Tuesday, November 3, 2009
DAY 2: the Great Meat Exchange
What I ate:
-Carter’s mountain apple
-Farmer’s market tomato
-Midlothian wheat bread
At breakfast I had yogurt and granola with fruit, very easy to keep vegetarian. As an omnivore, the sandwich I brought for lunch might have been quite different. To keep it vegetarian I stuck with cheese and hummus. For dinner I decided to try to make a vegan meal – steamed vegetables with rice and flat bread.
Considering my lack of cooking skills, it turned out fairly boring (the organic carrots were very flavorful though). I think a typical American citizen would not have been satisfied with this meal, which was completely lacking in protein. It probably would have been more exciting had I dumped cheese on top, but that would have rendered it non-vegan. Oh well.
Yesterday, an article entitled “The Carnivore’s Dilemma” conveniently appeared on nytimes.com. It explains that the un-sustainability of industrial meat lies primarily in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during its production. Apparently it all starts with the soybean that goes into the cow’s feed. Most of this soy comes from Brazil, and is grown on land that used to be tropical rainforest (something that I didn’t know). Besides the climatic factors of destroying a pristine natural habitat, the soybean then has to be shipped globally, emitting pollutants in the process. The industrial farms themselves use up tons of energy just in day-to-day operation (lighting, heating and cooling). Additionally, the manure (in liquefied ponds – gross) produced by the cows emits ridiculous amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. However, this excessive methane emission is mostly tied to the improper diet the cows are fed. The actual topic of the article was to explain why eating locally and sustainably raised meat isn’t actually bad for the environment (a point I agree with) but it did a good job explaining why industrial meat is not sustainable in the process.
So looking back over my food consumption, I question how “sustainable” my diet is. It’s certainly more sustainable than an omnivore’s diet, but could I do better? I especially question the sustainability of the organic granola and tortilla chips, as they still had to be processed and then shipped across the country to get to me. They are probably more healthy (since I am avoiding exposure to excessive amounts of pollutants), but I doubt they are much more sustainable. I can think of two solutions: one, knock out all processed food or two, find locally processed goods. I know you can get Route 11 chips (which are local) from the Fine Arts Café. And you can definitely get local granola, but it is stupidly expensive.
All in all, eating vegetarian has not been hard. You just have to change your expectations for what a meal constitutes. And when you cut out meat, that means you can have more of everything else, which could be a plus. So maybe it’s not “giving up” meat, but rather “exchanging” it for something else.
-Elizabeth, the vegetarian dieter
Niman, Nicolette Hahn. "The Carnivore's Dilemma." The New York Times. Retrieved on 3 November 2009 from The New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/31/opinion/31niman.html?pagewanted=2&sq=carnivores%20dilemma&st=cse&scp=1