Warning: There will be thoughts on the environment and your health in the following post. You absolutely positively do not have to agree with me on any of these thoughts. I'm just sharing.
There are lots of things that people do to try to save energy and save the environment. Recycling, turning off lights and tvs, only running your dishwasher when it is full, etc.
The most effective thing you can do to have a positive effect (or less negative effect) on our environment is to eat a little less meat. I have mentioned that to a few people over the past few months (in conversation, never preachy, never hey-you-shouldn't-eat-meat). They totally didn't believe me.
I have said it without exactly knowing where I heard it. I couldn't give facts and figures. But I've collected a few and would like to share these facts and figures with you. Mostly because I feel like we all want to help out good-ole mother earth when we can, and most of us are not aware of this minor change to our lives that can make a pretty significant difference to our environment.
Behold some environmental impact bullets:
- 1/5 of man made greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change are generated by the meat industry
- eating 20% less meat (one day a week) would cut greenhouse gas emissions as much as if every American switched to an ultra-efficient hybrid vehicle
- 1/2 of river and stream pollution is a result of meat production methods
- 2500 gallons of water are used to produce 1lb of beef
- 220 gallons of water are used to produce 1lb of soy
- because of the amount of fossil fuel energy needed to produce beef, 12 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved if everyone in the United States spent one day a week without eating meat
- the livestock industry is responsible for the release of two dangerous gases, methane and nitrous oxide. they are considered to be more harmful than CO2 and remain in the atmosphere for up to 114 years
- a third of all cereal crops are used for animal feed, not food for humans
- it is anticipated that the meat industry will double it's production by 2050
I'm sure that there are facts and figures out there that will contradict each fact and figure I just gave you. But those would not have exactly supported my cause, now would they?
My very awesome doctor told me recently that while the Meatless Monday is quite trendy these days, her motto is more like "Only meat on Mondays." Too extreme for me. When I stopped to pay attention to it, I realized that a lot of my meals are meatless.
Think about your meals. How often do you eat a meal that is meatless? On average, Americans eat 45% more meat per day than the USDA recommends. Can you cut out a day of meat? If you already do, can you cut out one more?
Here is one of my very favorite recipes. And it just so happens to be meatless, but I've loved it far longer than I've known that I'm saving the earth by eating it.
Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella
1 box whole wheat penne
28oz can and 15oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
pinch of crushed red pepper
handful of shredded basil
fresh mozzarella MUST BE FRESH. NO BAG OF SHREDDED RUBBERY CHEESE ALLOWED.
Slice garlic and sautee in oil over med high heat until slightly brown (I use a large skillet). Add tomatoes and crushed red pepper (I like mine quite hot, so I might add two pinches). Let simmer for 10 minutes or so, until it reduces and isn't so juicy.
Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water. When cooked, add to tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add cubed mozzarella cheese, a sprinkle of parmesan, and some basil shreds.
This is an inexpensive meal, very filling, very healthy (as long as you don't overdo it on the cheese). I'm not a big fan of tomato sauce, but these diced tomatoes and mozzarella are a perfect match with the sturdy whole wheat pasta.
I would be happy to share my favorite meatless recipes. I plan on serving them more often these days!
My resources include the always-reliable wikipedia and goop