Resolutions to Save the World in 2019- Eat Less Meat

by - Sunday, December 30, 2018

Turning the page on a fresh year gives us a brand new opportunity to be a better version of ourselves. That's pretty exciting, and it is the perfect opportunity to start making some eco-friendly changes. It's the kind of thing we all want to do, especially after we have faced truly terrifying Climate Change news and ecological disasters this year. 

Becoming eco-friendly seems like a daunting commitment, but you can actually make a huge POSITIVE impact on the world just by making some easy small changes. If we all resole to make a few SUSTAINABLE changes this year, 2019 could be a turning point for our world. New Year's Resolutions can be all about changing habits, so why not stick with the junk food and make the world better instead?

No one could do all of these things and no single resolution will work for everyone. Climate Change is a big, messy, complex problem; no one solution will be enough. But that also means the things that don't work for you because of cost or culture are never your only option. No one can do everything, but everyone could do something. So let's focus on the positives of what we each CAN do. 

A colorful pile of beets at a farmer's market

Yep, I am going to add to the many voices suggesting you cut way back on meat in 2019. Slate just suggested cutting down on meat is the single most impactful thing we can do for the planet. It's that big of a deal.

Now, you may really hate the idea. But it is worth trying, because a diet with less meat is that much better for your body and for the Earth. Plus, poor cows deserve a chance, right? You don't have to become a vegetarian to make cut back significantly, and even one fewer carnivorous meal a week has a huge positive impact.

Less meat. Let's talk about it. 

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? Forget the 3 minute shower- 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 farm animals can be treated humanely and with dignity, but I know that is nearly never the case with the meat you can get at the grocery store, and you have to know what you are paying (more) for.

Local farms, butchers, and farmers' markets are a way better source for meat if you want the animals to be treated with respect. And even if it is twice as expensive, if you are eating half the meat, it comes out to the same amount. The less meat you buy, the more money you save.

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? You can, and that would be great, but you should choose a commitment that you can realistically continue. Being a vegetarian for one week is not nearly as effective as cutting your meat intake in half for the rest of your life. We all need to curb our diets, and we can make a huge impact on our environment and our waistlines by cutting back in 2019. 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 share Meatless Monday 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

We have learned to love veggies one at a time this year, but I wouldn't have ever seen that coming. 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.

One fun way to do this is to look at what veggies are seasonal where you live, and pick a veggie of the week. So much fun!

Make Beef a Special Occasion, not a Routine

You don't have to give beef up forever to eat 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. Make beef a treat for when you eat out, and don't make it at home. 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 Meat 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? Been a vegetarian for years? It might be time to dive into less dairy. I haven't eaten red meat for years, but I love milk, so this year my goal was to stop drinking it. I did it, and I miss it less than I expected.

Another option is to write your favorite restaurants and ask for more meat-free options or to know where their meat came from. They can't respond to the need for more vegetarian/ vegan food if they don't know people want it. Leave them a note on yelp or their facebook page pushing them to be more transparent or to have better veggie options.

Read up on the farming industry and join groups that are already fighting for better treatment of animals (and all the waste they create). Vegans and environmentalists have been fighting this battle for years, and they need our help to advocate for animals and our planet.

Do you love eating meat but are super concerned about the environment? Commit to being a vegetarian for a year, a month, or a season. Don't make it a lifelong commitment, but just try it with a real end date to see how you feel.

Resolve to Eat Less Meat in 2019 to Help Save the World

Want more ideas for resolutions that will take care of the Earth and make your life better? Check out our whole list of resolutions here

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