Healthy Mom, Healthy Mama Earth; A Minimalist’s Practical Guide to Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time.
Best Intention: Going green in 2018.
I come from a LONG line of meat-loving German-Americans. My friends joke that dinner at the Cramers’ wasn’t complete without some kind of sausage, served whole or lightly sprinkled atop a veggie side dish. They’re not far off. And the tradition continues... my sons prefer liverwurst (“braunschweiger” in some Midwestern circles, “spreadable pork liver” for you laymen out there) on toast to a PB&J or grilled cheese any day.
But, given the recent climate-related disasters plus our backing out of the Paris Climate Accord, I’ve got “Eco-Anxiety.” Bad. And the Atlantic reminded me of some shocking statistics recently...
“According to the United Nations, 33 percent of arable land on Earth is used to grow feed for livestock. Even more, 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of Earth is used for grazing livestock. In all, almost a third of the land on Earth is used to produce meat and animal products.“ (Hamblin, 2017)
Eeeek. The guilt!
Now, I’ve tried the vegetarian thing and I genuinely liked how I felt most of the time and was proud that, for the year I did it, I saved a cow’s life or something. But vegetarianism is hard (especially for encased-meat lovers) and can feel like an all-or-nothing endeavor. Plus, I gotta feed my kids dinner every night and how do I do that without meat?! The recipies my dad taught me as a kid, they all start with meaty, meaty, meat! And isn’t meat supposed to be healthy for growing bodies? How do I keep ‘em hearty without it?
(Obviously these questions have answers (specifically 1) buy a vegetarian cookbook 2) No, it’s really not that healthy for any of us 3) beans, veggies, fruits, and so on) but I can’t hear any of that!)
Take heart, dear carnivore! The Atlantic piece says...
“... a person’s dedication to the cause doesn’t have to be complete in order to matter. A relatively small, single-food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact.”
“If everyone were willing and able to [make a small dietary change]—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.“
Alright, hopeful! They suggest substituting beans for beef. OK, I can do that... but I think I’d just end up eating more pork.
Last year I found a PRACTICAL solution to saving the planet (I like to say that because I feel like a superhero)... and feeling healthy too! It’s called VB6. Do you know it? Mark Bittman, food writer for the NYTimes, also known as “The MInimalist,” wrote this book a few years ago.
Here’s the basic gist: Eat vegan (or vegetarian) before 6pm.
Here’s why I like it:
1. It’s not all-or-nothing. You aren’t swearing off meat (or dairy) for life.
2. It encourages some good choices throughout the day. Since you’re eating vegan (or vegetarian) your diet is fairly limited to the healthy stuff. (And Bittman gives you some recipies if you’re not used to eating this way).
3. You can still make or eat the traditional dinner you grew up loving and get the (nebulous) benefits of a meaty meal.
I tried it full-bore vegan last spring, which was difficult. Almond milk in my coffee? Blech. So, I’ve catered it to my own likes and dislikes. Sometimes I go vegan, sometimes vegetarian. And come 6pm, I pig out like the meat-eater I was raised to be. You should see me chugging pork chops at warp speed!
What do you say, mom? Think you can swing it? I swear, you’ll feel like the hero you really are.
Please share other any other small tweaks you’ve made to save our planet from impending doom, by commenting below!
cover photo is Cholesterol’s Revenge by Irving Penn