You’ve probably heard about the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism time and time again, and you probably have your reasons not to make the switch… “I need my protein. It might be unhealthy.” “Everyone in my family eats meat, so if I go veg it won’t make much of a difference.” “I just don’t want to give it up. I love the taste of meat.” But if you’re concerned about the environment, it could be time to consider going vegetarian. Becoming a vegetarian, a weekday vegetarian, or even just reducing your consumption of red meat is one of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprint and your ecological footprint. Elke Stehfest presented new numbers at the Copenhagen Climate Congress: you, yes you yourself, can help make a 70% dent in our impact on the earth. “If this transition of dietary norms was started in 2010 and completed by 2030, and that pasture and cropland was allowed to regrow as forest, it would soak up such large amounts of CO2 that, in combination with the resultant reduction of methane emissions due to the animals themselves, the costs of climate change mitigation would drop by 70% by 2050.” A simple thing such as not eating meat is a decision that can help you reduce your carbon footprint and fight climate change. Isn’t that empowering? Besides, the meat industry is very yucky these days along with a lot of the meat that is produced (have you seen Food Inc.?), so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to continue to take part in this corrupt industry as a consumer… let alone consume their meat. This leads to the health side of the argument: a new study shows that vegetarians are happier than our carnivorous friends. You might be surprised because this diet lacks omega-3s, which are important to physical and mental health, but Nutrition Journal’s study shows lower incidences of depression, anxiety, and other mood problems in vegetarians.
If you don’t want to go all the way, then cutting down your meat consumption to once or twice a week (our ancestors had it right – meat used to be a treat, not to mentioned raised and killed in the back yard) also makes a big difference. Help yourself and your world; just give it a shot.
If your interested, here are a couple websites about being a vegetarian.
And here are some tips and recipes if you want to be a weekday vegetarian or just eat ‘greener’
Katherine Crane, lenox unplugged Summer Intern