I must admit that this particular green living concept had me confused. How could eating meat be harmful to the environment moreover to eat well we need meat, right? I could also feel resistance when I mentioned eating less meat, Man and Teens were worrying about going hungry!
But if we wanted to be a green family we had to crack this. We found that yes, we do need to eat less meat and no, it will not harm us, quite the opposite!
Why should we eat less meat?
The problem with industrial meat
It is a greedy process
At equal weight, it takes 75 times more energy to grow beef than cereals,100.000L of water for 1kg of meat against 900L for 1 kg of grains. Half of the world’s harvest is used to feed industrially raised cattle. Imagine how many more people we could feed if we kept it for humans.
It is polluting
Growing cheap meat pollutes too. Such a concentration of animals in one place produces a lot of pollution. Think pee and cowpats in epic proportions! That pollution makes its way to the soil, the waterways and eventually ends up in the oceans. The animals are fed GMO grains full of pesticides and herbicides that pollute the environment too.
It is bad for the animals
Grown for the food industry the animals are packed close to use less land and do not eat their proper diet of grass but are fed grains topped with synthetic supplements and in some countries, growth hormones to get a better meat conversion and bring in more money per animal.
The poor raising conditions weaken and stress the cattle. They need routine antibiotics to keep disease at bay. We were talking about beef, but it is the same for chicken or pigs or any other battery raised animal.
It is bad for our health
This system gives cheap low-quality meat, fatty, chewy tasteless and full of potentially dangerous residues that cannot feed us properly. It is terrible for our health and the environment.
The benefits of eating less meat
- Reducing our meat consumption to anything under 300g per week per person for red meat would reduce all the polluting factors enough to positively influence climate change.
- Choosing sustainable meat from animals that have been raised on their natural diet of grass with space and sunshine reduces the need for medication.
- It provides a decent living for the small scale organic farmer raising them.
- By choosing to eat sustainable meat, we are avoiding unnecessary contamination by antibiotics. When we do have to take some for a serious illness they will have more chance to be efficient as we didn’t build resistance.
- Eating less meat is good for our cholesterol levels and to reduce obesity.
- We help protect our arteries and reduce the risk of heart attacks too when we eat less meat.
I’m not going to lie to you, to use only sustainably raised meat and to eat way less of it was tough to put in place. Good quality meat is quite expensive, and none of us wanted to become full-time vegetarians. We had to find creative solutions to make the challenge easier.
So how do you eat less meat?
When changing lifelong habits, it is best to take it slow. It took us around four years to reach our goal. Although we had talked about the benefits of buying quality meat and of eating less of it, we decided to start with small changes and each time build on our success. The final goal was to eat 20% of meat or less and 80% of vegetables or more on most days.
- I reduced the meat by half in recipes like stews, shepherds’ pies, chillies or curries. I replaced it with vegetables like peas, carrots, swedes, parsnips, turnips, pumpkins and courgettes chopped up in small pieces and I also added a few tablespoons of cooked corn kernels, lentils, chickpeas or beans.
- I introduced vegetarian dishes into the menu several times in the month, choosing dishes well loved by my family at first like quiches, frittatas, pizzas, and pasta dishes. You just replace the meat in your favourite recipe with eggs and locally produced cheese and add extra vegetables like kale, spinach, grated root vegetables to add bulk. I always serve more grains with greens and vegetables on the side so nobody goes hungry. At least once in the month, I try a new vegetarian recipe to see what sticks. I add the successful ones to my meal plan.
- I make a roast once a month, so nobody has the impression of missing out. I serve slices with roasted veggies, mash, legumes and gravy. We eat the leftovers in a couple of dishes in the week.
source local organic meat
- We are lucky to raise our chicken, and we have small organic farms not too far from us growing grass-fed beef and pigs sustainably. The great thing is that as we buy straight from the producer and in bulk it is not too expensive and we can see that the animals are happy in the fields.
- In February this year, my dermatologist gave me a great little recipe called “Miam-ô-fruits” to reduce inflammation and pain from lupus. We all eat it for breakfast every day of the week, leaving weekends for treats like croissants or pancakes. It is an improved organic fruit salad that can also be eaten as a smoothie. It has not only made a difference to my health, helping to eliminate inflammation and improve my skin, but it helps us feel more satisfied throughout the day. none of us suffers from cravings now we are eating this breakfast, even with drastically reduced portions of meat.
One last thing
Using these strategies to lower our meat intake means that we can afford to buy locally grown grass-fed meat, which is more nourishing and tastier than commercially produced meat. We are supporting the local economy and helping organic farmers thrive. At the same time, we are helping reduce pollution and are being kind to ourselves buy not feeding our body rubbish.
I would love for you to share your best tip or quick recipe to eat less meat. I will publish the first 20 in a follow-up blog post along with their author’s names. To submit yours, click the button below.