As I mentioned in my One Small Change Challenge post, I’m trying to go one meal a week meatless for my family. It’s a bit of a push, but I believe that we can do it. This first week was an easy one, just an old family favorite, Sand and Shells. I’ll be trying new recipes out in future weeks.
But why is this a good thing to do?
Meat has a fairly high environmental price. It takes a lot of resources to feed whichever kinds of animals. Huge amounts of water, crops and land go to it, and the animals aren’t even always treated very well.
Add in antibiotics use in animals and the pesticides they consume from their feed, and meat gets less and less appetizing. Now add in the amount of fossil fuels used for producing meat.
You can buy organically produced, free range meat if you like, but there are still problems with that. Free range means they take more land. The meat itself will likely be better for you, but still consumes quite a bit of land.
Even if you aren’t ready to go vegetarian or vegan yet, you can cut down on how much meat your family eats. Simply start going without meat one day a week.
Eating less meat isn’t just eco friendly. Done right, it’s also good for your health and your wallet.
Vegetarian meals cooked with a focus on being healthy help you to lower cholesterol and reduce your chances of a heart attack, strokes, cancer and more. It doesn’t mean these will never happen to you, but lowering your odds is a good thing.
There’s nothing boring about vegetarian fare. People who say that haven’t done much searching for interesting recipes, of which there are plenty online.
In terms of money, meat is far more expensive than many vegetarian ingredients. Cook beans of one sort or another and serve them with your favorite vegetables and grains. You can have a meal that looks and tastes amazing, and have spent less than on a simpler meal that included meat.
Make your meatless days fun. Have chopped fresh vegetables ready for when you want a snack, as well as for a great addition to any meal. Cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, snap peas and others are wonderful, and you may not even need a dip to make them interesting.
It’s also great for parents who want to expose their children to a greater variety of foods. Meatless meals can be challenging with picky eaters, but you can work with them to make it more fun. Have them help you pick the ingredients. Have them help you prepare the foods. Talk about where food comes from, and why you sometimes go meatless.
All this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. You can. It takes some time to adjust, but if that’s a step you’re ready for, go for it. If not, try working up to it!
Another alternative is to simply cut down on how much meat you include in meals when you use it. Don’t have it be the main dish. Have it be a small part of a side dish. You can satisfy that urge to have meat while eating a meal that is overall better for you.
And of course remember to keep your kitchen eco friendly where possible. Try organic produce, eco friendly cookware and so forth for your health and to be kind to the environment.