Are you among the 95 percent of Americans who do NOT eat strictly vegetarian or vegan? Have you ever thought about making the switch? Here’s an idea: eat meat only on the weekends. At 100 total points (50 in the Health category, 50 in Energy), this action is as impactful as Relying on nature for watering your lawn (100 Water points) or Reducing air travel to one trip or less per year (100 Energy points).
Why is this Green?
In 2010 the founder of Treehugger.com gave a TED talk about becoming a Weekday Vegetarian (see link below). The concept took off; it’s perfect for people who want to eat some meat, but also understand the personal, environmental, and even economic benefits of eating vegetarian. And with dishes like the ones we picture here, you’ll never feel deprived.
The average family of four consumes between 500 to 800 pounds of meat yearly. The global demand for meat has lead to an increase in factory farms. This mass production consumes enormous amounts of energy, pollutes the air and waterways, and requires increasing amounts of corn, soy, and other grains—often genetically modified and intensively sprayed with pesticides. This has led to the destruction of vast plots of the world’s tropical rain forests. There are many studies comparing vegetarian and meat-based diets. One often quoted stat: a meal of fruits, vegetables, and grains generates 24 times less greenhouse gas emissions than 6 ounces of conventionally raised beef. Meat from local, well-raised, or even organic animals also have an impact, albeit smaller.
Either don’t eat meat during the week or just try to eat vegetarian most of the time. Feast on all the amazing recipes readily available, such as the Mushroom Burgers with Almonds and Spinach shown below (recipe by Martha Rose Shulman; subscribe to her weekday email on NYTimes.com.)
If you’re eating conventionally produced dairy, you’re still involved with the factory farm system. Dairy from local, pastured animals—preferably organic– have a lighter footprint.
The health benefits of eating vegetarian depend on what you eat–processed packaged foods have fewer nutrients than whole foods. There has been some concern about the health effects of highly processed and genetically modified soy.
Spend what you save during the week on grass-fed and/or organic meat.