Be a Flexitarian and Improve Your Health and the Environment

I am seeing a lot written about the increase in demand for meat.  But, there is evidence that Americans are eating less meat:

The department of agriculture projects that our meat and poultry consumption will fall again this year, to about 12.2 percent less in 2012 than it was in 2007. Beef consumption has been in decline for about 20 years; the drop in chicken is even more dramatic, over the last five years or so; pork also has been steadily slipping for about five years.

In 15 Powerful Reasons to Go Veg, there is clear evidence as to why it might be wise to consider a reduction in how much meat we eat.  One of which is because the meat from animals raised for American consumption is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics:

The animals on factory farms are frequently sick. This isn’t surprising given that they’re raised in filthy environments and fed diets inconsistent with their biological needs, such as with corn-fed cattle (cows are ruminants who are meant to digest grasses, not high-calorie grains). Because they are perpetually sick, these animals are routinely given antibiotics as both a reactive and preventative measure.

This is bad news for the people who consume their flesh. The antibiotics damage naturally occurring bacteria in the body, making humans more susceptible to disease. To present an even more frightening scenario, bacteria that’s routinely exposed to antibiotics eventually mutates to resist antibiotics entirely, which prevents their human host from being cured by certain medicines.

Dually noted, meat is a large contributor to global warming:

According to a United Nations report, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. Methane, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas, is one of the nastiest culprits of global warming; it traps 21 times more heat per molecule than carbon dioxide.

The methane emitted by livestock (raised for human consumption) is responsible for 19 percent of total global methane emissions. For instance, Circle 4 Farms, the world’s largest producer of pork with 1.2 million hogs raised and killed each year, creates more pollution than the entire city of Los Angeles.

What is exciting is that there is a rise in flexitarianism, or one who reduces their meat consumption without going vegetarian.  This is great for the environment and human health:

We rarely hear how the meat and dairy industries impact the environment. It is estimated that it takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of hamburger. By comparison, a pound of brown rice takes about 250 gallons of water to produce. For another comparison, if you take a 10 minute shower every day, it will take you 72 days to use 2,500 gallons of water.

Unsure of where you might begin to eat wiser and healthier while also helping the environment?  Why not start with Meatless Mondays?  The site offers ideas on how to build your program and provides a free, downloadable toolkit.

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