Meat and the environment

Today is Green Day, and we're being bombarded with Green Day Sales, reminders as to how Green this company or the other is, and so on. It's a big topic nowadays.

I feel that the things that we can do as individuals is getting increasingly muddy. For a while it seemed like biofuels were a solution, but now the huge demand for plant-based fuels may be causing serious food shortages. Food miles and locavorism may not be as clear cut a solution either. Michael Pollan says we should start growing our own vegetables, but that's not possible for a lot of people, for space or time reasons.

Is there something relatively easy we can do? Sort of. Meat has a huge carbon footprint, so eating less of it may do more than pretty much anything else in terms of slowing the process of global warming.

photo of meat, from iStockPhoto

When you see the photo above, what does it make you think of? Until a few years ago, I would have thought "Mmm, meat heaven!". Nowadays I'm not as enthusiastic. As I have gradually reduced the amount of meat in my diet, I've found that I enjoy meat less and less. As a matter of fact, the meat products that I do enjoy are ones that have been cooked or prepared in such a way that the essential meatiness of the meat is changed or masked. I still love things like sausages, ham and dried meats - and bacon, of course. When I cook meat, I prefer to use Asian or Japanese methods that mask the gaminess or meatiness. For example, I have a hard time dealing with roast pork with crisp crackling, the way people love to eat pork in Britain and some parts of Germany (it's a Franconian speciality). The pigginess of the meat is very assertive, and I can't enjoy it.

On the other hand if pork is prepared as _nibuta_, with aromatic vegetables, sake and mirin, I love it. And I eat far less of it at a meal than with a typical Western-oriented meal because it's so richly flavored.

If you're a dedicated meat lover, the idea of weaning yourself off it may be very difficult to contemplate. One way to do this fairly painlessly may be to switch to eating more Asian food, including Japanese, where meat is used more as a flavoring than the main star, and vegan protein sources have been incorporated as a matter of course for generations. And there's nothing wrong with an occasional steak or hamburger - just as long as it is occasional.

Something to think about perhaps.

* 75% vegetarian
* Time-tested vegan proteins

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