Lightening up on the Meat
My husband and I both spent about seven years living on a vegetarian diet when we were younger. I had not studied much about animal husbandry back then, and I imagine that I had probably made the decision based on peer pressure and shock-films. The vegetarianism went out the window for both my husband and I when I first became pregnant with my twins. As a woman in my mid-thirties who is now educated in animal husbandry, and somewhat knowledgeable about the food industry, I understand that there is no way to completely protest the consumption of animal products without being a vegan. If a person consumes eggs or drinks milk, they are still contributing to the disposal of the unnecessary male animal in the equation. I really do love food. I love meat and I adore cheese, and with my limited diet because of my gluten intolerance…I definitely don’t see myself perusing a vegan diet anytime soon.
I do also want to mention that those films that shock people away from the consumption of meat truly disgust me, and not only because they are a blatant manipulation of susceptible minds. I know that the “valiant” young filmmakers spend months upon months looking for the perfect animal torture-scenario-farm, which I am sure they do nothing to put a stop to while they are getting the perfect footage for their film. These deplorable places are not in any way a responsible representation of what goes on in the food industry, they do exist, and they give good farms, which are the majority, a terrible name. I come from farming families on both sides, and I can guarantee that they would be far more disgusted by these films than any young impressionable girl ever would. They would continue to eat meat though. I think that the animal protection groups that promote these “films” are doing a horribly irresponsible job. Maybe it is their structure, or lack thereof, but when these groups could actually be doing some good in the world, they are busy demanding that whales be released from SeaWorld…whales that have been born in captivity…come on…really? The peanut butter campaign was fantastic. The idea that people replace meat with some other protein for one meal a day was brilliant. What a huge impact it could have made, but they just didn’t follow through.
All of this being said; everyone should be making an effort to consume less meat. I will try to quickly list a few of the numerous reasons for this…the first being that it would have a huge effect on the environment. Cattle production in our country consumes more water than most industries and creates more pollution that almost anything else. Mainstream supermarket meats contain all sorts of things that we really don’t want in our bodies. From antibiotics, to hormones, to the GMO’s that the livestock consumes, there is a lot of junk in our meat. Due to the overwhelming amount of hoops that farmers have to jump through to get their farms certified as organic, or free range, or grass-fed, their products are unrealistically expensive for most families to buy. Less consumption of meats and animal products would actually decrease the demand for these products and put the inferior businesses out of business. Eating less meat is a truly valid cause.
At our house, we do pretty well. When I prepare meals for us, I think that my trick is simply using less meat in each dish. When I made chili the other day it probably only had a half of a pound of meat in it…even though my recipe called for a full pound. That chili fed my family of five for two meals because all of the beans and veg that were in it. It breaks down to an extremely tiny amount of meat per meal. So my goal is to keep adding lower meat recipes as well as vegetarian ones to my blog. Just by looking at meat differently; viewing it as a delicacy rather than a necessity, and yes, giving thanks for the animal that sacrificed it’s life for the meal, we are compelled to eat it less, and to enjoy it more. I am going to list a few sources for information that I trust below; I do not trust animal defense organization’s websites as a source of information, as they are often highly inaccurate.
For info. from Wikipedia on beef production:
This is a well-written article on the ecological effects of animal production:
Here is a Mayo Clinic article on the benefits of eating less meat:
And, a NY Times article on meat consumption: