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Monday, September 27, 2010

What CAN You Do Today: Meatless Monday

   A few years ago, celebrities used to plug an idea; an idea that I've promoted for a long time. The concept- reduce your meat consumption by 15% by not consuming flesh foods just one day per week. Folks have various reasons why they opt to lower their intake of animal products, and I have a few of my own and because it's my blog I'm going to share with you 5 dandy reasons to eschew meat for one day per week.

#1 : Because It'll Save Your Ass, Dude

  Meat is loaded with protein and fat. Much of the fat in meat is saturated. The nations that have the highest meat consumption are very wealthy countries with fantastic health systems. Yet the countries that consume the most meat have the largest death rates from colon cancer in spite of all of these medical advances. In a study of more than 130,000 men on low-carb diets, the culprit became clear- the higher the meat consumption, the higher the cancer rate. Even knocking meat out once a week can lower your risk of crapping in a bag or napping in a box.

#2 : Because You Really Don't Need The Extra Protein Anyways

  We were all raised to believe that protein provides energy and builds muscles, and this is partially correct. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies, but protein itself is not an efficient source of energy. Excess protein is processed by the kidneys, meaning you pee it out. The calories in excess protein are not absorbed, and therefore not burned off when you exercise. Sounds pretty awesome, right?

  Well, not exactly. The human body only needs to have 4-10% of calories from protein. The protein product producers want you to think that you need 20% or more. We now have kids consuming diets that are up to 50% protein because they are taught that more protein translates into bigger muscles.
The excess goes to your kidneys, which become overworked leading to a host of problems ranging from urinary tract infections (meat also affects bodily Ph levels in a strange way) to organ failure. Give your kidneys a break and they'll be less likely to break.

#3 : Because You Like Bathing

  We're concerned about dwindling water supplies and the overall cost of water. If you're like me you probably have a water-saving showerhead and low-flow toilet. Torch-on roofers are being used as waterproofers to contain drought-resistant landscaping and installing roof systems that recycle water for gardens. We turn off the tap when brushing our teeth and fill the sink to wash our faces. We are far more aware of our water usage than our parents were.
  But the thing is those efforts are fantastic in theory, but they don't matter that much because what is draining our farmland is meat production.

  The amount of water required to get a single 16 ounce steak to your plate is identical to the amount the average person uses to shower... for an entire year. You read that correctly: 365 showers equals one T-Bone  . To use a food analogy, that steak is equal to almost 200 pounds of potatoes or 140 pounds of apples. That's a whole pile of latkes and applesauce.

#4 : Because You Don't Want To Drive A Prius

  Well maybe you still think your ride is rad, but at least it will be optional now. Why? Because cows alone are more ecologically damaging than cars. Think about it- cows require oodles of food , and that has to be planted, harvested, cleaned, packed, and shipped- all stages requiring fossil fuel. Then there's barns and slaughterhouses, cleaning up their mountains of manure, and refrigeration from the time of death until 5 seconds before that steak hits your grill. These things do not occur via magic- it requires energy to accomplish all of these things.

  So you buy locally, and that is awesome. You should absolutely purchase local produce as much as possible. But the critter still has to live and moo and eat and shit and fart, helping to produce more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. Drop meat for a day per week and you will have the same carbon impact as buying locally for the other 6 days of the week combined.

...another note about oil...

  The global oil supply is more than half gone, burned into the atmosphere; and when it is it cannot be replaced. The guys who make vast sums off of the high oil prices do not want you to reduce your meat and dairy consumption because that is how they make their money. Reducing demand for meat reduces demand for corn, soybeans, wheat, and oil. What does that mean to you? Lower prices.

 Which leads me to...

#5 : Because It'll Give The Dollar In Your Bank Account To Buy Some New Friends

  I hear it all of the time in the grocery store. People are really irritated with the high price of meat-  it costs a lot of money to get from a little calf to a big steer in a year, and those costs are transferred to the customer. (Not as much as they should because of farm subsidies, but that's another discussion.)
   Meat is expensive, and excessively so if you live in places that don't give huge breaks to factory farms. A typical Sunday roast will run you at least 20 bucks before you factor in the bacon and eggs for breakfast and corned beef on rye for lunch. Even at restaurants, the vegetarian meals are the cheapest.

  This is not some hippie conspiracy to make meat-eaters blow their budgets, but sound economics. Take the money you've saved over a year and take a vacation or sponsor a half-dozen of those kids from the commercials that make you cry. Discover a new hobby and the energy to be able to do it. If you've ever thought that you do not matter in the greater scheme of things, prove yourself wrong by changing just a little.

  Mondays are the easiest day to make new beginnings- it's a new week, all of last week's excuses and failures are in the past. Do one thing today and every Monday for yourself, your kids, and your future. The World will thank you for it.

Be Well.

P.S. : All of the food above cost less than $10 at a local market. Just thought I'd share that.

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