meat me in the middle

25 03 2008

I’ve been putting off writing this post since I started HPD. It usually makes people uncomfortable. So what, you say? Well, the problem with making people uncomfortable is that you risk alienating them. And it seems to me that alienating people is hardly a good way to achieve your goals. So the challenge is to walk that perfect line. Here I go:

A lot of people who have jumped on the local food bandwagon do so because they’re motivated to reduce their carbon footprint. I wonder though how many of them stop to think about the types of foods they are eating. Our carbon footprints are determined not just by where our food comes from, but also from what we choose to eat.

If you asked most people to describe a well-balanced meal, I’d be willing to bet that 95% of them would include meat as part of their reply. Meat is not the best choice though if you care about your carbon footprint. In November 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published a report stating that the livestock sector creates more carbon emissions than transportation. But why isn’t anyone talking about this?

Dietary changes, such as vegetarianism and veganism, push us out of our comfort zone a lot more than simply shifting who we source our food from. It’s easy to walk by the South African apples in the grocery store, because you know you’re not denying yourself anything. You can get good apples at the local orchard. But giving up something? For most people, that’s a different story altogether. If you’re not ready to give up meat, perhaps you can start thinking of it as a treat, rather than a staple. This treat mentality could do a lot to change your footprint.

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8 responses

26 03 2008
hyd

hi there! thanks for leaving a comment. now i’ve come to visit you and have discovered a super blog, added to my google reader. it’s true i’ll miss the city but i think it will be just as you say: a quick in and out will be enough to satisfy. i grew up in the ottawa valley so it’s nice to read you. the sustainable, enviromentally-aware diet is on my agenda as well… tho i’ve yet to pare down to eating local. soon i hope. i’ve been doing “vegan at home” (and vegetarian in the world) for the past few years and i’m happy with that. looking forward to more of your wisdom. take care.

26 03 2008
gillian

We all make the steps that we can, right? I think that’s awesome that you’re doing a vegan at home diet. I’ve been trying to up my vegan repertoire in the past few years. I don’t know if I will ever make it to 100% veganism but who knows? The point is to TRY – with everything.
🙂

26 03 2008
hyd

nice! i think if you’re already vegetarian, the transition’s not too hard. i thought i would have a difficult time eliminating cheese but found once i stopped eating it, i no longer craved it. and you just come up with new staple recipes that feel normal after awhile (muffins, scrambled tofu and homefries, sandwiches, salads, soups, curries, tacos, burritos, stir-frys…mmm). tho my days of fancy groceries like tofurkey slices and vege pate, as well as great toronto eats like falofels and rotis, are nearing an end as i’m leaving the city so i’ll have to get more creative!

26 03 2008
27 03 2008
Deborah

I’m one of those who would find it really hard to give up meat but I fully agree with you that making it a treat is no hardship. The meat and 2 veg idea everyday isn’t, in my opinion, the best thing. I love vegetarian food and am quite happy to base my meals around them but I do also like the occasional meat dish.

It’s interesting that in the UK there has been a campaign to stop people buying intensively reared chicken and to purchase free range or organic instead and many people professed to be happy to forgo meat in some meals in order to buy the better quality(humanely raised) chickens instead.

27 03 2008
gillian

I didn’t know about that, Deborah. I’m always surprised that there isn’t more of a movement to do so here in Canada. I think most people know that animals are rarely treated well on the farm. When I think about what goes into cattle feed it makes my stomach turn. But I don’t blame the farmers – it’s extremely hard for most of them to keep the farm going on the money they make. I blame consumers for choosing lower-priced meat over the free-range chickens or grass-fed cattle.

If we create the market, farmers will change their practices!

31 03 2008
sammyqc

Hi there. It’s nice to find another local gardening blog.

I’ve been really playing with the idea of meat as a treat, rather than the focus of the meal. While there are some good farms out there, where you can actually even meet your cow (if you are going to buy in bulk, and do that whole freezer thing) and see how the animals are raised, etc…it’s not practical for everyone. And it is more expensive than cheap cuts at the super market.
But having tasted organic chicken, and organic beef, the difference is remarkable.
Going vegan, or vegetarian is another option, but not for me. I did it for a few years, and I stopped, because I craved meat. I just could not do it. But if you can find animals that are humanely treated, and slaughtered, then I don’t think meat consumption is such a bad thing. And there are places out there. You just have to look. And maybe find another family with a freezer willing to share a cow.
But it is not the farmers, it is the strict provincial laws that regulate what farmers can do, and the advantage is always to the big industrial producers.
You can’t buy a butchered chicken or turkey from a local farmer, it must be butchered in a provincially approved slaughterhouse (horrorhouse for chickens, hogs, cows, turkeys). The system is set up to drive out the little farmer, and help the big industrial farms.

There needs to be a change, not only with the consumers, but with the producers and the rules that govern them.

1 04 2008
gillian

Sammy, you touched on an issue close to my heart – humane treatment of animals. I’m sure that many people would think the following statement is cold-hearted but I find myself more disturbed when I hear about animal abuse than when I hear about people engaging in a war. I don’t know why I react this way but I feel like I can’t help it, or that it’s bigger than me. I don’t know.

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