Mainstream environmental groups often avoid the topic of diet, even though for most of us, eating lower on the food chain is the most effective, simplest, and least expensive way to shrink our environmental footprint.
So we want to give recognition to two columnists–one from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and one from the Sierra Club’s Mount Vernon, Virginia chapter–who not only advocate reducing animal product intake but walk their talk.
In an installation of NRDC’s This Green Life column entitled Another Reason to Eat Less Meat, writer Sheryl Eisenberg mentions the various pollution problems caused by livestock farming, but focuses on global warming, “the biggest, scariest environmental problem of all.” She points out: “Meat isn’t the only problem. Whether we over-consume the animals themselves or just their byproducts (dairy and eggs), the impact is similar. The answer isn’t milk in place of meat, but a more plant-based diet overall.”
And that is what she did with her own diet. She reduced her meat intake in half, and moderated consumption of dairy and eggs. She said it wasn’t that hard to do, and listed her six most recent dinners–a nice mix of ethnic, standard American, and lighter dishes that she reported were “nutritious, all filling and all flavorful.” Her family liked the meals, too.
Jenny Abel, author of the Mount Vernon Sierran, the e-newsletter of the Sierra Club’s Mount Vernon Group, has been vegetarian for 23 years (as of 2012). In her column, Easy Greening: Skip the Meat, Save the World, she cites the meat industry’s contribution to pollution and global warming, as well as this mounting, serious concern:
Growing demand for meat also exacerbates our inability to feed a burgeoning population. According to a 2010 United Nations report, over half of the crops cultivated around the world are fed to livestock and 30% of the earth’s land is devoted to raising these animals. The same report estimates that our reliance on meat-based diets will result in serious worldwide famines by 2050 when the planet’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion people
Ms. Abel recommends checking out the extensive recipe collection at http://www.meatlessmonday.com/. (We also like the recipes, tips, and inspiration at http://www.meatoutmondays.org.) She invites readers to go at least meat-free one day a week, and pledges that she will take it further herself, going vegan one day a week.
What are some practical tips for putting more plants on your plate? We’re interested in your suggestions. One tip we like is to remember that some of our favorite meals are already plant-based. Such as PB&J! Granted, you can’t eat PB&J every day. Actually, that’s not true; some people do. This will be explored in an upcoming blog post…