If we are what we eat then apparently most of us are cows. Last week Mario Batali weighed in on the surprising, horrifying and eye-opening Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health, a report compiled by the Environmental Working Group, analyzing data gathered from a variety of studies outlining the risks (both personal and environmental) associated with eating animal products. Mario is the undisputed king of Italian cuisine, and when he talks, I listen.
Yes, we know that the cost of eating beef is a large carbon footprint, but did you know that:
Eating beef generates twice the emissions of pork, 4 times that of chicken and 13 times that of vegetable matter;
Most emissions from animal products are generated in the production phase;
Cheese wheys in with the third highest emission rate. (This was a tough one for me, folks. I love cheese. In fact, if I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be cheese. Wine and bread would be the condiments.)
Further calculations revealed that if, over the course of one year, everyone in the US stopped eating animal products just one day a week, the effect on emissions would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
According to Mario, it’s not gonna happen. I have to agree that it unrealistic to expect the country that has been known to classify ketchup as a vegetable to adopt the vegan lifestyle for even one day per week. Additional measures to encourage more environmentally sensitive eating behaviors can and, in fact are being explored: higher taxes on environmentally harmful products, reducing or eliminating subsidies for such products, and increased public education. But it’s a complicated problem requiring a multi-pronged approach, and not susceptible to a quick fix.
Yes, it will take a village, a country, and the rest of the meat eating world to help solve this problem. But all journeys begin with a single step. Meatless Mondays can help make us mindful eaters by providing a weekly reminder that we have a responsibility to our community, the animals we raise, and the earth. Join King Mario (and me) by take the pledge to eliminate animal products from your diet on Mondays. In my house, Meatless (and, alas, Cheese-less) Mondays will be joining Farmstand Wednesdays in our weekly meal lineup. You can read the EWG’s report and take the pledge to go Meatless on Monday here: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/meateatersguide/
And Mario, if you are listening, I’m hoping your next cookbook will be a vegetarian one.
(Until then, here’s our Meatless Monday menu.)
Beluga lentil and pumpkin stew with pearl couscous
Roasted vegetable hummus with garlic-rubbed six grain bread