“Meat is horrible.”
That was the headline I saw all weekend on my iPhone News shortcuts screen. It was dated July 3rd but yet it remained well past that date for a couple of days. I found this odd since the headlines traditionally change hourly. Did Apple really want me to read this article?
So, I finally clicked on it.
It may be delicious, but the evidence is accumulating that meat, particularly red meat, is just a disaster for the environment — and not so great for human beings, either.
The author Rachel Premack details the environmental, ecological, and health reasons why American’s should cut back or give up meat. “You need 48 times as many liters of water to produce the same amount of beef as veggies,” she exclaims. Premack also argues the unsustainability of animal agriculture, and addresses how $730 billion in health care costs could be avoided.
This isn’t exactly news to me but the fact that the Washington Post is publishing it is a big deal. Every “Earth Day” it seems I write a post about how eating less meat helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are contributing to global warming. I make it a priority to eat a more vegetarian diet and then forget as soon as I want to lose a few pounds, focusing on a high protein diet.
Agriculture today accounts for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions — posing one of the biggest challenges to countries desperately trying to curb the emissions that promote global warming. And half of those agriculture emissions come from livestock, which produce large amounts of methane, a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas.
If you are unsure of how global warming is effecting the world we live in, I highly suggest checking out a documentary on HBO called “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change.” The message is powerful and puts everything into current perspective with personal stories.
Premack goes on to suggest ways in which we might try to curb the amount of meat we eat like taxing meat, but that scenario just reminds me of the NYC soda tax that has been kind of a failure. More importantly, it points out that spreading awareness about the benefits our planet would reap if we could just change our habits.
An article today in our local newspaper talked about making a better burger by adding mushrooms to our beef patties. Slowly, I think the message is making its way around…
The real problem, I think, is changing our habits. I know why I should eat less meat, and while we are at it SUGAR and ALCOHOL but it’s really hard to stick to any diet that is different from our current one.
Many of us are conditioned to think of meat as a staple to our meals. We have been making recipes for generations passed down by family members that are part of our repertoire. It’s hard to grocery shop on the fly for vegetarian meals without a recipe in hand.
Breakfast is easy to go meat free. I love smoothies, oatmeal, toast, or English muffins. I originally got into Almond milk because it has 60 fewer calories per serving than skim milk. Now, I like it primarily because it’s dairy free.
My breakfasts are not devout of protein either, it just comes from non-meat sources like nuts, seeds, vegan protein powder. The only time it gets tricky is out for coffee as most places do not have dairy free milk options which is why I usually drink coffee at home or order it black. My go to is with Silk’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almondmilk.
The most challenging meals are without a doubt lunch and dinner for live long meat eaters. Grilling up chicken or steak are easy for me. Recipes are not required. They are relatively healthy and go well with simple side dishes. Veggies and beans on their own just don’t have a ton of flavor for a satisfying meal…
So how do I or WE break out of this funk!?
I’ve found that the best way to get good at making vegetarian meals are through the meal delivery services like Just Add Cooking or Blue Apron. They aren’t always the healthiest and the recipes can be hit or miss but they teach you how to cook with tofu, seitan, tempeh and beans. I haven’t tried Purple Carrot or Hungry Root, which only offer vegan meals, but I think it’s finally time I take the plunge.
Other great resources include Pinterest and some of my favorite vegan bloggers like Oh She Glows. I must admit, I don’t love making recipes from these two sources because I find you are required to buy obscure ingredients that you may not use again which is why I like the meal delivery option best.
I also enjoy the recipes provided on the Silk website like this Sweet Potato Avocado Slider. You can sign up for the Silk newsletter for new recipes and instant coupon, too.
I want to eat more vegetarian meals but like many of you, I worry about too many carbs, too much soy, not enough protein and if I’ll feel full.
Also, I do have some dairy based favorite treats. I love ice cream and yogurt. So Delicious makes a great dairy free frozen desert and Silk has a nice yogurt alternative I use to make my muesli. I love the Cashew Milk Chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Cream Non-dairy frozen dessert.
