Eat Less Meat to Save the World in 2018

by - Friday, December 29, 2017

So 2017 has been epically terrible for the environment. If you are paying any attention at all, it can be so easy to feel terrified and helpless. But I am here to tell you, 2018 is the year we can turn this all around. But we need you, and your family, and your friends.

So I am going to throw out some ideas of resolutions you can make this New Year's. These are just suggestions of places to start, but they will make your life happier and the world better all at once. Way better than resolving to eat less cake, right?

Maybe it's the first time you have been thinking about trying to do something about it. Maybe you have been milling since America left the Paris Agreement or the pictures of plastic in our oceans were plastered everywhere.  But you aren't alone, and this is no time to feel hopeless- it's time to get to work.

The problem is HUGE. And we are all a part of it. But that means we have the power to make a difference and that's amazing. It doesn't have to be a huge change or a difficult one to make a HUGE impact. Make some little changes. Tell your friends about it. That's it. So let's get started as we head into 2018.

1. Take it Easy on the Meat.
 Give Cows a Chance.

How It Helps You

When talking resolutions and diets, we mostly think of cutting down on treats or snacks. Meat generally looks "healthy" because we need protein, but if you want to turn around your health, meat might actually be the PERFECT place to moderate. Cutting down on meat can help you lose weight, be more active, and protect you from heart disease, cancer, even impotence (unless you are Ron Swanson, obviously)!

Meat has more and more connections to health issue, so most doctors and organizations suggest cutting back. The American Institute for Cancer Research says you should eat no more than 18 ounces of meat a week. Most other sources I could find said 10-12 ounces. Lots of us eat WAY more than that, though it has been going down.

Want more evidence that eating less meat is better for you? Here, Harvard will tell you all about it.

from npr

How it Helps the Earth

Meat, especially beef and lamb, have absolutely terrible environmental impact, so eating less can really lessen your footprint. Red meats have extremely high CO2 emissions, use tons of fossil fuels and water, and are one of the top contributors to climate change. Top US nutrition panels are advising we all eat less for the environment and for ourselves.

Skipping that burger turns out to be a pretty kickass solution to all sorts of nonsense.
Have a drought? Eat less beef.
Driving way more this month? Offset it by eating less beef.
See a pattern? We all need to eat less beef. Vegetables use less water, less land, and creates less CO2 and waste. There is no downside here.

There are other benefits as well. Meats at supermarkets come wrapped in plastic and styrofoam. Mushrooms and beans? Not so much. Changing your approach can cut down on your waste as well.

Eating less meat means you can eat more ethical meat as well. If you are an animal lover and a meat lover at the same time, you might ask yourself whether the meat you buy actually upholds your respect for animals. I personally believe that animals can be treated humanely and with dignity, but I know that is often not the case, and you have to know what you are paying (more) for.
energy cost of meat production versus vegetables
from Research on Global Markets

So, Let's Make A Change

This week, keep track of how many servings of meat you eat. If it actually feels like more than you need, maybe this is the perfect place to make a resolution. 

Am I telling you to become a vegetarian? Well, you can if you want, but I won't be joining you (been there, but can't pull it off now). We all need to curb our diets, and we can make a huge impact on our environment and our waistlines by cutting back in 2018. Here are some ideas of how-

Meatless Mondays

Have one day a week with absolutely no meat in it. Think of it as a fun challenge, because there are so many great recipes and ideas out there. I'll be sharing recipe roundups with vegetarian options every week to help you out. You could do all vegetarian lunches also- whatever works for you, but just make it part of your routine.

Plan Around Veggies

Yes, we may not be huge veggie fiends, but make the challenge of this year to try to learn to love them. It's as simple as changing how you talk about food. Usually, when someone asks what you are having for dinner, you reply "Chicken with..." why not say "Veggie pasta with chicken?" Less meat and more focus on stuff we relegate to sides can TOTALLY change how we think about food.

Make Beef a Special Occasion, not a Routine

 Don't give it up, but do less. If you eat beef 3 meals a week, cut it down to 1. Say you will only eat 3 beef meals a month if you are a hamburger fiend. You can replace beef with ground turkey in lots of recipes and save money (and your heart, but whatever works for you).

Cut Down Portion Sizes

Make up the difference with vegetables or beans. You will be healthier, and eating 2 fewer ounces a portion will add up over the course of a year. Do a regular cheeseburger, not a double. You don't have to go cold turkey, just always make the smaller choice. We make a whole lasagna with two sausages or stretch 4 chicken breasts over 3 meals. It saves money and the Earth!

Know Where Your Beef Comes From

 Maybe you are thinking of how beef is important for your local economy. Sure that might be true, but is your beef actually coming from there? When you eat at a fast food restaurant, it has traveled. At many grocery stores, it has traveled. Buy less, buy local, and you can put that money to use where you live and get better quality meat.

If You Want to Do More

Already pretty light on meat? It might be time to dive into less dairy. I haven't eaten red meat for years, but I love milk, so I am going to work on cutting back.

Another option is to write your favorite restaurants and ask for more meat-free options or to know where their meat came from. They won't respond to the need for more vegetarian/ vegan food if they don't know people want it.

The theme for this year is to make personal AND systemic changes, so think about where you have power to minimize meat.

If You Want to go BIG

 Cut out some dairy or buy all of your meats local (that can be EXPENSIVE). Cut out meat completely and try living 2018 as a vegetarian. So many options! Fight for more meatless options or days at local cafeterias or restaurants that you are near often.

Animal products are a huge part of the Climate Change equation and a perfect place to start to make changes. It may not be the only change needed, but it is a huge little step that costs you nothing. You can take shorter showers, drive fewer miles, and turn off your lights when you leave a room. These are all great steps to take. But if you cut out half your servings of red meat a month, you will have more impact and do more good.

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  1. Interesting approach, meat-based diet uses four and a half times more land than is necessary for a vegan diet and two and a quarter times more than for a vegetarian diet. Hugs!

  2. I am trying to cut down our red meat consumption. It is easier now that it is so expensive.

  3. Some interesting points you make and food for thought thats for sure !



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