Our Meatless March became more of a “Mainly Meatless with a side of Meat.. March” and that’s OK, I wasn’t that interested in the title anyhow. It was the awareness of a more plant-based diet that I wanted for myself, hubby and kids, and I’m happy to report that we all feel happier, healthier and more informed after this month-long culinary adventure.
There are many reasons to consider cutting back on meat in your diet; health and minimizing your environmental footprint tend to top most lists. Aside from these obvious motivators, I thought finding substitutes for the expected beef, pork and chicken dishes in our house, could be just the culinary challenge I was craving after a winter of casseroles and stews. Eating vegetarian requires you to broaden your cultural references, I have been having a blast experimenting with Indian, Ethiopian and Thai dishes. I cannot wait to play with produce from the farmer’s markets with my new spices and pantry staples this spring.
North America has become a society dependent on meat. No longer for any assumed health benefits (protein, iron), but because “everything is better with bacon”. Beliefs like that are literally killing us, (diabetes, heart disease, cancers) and are plaguing the entire planet with pollutants.
Let’s play, ‘Did you know?‘:
- Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems
- Industrial cow growth and slaughter generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation
- Livestock uses more than 30% of the earth’s entire land surface
- Factory farming is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where about 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing
- Global meat and dairy consumption is expected to double by 2050
We need to consider that more than 25 billion animals are killed by the meat industry each year – in ways that would horrify any compassionate person. With numbers so high, there is simply no way to treat all of these animals in a humane way. The incessant market demand allows for the major manufacturers to continue to cage, overcrowd, and prematurely slaughter livestock.
Eat less meat and make sure what you do eat originates from more humane/environmentally kind sources. If we could collectively cut back to more realistic portions of meat, like one and a half pounds of meat a week, a major shift towards positive change would happen. Control your portions and buy your meat from a local vendor. Consider this, just because it says “organic” and costs a small fortune, doesn’t always mean it is smart option. Each country has its own terms for classifying “organic”, and anything shipped to your grocery store, has you contributing to all of the energy, emissions and pollutants released transporting it to you.
The time is now to acknowledge that a local, plant-based diet is the key to healthier lifestyle. Call it “Meatless March”, “Meatless Monday”, or “Weekday Vegetarianism”, the name doesn’t matter. Don’t pressure yourself, pressure causes panic, and panic can make healthy changes in diet that much easier to abandon. What matters is that you become more consciously aware of where your meat comes from, realistic portion sizes, your health and the well-being of our entire planet. Approach a more-meat-less diet with curiosity, fun and without pressure and you could save the planet, and feel pretty great doing it.
A few snapshots of some of the goodies my family and I have been enjoying this past month, sans meat. Click on any image for a larger view.
For more material on this subject, please check out:
2006 UN Report: Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars
Canada’s Food Guide – Learn what they recommend for daily and weekly portions of meat, fish, fibre, fruit, etc.
MeatlessMonday.com – Recipes, guidelines, resources.
Post Punk Kitchen – From tamale sheppard’s pie to chocolate loaves, one of the Internet’s best resources for vegan recipes.
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