely and consciously. If you are offended by this item, see my Preparedness page where I also say to sidestep loony right-wing drivel. 🙂
When eating meat, support ranchers who treat animals better: free range chickens, grass fed beef, etc. The organic thing is not an intrinsically big deal to me, but the humane treatment of ranched animals is. Our chickens live happy lives in our back yard; I prefer those eggs because I know the birds are treated well. The eggs taste the same and cost more, but it’s worth it.
Withdraw support from factory farmers who treat animals like raw materials to be exploited: overcrowding, feeding unhealthy foods that necessitate antibiotics, hormones, etc.
And a strange bedfellow:
“Absolute purists should be living in a cave,” says Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “Anybody who witnesses the suffering of animals and has a glimmer of hope of reducing that suffering can’t take the position that it’s all or nothing. We have to be pragmatic. Screw the principle.” (time)
[to be continued]