Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Veggie

Ok, not really, but I am once again going to reassert my efforts to be more vegetarian.

I love meat. I LOVE meat. Part of the hard part of giving up meat is the contented feeling it gives me -- it's one of those things where I'm near guaranteed to feel happy, if not after then at least during. And it's hard to intentionally deprive oneself of happiness, no? Indeed it is.

But reading Raj Patel's excellent blog post on meat eating I am reaffirmed in my desire to emulate him, and to fulfill really the logical implications of my personal beliefs and my research agenda in food security, both of which tell me that most of the meat produced and consumed in the US is bad for the environment, bad for public health, bad for my personal health, excessive, contributing to antiobiotic resistance, usually unnecessarily torturous to the food animal, part of the corporate over-infrastructure that I abhor, and monstrously inefficient use of water and food resources (i.e. tons of grain fed to animals each year that could go towards feeding many times the same number of people -- the grain fed to livestock in the US alone could theoretically feed 800 million people rather than, say, 1/4 to 1/8 that number, and the 100,000 Liters of water required to produce each kilogram of beef -- see work by Cornell's David Pimentel among other sources, such as Michael Pollan's relatively excellent Omnivore's Dilemma).

But on the other hand, I've wildly failed each time I've tried this. Well, perhaps not always wildly -- sometimes I only gradually failed. But perhaps I can do it this way -- no cold, er, turkey, but rather cutting at least the all-round worst offender from my diet.

Can I stop eating beef?

Well, ok, to be honest my goal is even more modest still.

Can I stop eating non-grass-fed beef? (Grass-fed beef is likely far, far far more efficient and better for you than its grain-fed industrial equivalent.) That's my first challenge. WHEN I conquer that, we'll try cutting out, well, either all beef, or perhaps rather cut out all non-free-range/sustainable chicken.

It's not much, but it's an important (re)start.

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