One topic that Alex and I have discussed several times over the course of our new lifestyle thus far is America’s consumption of meat (note that Alex grew up in a household where meat was on the menu for most meals). Finally today I herd a newscast on NPR that basically summarized one of the reasons American’s need to consume less meat, greenhouse gas emissions.
If you are an avid reader, then you already know that Alex and I are primarily vegetarian during the week, but we do have meat on our free days. One reason for this is the relatively high calorie content of even ‘healthier’ cuts of meat. We find we get more bang for our calorie buck by just not consuming meat.
How often does the average day for an American consist of eating several different kinds of meat with every meal. Bacon on a breakfast sandwich, turkey, ham or roast beef for lunch, and then chicken or fish for dinner. Do you really need to eat that much protein in a single day? The average adult male needs around 56g of protein and the average adult woman needs around 46g of protein a day (WebMD). ½ of a boneless, skinless chicken breast (of average size, not the monster ones) has 27g of protein; that is 48.2% of a males daily protein needs and 58.6% of a woman’s daily needs. That is just half of a chicken breast that could be eaten for dinner or lunch.
When you think of what you eat for the rest of the day, the protein can really add up. Do you have milk or cream with you coffee, a handful of almonds for a snack, Greek yogurt for breakfast, beans or chili for lunch, maybe even a piece of tofu thrown in somewhere? Take a random day and count the amount of protein your consuming and then compare it to what your needs really are, chances are you are consuming significantly more protein then your body needs, and we are doing this on a nationwide scale.
The general response when people bring up the need to consume less meat is something akin to ‘Dirty Hippies!’. That is why Alex and I are quit reasonable in what we feel people need to do. We are not advocates for vegetarianism or veganism (but you if you want to do that we support it). What we are proponents of is the limiting of meat consumption to special dinners during the week or on the weekends. Really people don’t need to eat meat more then three times a week if they are eating a balanced diet.
Next time you go to make pasta and want a meat sauce, throw in soy meat instead (I do this and I honestly can’t tell the difference). Or if you are going to make lasagna, skip the meat all together and just make it with vegetables. Often I think people get the idea that they have to replace the meat they want to eat with a substitute meatless product that they don’t like. That isn’t nessarily the case, just think of other recipes that don’t require any meat at all. Have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch instead of Turkey. And just have an egg on an English muffin and skip the bacon. Once you give up meat with every meal, you will find you don’t miss it most of the time. If you feel like you have to have meat with a meal to feel full, try to use the meat as a garnish, instead of the main ingredient. And always keep in mind that a servicing of most meats in the size of a deck of cards. Kinda makes you rethink that double quarter pounder with cheese and bacon.
The basic reason why we all need to consume less meat is the massive effect it has on the environment and the strain that it put on ecosystems. Evolutionary speaking, humans evolved to eat meat and vegetables was because we basically needed to be able to eat whatever was around. We ate meat, but certainly not everyday and not for every meal. We need a mind shift in America to thinking of meat more as a delicacy (an animal did give its life so you can eat) and less as an everyday, every meal option.
Here is a great film that summarizes what I have been talking about (for those too lazy to read: http://cironline.org/reports/hidden-costs-hamburgers-3701)