[Green Options blog]
Editor's Note: This Week, Chris Baskind from Lighter Footstep explores
going vegetarian and its impact upon the environment. You can check
out the original post here.
Want to help the environment? Consider cutting back on the amount of
meat you consume -- or go vegetarian altogether.
It's not just a question of animal ethics. Meat production is
humankind's least-efficient means of feeding itself. For every pound
of meat that goes to the plate, it took sixteen pounds of grain and
soybean feed to put it there. On top of this, each calorie of meat
protein requires approximately 78 calories of fossil fuels to produce.
And at a time where 4,000 children die each day from the lack of safe
water, livestock production -- including feeds -- accounts for about
half the fresh water used in industrialized nations.
In short: an affluent, meat-rich diet consumes up to three times more
resources than one based on vegetables.
Pretty gloomy statistics. There's really no argument with the idea
that a well-constructed vegetarian diet is better for our bodies and
the environment. Of course, it's easier said than done. Meat-eating is
synonymous with health and prosperity in much of the West. Attend a
business dinner, and you can be assured the main course is meat. It's
tough to find vegetarian food when you're eating out. Going veggie is
a significant commitment.
Pick one day out of the week to be your "veggie day" and stick with
it. If you're planning to do an all-vegetarian day, rather than a
single meal, the weekend is a good place to start: you'll have more
control over your schedule. Some families start by dedicating a single
sit-down meal -- Friday dinner, for instance -- to veggie fare.
Whatever works best with your busy schedule.
By essentially making an appointment with vegetarianism, you're
confronting the big stumbling block for new Veggies -- planning. Like
any new habit, practice makes perfect. Knowing you need a meal plan
(or three) a week in advance allows you to browse for recipes well in
advance. More importantly, it allows you to shop. ...
Going veggie isn't just leaving out the meat. You'll need some balance
in your diet -- and variety. Like any new practice, you'll do better
with vegetarian cooking if you seek out some instruction.
Here's an excuse to prowl your local new or used bookstore. Vegetarian
cookbooks are hot. You'll find everything from books which help you
replicate traditional recipes --veggie style -- to ethnic cooking, to
the uncharted waters of the truly avant-garde.
And then there's Google. Pop in the search query "vegetarian cooking"
and you'll see there are thousands of free resources at your disposal.
A few which really stick out: Vegweb's impressive archive of veggie
and vegan recipes; VegCooking, with it's magazine-style survey of all
things veggie, and the offbeat PostPunkKitchen, a fully vegan site
with a lot of attitude and style.