...twice a week. There's no way Nate and I could commit to a full vegetarian lifestyle. In my family alone I was raised on a wide range of wild game, and I think my family might disown me if I gave up meat.
However, we made the commitment last week to eat a vegetarian meal once a week, on top of our weekly meal of fish. Why would we ever want to do such a thing?
Well, for one thing, it's healthier. In addition, Nate is not quite the hunter my dad is (no offense Nate) so our rotation of meet tends to be limited to beef, pork, and lots of chicken, which gets quite boring after 3 years.
Of course, there are also environmental benefits. Animal waste is a major contributor to polluted rivers and streams. In addition, the grains made to feed animals are coated in pollutants, which makes its way into our waters and plants as well.
It's also a way to avoid ingesting toxic chemicals. "The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of the pesticide residue in the typical American diet comes from meat, fish, and dairy products (Vegetarian Times)."
Most of the grain farmed in the US is given to animals. If we could instead use that grain to feed people around the world, perhaps we could reduce famine. In addition, cattle are not even designed to consume grains; they are meant to eat grasses. The changes made to cattle in order to feed them grains (which is cheaper) have a large impact on the planet and on us as consumers of beef. (More details in a future post).
Finally, animals we eat today are rarely treated humanely. People fall all over a continuum on this issue, but my personal opinion is that animals do have a right to humane living while they are alive. I won't apologize for eating meat, but I think while the animal is living they deserve a natural, healthy environment (which also makes them healthier food for us).
By cutting out one meal of meat a week, we decrease the global impact of meat eating. Everything about the production of meat--loss of cropland due to grazing, the inefficient process of feeding vast quantities of water and grain to cattle, factory farm pollution--is a major environmental issue with far reaching consequences (E Magazine).
Last week was our first vegetarian meal, and it was one of the best meals we've had lately! We didn't miss the meat at all.