Project Greenify has taken us through little lifestyle changes throughout this blog. We talked about changing our purchasing behaviors, mixing in some thrift finds to our wardrobe, as well as turning to greener modes of transportation. But, just when you thought we’ve completed this goal of living a green lifestyle, let me tell you, we’re barely halfway! There still are a lot of things that we do every day that can be changed and improved. This week’s blog will be focusing on an activity that we do every single day; three times a day, even!
Yes, I am talking about eating.
Did you know that your dietary choices can be improved not only for the benefit of your health but for the planet as well? In past blogs, we have focused more on choosing food products according to how “green” they were packaged. But, practicing sustainability when it comes to preparing your meals does not stop here. The actual ingredients matter as much.
It is very rare for the average person to notice the link between the steak dish on their plate and the environmental impact it has on the planet. This week’s read aims to shed light on this matter. With this, we would be focusing on encouraging our readers to change up their diet to one with less meat consumption. Believe it or not, eating less meat is a big green step towards sustainability.
How Eating Less Meat Helps the Environment
Numerous aspects of meat production take a great toll on our environment.
Meat products are indeed an important part of everyone’s diet throughout the globe. This high consumption of meat has been leading to high rates of industrial livestock production, a process detrimental to the environment to a degree. A report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) even concluded that a meat’s entire life cycle is responsible for 18% of the world’s global warming emissions. This data was a result of looking into the total energy involved in the typical life cycle of meat. This life cycle includes growing, harvesting, transporting, and preparing meat. This data makes meat-heavy diets the least energy-efficient compared to other diet types.
Coconut Bowl Set
Click on pic for more details
Moreover, animal manure, chemical residue, and other agricultural waste pollute waterways. These runoff substances create “dead zones” or areas where marine life can no longer be supported. Deforestation has also been an issue since trees have been cut to make space for grazing pastures.
The fastest, most obvious way to help reduce the adverse impacts of industrial livestock production on the environment is to eat less meat. This is a great way of slowing down meat’s energy inefficient life cycle.
How Can I Cut Down on Meat Consumption?
It is important to understand that “less meat” and meatless” are entirely different. It would be easier to cut down on meat consumption putting in mind that you are not depriving yourself of meat, instead, you are simply eating less of it.
Here are some tips to help your transition to a less meat diet:
- Discover new and tasty recipes. This will encourage you to broaden your palate and discover how other types of food can be as satisfying as consuming meat dishes.
- Limit your purchase of meat items. Having a few portions of meat available to you will teach you to deliberate in preparing your meals. This is the best way to eat less meat without depriving you of consuming it especially when you crave its flavor.
- Consider meat alternatives. Our best recommendation would be jackfruit. You can buy the fruit or you can buy it canned. It has a very subtle taste and a consistency very similar to shredded meat. Cook it with your favorite sauce and you wouldn’t even notice the absence of real meat!
- When planning your menu, identify two days of the week where you’ll be consuming meatless dishes. Consider having ‘No Meat Wednesdays’ or ‘Meat-Free Fridays.’ Establish these schedules and stick to them.
What Happens if We Eat Less Meat?
Eating less meat benefits two things: your health and the environment.
First, your health will improve when you eat less meat. A diet rich in meat consumption makes one prone to obesity, and heart diseases. Moreover, meat, specifically red meat, is difficult to digest and is rich in sugar, making them unhealthy especially when consumed heavily. While meat is a well-known source of protein, it is not the only source. Furthermore, the average person consumes 100 grams of protein a day when the amount needed by the body is 46 grams for women, 56 grams for men only.
Second, the environment will benefit from the slowed pace of industrial livestock production. While it is not the single, most-effective solution to global warming and climate change, it is a positive shift towards sustainability.
What to Eat When You Want to Stop Eating Meat?
As briefly introduced in a previous section, there are a lot of alternatives to help you consume less of it.
Here are your best options when it comes to meat replacements:
- Plant-based chicken/ plant-based sausages
- Branded meat substitutes (ex. Beyond Meat)
When it’s too difficult to avoid meat, consider buying pasture-raised meat instead of industrially produced livestock. Pasture-raised meat is grown in more humane ways that are also eco-friendlier compared to those grown in industrial systems. They are also considered to be healthier since pasture-raised animals eat vegetation and are left unconfined.
Eating Less Meat and Weight Loss
In a previous section, we have indicated how meat-heavy diets make one prone to obesity and other related diseases.
To be clear, consuming meat, per se, does not make you gain weight. In fact, meat is a rich source of protein and fat good for your heart. Skinless chicken breast, for example, is a very good food item in most healthy diets. It is protein-rich and is lean (low in fat).
Here’s the thing, some meat products contain an abundance of bad fat or saturated fat. This type of fat clogs your arteries and other health complications. Red meat and process products like ham, hot dogs, and cured meat are very rich in saturated fat. That’s on top of other unhealthy contents like sodium and preservatives. It’s the heavy consumption of these types of meat that lead to obesity. On the other hand, a balanced diet, with appropriate amounts of meat consumption is very vital when it comes to weight loss.
Are you ready to take on the challenge of changing up your diet? More than helping the planet, think of it as helping yourself be healthier first. No pressure, take it in strides and increase your pace when you’re ready. Project Greenify is already proud of you for trying!
- Algal Doom: The Growing Threat of Harmful Algal Blooms
- Raising Animals in an Industrial System
- Eat Less Meat, Cool the Planet
- Eating Meat Sustainably
- Does Eating Meat Make You Gain Weight & Fat?
- The 10 Best Meat Substitutes for Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes
- Eating Less Meat, More Plants Helps the Environment