Tag Archives: meat

Build Healthy Habits for Yourself, Your Family and the Environment

How active are you? Are you trying to get more active? And what about your eating habits? Ready to improve them?

Your own health should be a great motivator for having healthy habits. But if you need a little more motivation, think about how healthy habits will impact your family and benefit the environment as well.

Healthy Eating Habits

Here in the United States, most of us eat way too much meat for our health. Average meat consumption has gone up significantly in recent decades.

This doesn’t just effect your health. It effects your family and the environment.

The effect on you can be in terms of increased weight, high cholesterol and other health problems. As you probably mostly eat together as a family, these problems can potentially effect your children down the line as well.

Meat has a high environmental cost too. It takes land, water and food to raise meat animals. Their food must be grown, which means still land and water use, and most often pesticides and chemical fertilizers as well.

Eating less meat or cutting it out entirely means that the impact of your eating habits on the environment is less. It often means you’re eating healthier foods as well. That means you’re probably also teaching your family better eating habits.

Certainly there are ways to have unhealthy eating habits without meat, but if you are conscious about what you’re eating in general you’ll develop good habits.

Try growing a garden or buying your produce from a co-op, CSA or at the farmer’s market. Get lots of fresh produce into your diet. Fresh produce is very different from produce that was picked too early to make it to the supermarket.

Eco Friendly Fitness Habits

Getting fit doesn’t have to take place just in the gym. It’s a lot more fun to do some exercises outdoors.

Most gyms aren’t precisely environmentally friendly. There’s a benefit to using gear that is used by others rather than having a home gym certainly, but gyms use other resources as well, such as water and electricity. Most don’t have a focus on keeping things at all green. It’s about exercise.

Find a good place in your area to walk, ride a bike, go hiking and so forth. Some communities even have fitness routes set up with stations to help you with basic exercises.

Exercising outside has a lot of advantages. It’s essentially free. You can take the kids along if you like for no extra charge. You don’t have to feel as though you’re the least fit in the area. You probably won’t have to wait in line to do any part of your workout. And of course you can find a truly beautiful place to exercise. There’s nothing like building an appreciation for nature as you get fit.

Why Not Try to Eat Less Meat?

Cutting back meat consumption can be a difficult thing to do, at least in the United States. Eating meat is so much a part of how I was raised that it’s really hard to break the habit or slow it down. But there are a lot of good reasons to do so.

1. Better for your grocery bill.

This is a reason that many of us can get on board with these days. Beans, lentils, brown rice, barley and so forth cost much less than meat and are great sources of protein. They’re also nicely filling. All you have to do is learn to cook them in ways you enjoy.

2. Better for the environment.

Another great reason, even if it’s less of a motivator for many people who are far more concerned with their budget. Grains have a much lower environmental impact than meat. Animals eat a lot of grain, but the amount of meat you get from them is much less.

You will also significantly cut your carbon footprint. Meat production overall is very hard on the environment.

3. Less handling of raw meat.

While the big salmonella stories recently have related to foods such as spinach, the mishandling of raw meat is a very common source of food poisoning. Just think of how quickly you reach the ‘use by’ date of any meats you buy, versus how long grains last. A part of the food poisoning risk with meat is how fast germs can grow in it.

4. How many farm animals are treated.

If the ethics worry you, then the treatment of farm animals is a big deal. There are farms that treat their animals far better than the factory farms that produce the more affordable meats. And of course there are all the hormones and antibiotics used on factory farm animals.

5. It can be healthier.

This one really depends on you. It’s possible to eat unhealthy without meat, but if you’re trying to eat well and eat less meat, it’s pretty healthy. You’ll probably have less fat in your diet, for one thing. You can cut the odds of getting many health problems simply by eating less meat. It’s not a guarantee, just lower odds.

If you want to cut back on meat but still like to have it every day, just work on how you serve it. Go heavy on the vegetables when you stir fry, for example. I’ve found chopping the meat into pieces can make it look as though there’s more on my plate as well, so I eat less of it.

You can also try just having meat no more than once a day. I enjoy vegetarian lunches many days, and just rarely take the time for any meats with breakfast. I don’t miss it most of the time.

Plan regular vegetarian dinners too. My husband isn’t much of a fan of vegetarian meals, but I have some recipes he enjoys well enough, despite his regular suggestions of meats I could add in “to make it better.” He eats them, so that’s good enough. My kids aren’t big meat eaters, so some vegetarian meals go down much faster that ones featuring meat.

It’s really not as hard as it seems to cut back on meat. Just pick steps that you are comfortable with and go from there.