“The good of people’s bodies and the good of the planet are more or less perfectly aligned.” – Professor Gidon Eshel.
Okay, so I promised my sister I was done being the Vegetarian Vigilante (that’s just fun to say – I feel like I should have a mask and cape or something!) but then I came across this article
in the NY Times and I just had to share the highlights with you (Sorry Laura!!):
– The average American eats 1/2 lb of meat per day.
– 30% of the world’s ice-free land is involved in livestock production
– Livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gasses – more than transportation. The geophysicists at the University of Chicago estimate that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by a mere 20% it would be the equivalent of everyone in the country switching from a regular sedan to an ultra-efficient Prius.
– 10 times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories in beef than to get the equivalent calories straight from the grain.
– Livestock production is responsible for 3/4 of the water-quality problems in the US.
But What About My Protein?
As a vegetarian, the question I get most often is “But how do you get your protein?” Mark Bittman answers thusly: “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.”
Especially in fitness circles, it is often said you need 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of weight to build muscle. I’m no nutritionist or health expert of any kind but I can tell you my personal experience with it. I ate well over 100 g of protein a day for a year and a half (following the Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle plan) and I did get leaner and more muscular. But, as a vegetarian consuming about 30 g of protein a day I am significantly leaner and more muscular than I was as an omnivore. Today I weigh about 8 lbs less and have a body fat % 3 points lower. My hair, nails and skin have not suffered, nor has my bone density. That’s just how it worked out for my body. Incidentally, Bill Pearl
, a five-time Mr. Universe, is a vegetarian.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Michael Pollack in the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma addresses these issues by saying we should simply try to eat less meat and make the meat we eat high quality (for instance, grass fed free-range beef instead of factory-farmed, grain-pumped, antibiotic-doped ground chuck). “Make meat a treat” says Prof. Eshel.
I’m not telling everyone to go vegetarian – I know this isn’t realistic for a lot of people. But just try adding one or two vegetarian meals a week into your diet (or even a whole day!). You’ll get more vegetables in your diet. You’ll save money on groceries. You’ll improve your health
. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be helping the planet out! And you won’t even have to splurge on a Prius:)