Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Accident

It's not really an accident that I no longer eat meat. Rather, it's a demonstration of my values in practice. I have long known that eating animals has negative health, environmental and world hunger implications. And, it's not good for the animals either. Here's the facts:

For the Planet: 
  • Fresh Water: It takes 100 times more water for animal protein than the same amount of plant-based protein.
  • Energy: Animal-based protein takes 11 times the energy (fossil fuels like coal and oil) than creating plant-based protein.
  • Climate: On a global scale, livestock production creates more greenhouse gases than transportation.
For People:
For the Critters:
I'll admit it's not easy to walk away from foods you've been eating most of your life and the influence of advertising and lobbying by the meat, dairy, fast food industries is pervasive. I opened the newspaper this morning and a giant ad cut in the shape of a box of McDonald's fries fell out and my mouth started to water and my eyes fixated on the fries texture. A little more obvious (and comical) is the 2011 My Plate guide from the government (the new food pyramid) with its glass of dairy off to the side (well-played dairy industry). Don't worry, if you dig in on the website, you'll see non-dairy items like plant-based milks (soy, almond, etc.) meet the requirement just fine.

Although it's not easy, let's take the insight of Confucius: When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” So, instead of giving up all meat and dairy today forever, maybe try a shorter-term plant-based challenge, like the 28-day Engine 2 challenge, or just reduce your consumption by adding Meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman's "Vegan before 6pm" strategy. 

When I first started last year, I struggled because I viewed the change as "going without" because I simply tried to substitute vegan alternatives to the things I already ate (fake meats, etc.). But with the Engine 2 challenge, I started to see it as "expanding my options" because there were lots of new recipes and tasty food and I was seeing great health results. I'm still not there though. The big hold out is cheese (damn you, dairy industry!), but I'm working on it. 

Happy Earth Day!

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