Saturday, October 6, 2007

Day Ninety - Greens for the Greenie

Eating Vegetarian One Day a Week

We all know why it's better for the environment to eat lower on the food chain, yes? I talked about it a little when I posted on reducing the amount of beef we eat. But in case you missed that one, here it is in a nutshell: Eating meat simply isn't energy efficient. Animals suck at converting the grains they consume into meat for humans.

This is because they greedily use those grains to fuel their muscles, keep their hearts beating, fire brain synapses, etc. They just don't seem to care that this colossal waste of energy is hurting our environment. Selfish bastards. But the good news is we don't have to wait for the cows, pigs and chickens of the world to see the error of their ways. We have the power to eliminate this horrid inefficiency ourselves. All we need to do is eat vegetarian.

Are you cringing yet? I am. I was born and raised on damn near three daily servings of meat & potatoes and I find it very difficult to imagine a meal that never had a face. However, in an effort to help the environment, I am pledging to go vegetarian. For a whole day. Every week.

From now on, we will be having "Faceless Fridays", where we eschew anything that once had eyelashes and smiled. I'll even skip the milk for me all day and only give the kids a glass with dinner. They'll LOVE being able to drink the normally forbidden juice with lunch and we'll all know that Bad Mommy already gives 'em Swiss Miss for breakfast.


By eliminating one meat day per week, I am reducing our meat consumption by 14%. According to the USDA, the average American consumes 195 pounds of meat each year. With four people in the house, our family then averages 780 pounds of meat. A 14% reduction in that number would mean a savings of 109 pounds of meat, that equates to nearly 4,000 pounds of CO2!

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

This will require some creative menu planning, but fortunately my family loves pizza. So if all else fails, we'll be having veggie pizza with IBC Root Beer every Friday night and, honestly, the thought of that puts a smile on my face.... and probably the face of the animal I didn't eat that night :-)


Mary Elizabeth said...

I know it's prepackaged (and that the lining package is plastic..) - but when you're having a really tired Friday I like Morning Stars vegetarian foods:D

leslie said...

Including eggs and milk in a vegetarian diet creates infinite recipe possibilities.
Diet for A small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe is a classic for vegetarian recipes.

Burbanmom said...

Thanks, Guys! I'll check them out! :-)

Felix said...

There seem to be some good arguments that vegetarianism is better for the environment, though it's debatable. See:

One thing you may want to reconsider and research a little more, however, is whether you are sacrificing the health of your kids and family for the sake of the environment. (Yes, a true moral dilemma!)

There are many experts (such as Dr. Mercola, Loren Cordain, Jack Lalanne, etc.) who are of the opinion that the hunter-gatherer (a.k.a Paleo, PaleoMed, or Evolutionary) diet consisting of vegetables, fruits + meat/dairy is much healthier than one consisting of primarily of grains. Grains had been introduced late into the evolutionary cycle and is a leading cause of obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes (even whole grains).

At the very least, I think you should reconsider your recent consumption of fruit juice in lieu of milk. Fruit juice (even so-called "100% fruit juice") is about as bad as soft drinks due to their super-high sugar contents with none of the pulp/fiber that fresh pieces of fruit have. They also lack the calcium and protein of milk, which in contrast is relatively low in sugar. (Clean raw milk is best, but inconvenient to obtain.)

I'm unsure if your new enviro-diet excludes fish too, but if you won't eat fish due to high mercury content (from modern day pollution) or abhorrent fish-farming practices, it may be wise to consider at least giving fish oil to your kids (rich in Omega-3s) to promote brain development and good health. A grain-rich diet will otherwise cause some undesirable Omega-6/Omega-3 ratios in the body.

Felix said...

Hmmm, maybe I was too quick to type my last comment. At least you are only being vegetarian once a week... much healthier than being a full-blown vegan! And having fruit juice just once a week probably isn't terrible...

Wendy said...

I have to disagree with this statement Animals suck at converting the grains they consume into meat for humans. They actually do it very well. Cows, in particular, are very adept at taking food that is undigestible to humans (grass) and converting into something we humans can eat (beef and milk). For more on that, please read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma.

The problem is that most of the beef we Americans consume is not from cows that are fed a diet wholly consisting of grass, which is what cows should eat, but are often "finished off" with grains cows were never meant to eat, specifically, corn.

The other issue is the huge amount of pollution and waste generated in a feedlot.

Beef that was raised on grass is not anymore harmful to the environment than eating wheat or corn or soybeans grown on a corporate farm in California - even an "organic" corporate farm isn't as eco-friendly or sustainable as they'd lead us to believe.

Eating local (which I know you do :), eating whole, non-processed foods, and growing your own, whenever you can, is really the best, most sustainable, most eco-friendly choice - whether you choose to be a vegetarian or a meat-eater.