“Iron Chef” Mario Batali is showing his concern for the environment. Fans will be interested to know that Mario is introducing a new campaign by the Environmental Working Group to promote “Meatless Mondays.” The idea is to reduce the negative impact of excessive meat consumption by going one day per week without it.
[Photo: Vegan Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Lentil Patties with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Salad]
It is endearing to me that a celebrity chef is asking us to eat less of something that has been such a badge of honor to prepare in the history of the culinary arts!
In the US, by most estimates, we eat about twice the amount of protein that we need. In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US on the scale of healthcare system performance 37th out of 191 countries. At or near the top were France, Spain, and Italy. The US also consumes about 60% more meat per person than Europe (and production efficiency has resulted in US cows and pigs being grown in atrocious circumstances by comparison). The demand for meat has created a huge footprint in everything from personal health to methane production to global agribusiness.
This demand for meat across the globe is increasing rapidly as the world population increases and other nations strive to live the Western lifestyle. In fact, a “feed the world” mentality has served as effective marketing and PR for big agribusiness conglomerates such as Syngenta, Cargill, and Monsanto. Consequently, rather than urging consumers to take advantage of the many benefits of eating lower on the food chain, agribusiness has only promoted biotech solutions to increase yields—it is big business, after all!
GMO promoter and organic food critic Dennis Avery declared, "The world must create five billion vegans in the next several decades, or triple its total farm output without using more land." Hmmm. That’s something to think about over your next burger.
What ARE some of the benefits of eating less meat?
- Lower personal risk of cancer and heart disease
- Less toxins ingested (toxic substances are bioconcentrated in animal tissues)
- Less resources used (grain-eating animals need much more water and energy inputs than the crops themselves)
- Less cost to household budgets
- Less rainforest destruction as American beef demand goes down
- Fewer animals grown in horrific, factory farm conditions
Because we have access to many healthier alternatives, it makes sense to eat a meatless dinner once a week. No one is suggesting cutting out meat altogether—for some people, organic, grass-fed meat is an occasional healthy choice.
Great sources of non-red meat protein are eggs, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and vegetables. There are also many vegetarian cookbooks available for that “Meatless Monday”. Why not start next week?
~ Terry Arden Pollock, MS
Photo Credit: The image used in this post (Vegan Pumpkin Seed-Crusted Lentil Patties with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Salad) was originally posted to Flickr by rusvaplauke at http://flickr.com/photos/7440954@N05/2298907166. It was reviewed on 08:24, 11 October 2008 (UTC) by the FlickreviewR robot and confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.