Best of all, I love FOMU which is a local Boston company that makes vegan ice cream using coconut milk and is to die for good. Seriously, check it out if you haven’t.
So bottom line, I’m good on breakfast and desserts and just need help with my lunches and dinners to eat a more earth friendly diet.
The more I read about the effects of meat on our planet, the more I want to eat a plant based diet with meat on occasion. As I’m not a vegan and I don’t intend to become one, I do hope this post encourages you to also more mindful of your diet not just in terms of your own health but also the planet.
I’d also love to know your thoughts on the Washington Post article. I thought it was funny that before the first sentence there is a large disclaimer that it had been edited to update some of the facts.
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This post is sponsored by Silk. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Find Silk at a retailer near you, here.
Katie @ The Budget Bakcpack says
I’m REALLY happy that you’re covering this! Back in November I was researching vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving (so my sister wouldn’t be stuck with only salad ><) and came across a YouTube channel called Hot For Food -- I like them for the same reason I like you -- you both offer facts and sell reality over fantasy (even in sponsored posts!). They make plant-based recipes SO accessible! And like you, I'm not planning to make the full shift to veganism, as I write on travel -- and meat/meals are inextricably linked to certain cultures and subcultures. Having wonderful places like b.good and Clover in Boston really help with getting used to living largely plant-based (almost entirely off dairy and meat 2x per week). The only struggle I find is getting enough healthy calories in on days that I exert more energy… strategy plays a big part for sure!
Lately I’ve been eating a lot more plant-based meals and it feels phenomenal! My go-tos have been sweet potatoes, cauliflower, tofu, eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli, nuts, and LOTS of fruits as well! It’s awesome that we’re learning to reduce our meat consumption because it is just an amazing change for our environment, health and connection with the animals!
I’m shocked that you’ve found that most places don’t have dairy-free alternatives to milk for your coffee. Even when I lived in a tiny Alabama college town there was at least soy milk at every coffee shop. Now, every place I visit has soy and most have either coconut or almond as well, if not both! As a vegetarian/vegan going on 11 years I can tell you it’s SUPER easy being vegan these days. 10 years ago, not so much.
I should have reworded it, there are some but they often use sweetened varieties or soy milk which I won’t do unless it’s organic.
Meagan @ My Life as Mrs says
I’ve always been vegetarian so I don’t think I can help much on the switching side of things, but I can offer that you can try to use substitutes? They’ve been getting better over the last 10 years as more people are trying vegan/vegetarian diets. Maybe think about meals you like to make that include meat but it’s not necessary or try and be creative and replace it with something else.
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness says
It’s so interesting, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 10, so for me, it’s just second nature to come up with plant-based meals on the fly. But I totally get that people who grew up eating meat have a hard time figuring out what a plant-based lifestyle really means for each meal of the day. One of the suggestions I’d make to you is to keep pre-made veggie burgers in your freezer -- but definitely not the processed, long ingredient lists ones. There are some great brands out there now that are minimally processed and contain just a few ingredients. I often will heat up a black bean burger, throw it on some greens with avocado & tomato, mix up an easy vinaigrette, and call it dinner. Plant-based diets can definitely get carb-heavy if you aren’t careful, so I always make sure to just pay attention to how much protein I’m getting.
I went vegetarian 5.5 years ago. It was a bit overwhelming because you truly have to start over in learning how to cook. I found blogs to be really helpful. Post Punk Kitchen and Daily Garnish are my favorites for recipes. But No Meat Athlete would probably be super helpful for you. He does a podcast that’s fun and you can listen to while walking. He and his friend Sid Garza-Hillman promote an approach to make it super easy like every Monday is pasta night and every Tuesday is veggie burger night. Within those confines, ingredients can swap out but it takes the pressure off figuring out what to make. After awhile, recipes start to become habit (Pioneer Woman’s black bean burgers are awesome and I use the food processor to make then incredibly easy!) and the whole thing just becomes easier. I hate weird ingredients and I don’t make anything that has over tenish ingredients. That’s just too much for me to shop for and deal with. With time, you can adjust and you memorize new go-to recipes that you love. Give yourself some time and slack : ) good luck!!