Vegging Out (Part 2)
If the information on the impact of factory farming on the environment (see Vegging Out, Part 1) moves you to action, the logical step is to reduce your own consumption of industrial-produced meat. (If you need more convincing, check out this award-winning video, "The Meatrix.") Of course, you do not have to be a full-out vegetarian to make a positive impact.
According to a New York Times article, "Rethinking the Meat Guzzler," "Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources."
Think you are ready to give vegetarianism a try? Here are a couple of resources for advice on how to get started:
--The Vegetarian Starter Kitfrom Vegetarian Times
--Earthsave International has this brochure on making the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle, and offers a 60-day, supported program for those ready to take the "VegPledge"
Beyond the environmental benefits of cutting back on meat consumption, there are many other reasons to move toward a plant-based diet (see "22 Reasons to Go Vegetarian Right Now"), including:
--Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University
--Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills by an average of $4,000 a year.
--You'll avoid toxic chemicals. The EPA estimates that nearly 95 percent of pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products.
Other ways to help:
--Learn more about sustainable food
--Buy your food from smaller, sustainable farms (check out this guide for how to find such farms)
--Buy locally grown foods by joining a CSA group, or visiting a farmers market