“No, really, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are, you’re going to go there.”
“No, I’m not planning on going there. And even if I were, I wouldn’t expect you to go, too. I would never expect that from you unless you wanted to.”
Where did he think I was going? To a land that scares many a man – the land of vegetarianism.
Since my six year barely touches meat, my nine year old is a light eater, and I can take most meat or leave it, I’ve begun to cook a lot less. A regular sized portion for my husband and a much smaller portion for the kids and me to split does just fine. Last night was the first my husband noticed. He’s been very supportive of all the environmentally friendly changes I’ve been making over the past couple of years, but this one got him a bit defensive. He understands the environmental impact of meat, but he’s a carnivore through and through.
I really don’t expect him to change his carnivorous habits, not unless he feels he should. But I can make wiser meat choices for him and for the rest of my meat eating (to various degrees) family. Here are five ways.
- Offer a bigger variety of foods when you’re offering smaller portions of meat. I grew up with a dinner plate full of a big slab of meat, some type of potato or pasta, and one vegetable. That’s how I used to cook my own family’s dinners, too. But now I’ve changed that. Now I offer a smaller portion of meat and several sides including two different colored vegetables every night. By adding more vegetables, beans and whole grain pastas, the meat isn’t missed so much.
- Be picky about the meat you buy. Buy organic meat or meat that comes from pasture raised, grass fed cows or grain fed, truly free range chickens. I call this happy meat. If the animal lived a happy, free to roam life before it became my dinner, it left less of an impact on the earth. Yes, this type of meat does cost more, but if you’re serving less meat, that should help even it out a bit.
- Serve meatless dinners once or twice a week. You probably already eat several meatless breakfasts and lunches a week. Why not add in a meatless dinner or two, also? A lot of people institute Meatless Mondays in their homes and enjoy something like a meatless baked ziti, a salad and warm fresh bread. Really, who is gong to even realize there’s not meat with a meal like that? Ban the pepperoni and sausage from your Friday night pizza and suddenly you’ve got two meatless dinners a week.
- Be wise with your leftovers. Throwing away leftover meat not only wastes the meat it wastes all of the resources used to feed, water and house the animal it came from. It also wastes all of the energy it took to get that meat from the farm to your table. Freeze any leftover portions that can’t be eaten within two days to add to salad and soups or even make a meal for one.
- Buy your meat locally whenever possible. The impact of food miles is one that I’ve only come to realize in the last year. When I’m eating a burger made from beef that came from across the country, a lot of energy went into transporting that beef and keeping it cold along the way. When I’m eating a burger made from the happy meat I bought at the local farmer’s market from a local producer, that meat only traveled about 40 miles in the back of a person’s mini-van in iced coolers. There’s a huge difference in the environmental impact.
Image courtesy of Flickr