Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Summary of NO MEAT Month

So, I kind of made it through the month of September without incorporating meat into my diet. I know some people think I cheated since I ate eggs and they debate that they are meat, but until they get their Registered Dietitian's licensure, they can basically suck it. I am going to break this into a few categories as there is so much concept in this process that needs to be somewhat organized.

The Math ~ These facts can stand on their own. They do not need to be supported by any nutrition information whatsoever, it's all math and science. HA!

In order to produce one pound of edible meat (without bone, etc.), approximately 5,000 gallons of water must be used. Therefore, you could say that you could either shower for a year or eat a pound of meat. If I were to eat an average of three servings of meat a day (not counting fish, obviously), that would be nine ounces of meat. Therefore over 30 days, that would be approximately 17 pounds of meat, which equals 85,000 gallons of water, or 17 years of showering. Compare it to 25 gallons for the production of one pound of grain. Replace my 17 pounds of meat with 17 pounds of grain and you only net 425 gallons of water in production. In a water conscious world (which is what we should be living in, forget oil), meat consumption should plummet. Don't even get me started on the the CO2 savings here. People, get educated! It's in the numbers.

Here's another number: 149 lbs. (67.7 kg.). This is my weight at the beginning of September. Having recently fractured my skull, I gained a few pounds not being able to work out and I maintain that a quick way to shed some of that weight is to drop meat from your diet. People assume that being turned into a carboholic will keep that weight on, but that did not seem to be the case. I went from eating pasta once every 2-3 weeks to sometimes twice a day. I still don't really like potatoes or bread, but because I was making things for Andrew, I had quite a bit myself. And we went through a straight liter of olive oil in 30 days. And I lost almost 6 pounds (4% of body weight), and trust that I have been doing about nada in the exercise department. There are pants being brought out of storage.

What Worked?
  • It was a Godsend that this month was a great harvest month for the Greenmarket in the New York Metro area. There is literally no reason that you should be without vegetable choices since they are all around the city and have plenty of options. Luckily, I am schooled in doing more than making salads, although I have to say, those were some good heirloom-type salads I had.
  • Debbie Meyer Green Bags! These things work on the simplest concept that the bags are treated to wick away that pesky ethylene, a chemical compound which hastens the ripening of fruits and vegetables. These bags allow your vegetables to last so much longer! Totally worth it and at your local Tarjay.
  • Cooking Light has long been one of my favourite magazines for recipes. I am much more visual a learner than any other sort, so their having photographs to accompany their recipes is a huge help! I am letting my subscription go as it is a waste of paper seeing as their site has all their recipes in their database. I know that website aren't run on unicorn farts and rainbows, but still...less wasteful. I look something up at least once a week on there...pickles, potato salad, you name it.
  • I may have fell more in love with Morningstar Farms fake meat (analogs). I know they are a company pretending to be small and cute and organic when they are really just a subsidiary of Kellogg Company, but they do have some tasty stuff that fills in the gaps where meat would have otherwise likely been the option du jour. Given better selections of meat analogs, I would hope to find a less corporate producer. Drop another scoop in the moral chore bucket.
  • Andrew also gave up meat this month. His agenda was not the same as mine, but it is easier when the kid you are sharing the table with is not heffing back a slab of ribs or two dozen ribs. Trust.

What Didn't Work?
  • I think the first big problem with NO MEAT month for me was that it coincided with the beginning of the fall semester for grad school and for the rugby season. I just did not often make the effort due to a lack of time or a lack of energy to make as many meals as I really should have. And then once I ran out of Easy Mac....
  • My worm box died while I was on vacation. This made me feel kind of like a total wastoid for just throwing out my organic waste and once again made me want to move to San Francisco where the municipal garbage service picks up compost materials for you. Geez, Bloomberg, why don't you get on it.
  • My friends are kind of dicks. I think that it is largely American hubris that people think their ways of living are superior to other people's or that they should be shooting off their opinions on anything. I do often pass judgment on what people eat as a function of being an R.D. but at the same time, it is likely solicited. Let's just say, there are people I think less of now with their "But meat is good, " and their "You're such a hippie." No, I am just brighter, more principled, and better educated than you.
  • Living in the ghetto is in no way food friendly. The "grocery" stores here maintain very little edible produce (even less edible meat to be honest) and are only good for packaged basic foods. Tragic. We wonder why diabetes is rampant...even outside of personal accountablity. But I guess I would never invest in this neighborhood given the chance either to be honest. Damn.
  • Vegetables are actually more expensive than meat. This is such a mindfuck of a concept. They take far less cost of production, water, labor, etc. This is truly sad and wrong.
  • Companies need to be more straightforward in their packaging. When I pick up a can of vegetable soup...I want it to be all vegetables. I don't want to have it already in the pan heating and then read the label and find a meat composite somewhere down the line of the ingredient list. Bad Progresso, bad!!

What did I miss?
  • Maruchan Instant Lunch Chicken Ramen cups
  • hot wings (Largely, with Poon at the Lion's Head. I should have taken rugby and football seasons into account here, clearly.)
  • PD II's ribs (Doubtful would I miss any other ribs or any other rib sauce.)
  • shrimp (Now not to be eaten since they are on the don't buy list. Thanks Monterrey Bay Aquarium!!)
  • sushi (Sweet lord in heaven did I have a problem with this. Maybe it was my body trying to react to the mercury shortage in my system? Although sweet potato tempura rolls are acceptable, I guess.)
In summary, I will resume eating sustainably farmed/fished animal sources. Yes, this will mean a little more work on my part, more questions asked, etc. I will likely have one serving a week of the following: poultry, red meat, fish. Andrew has decided he will bring back fish, occasional poultry, and no red meat. Every few months we will go back to lactoovovegetarian status for a month or two to detox ourselves and feel less like all the other self-centered people polluting the earth so they can have a cheap cheeseburger.

~beth who thinks people should eat to live rather than eat to pollute...


Emy said...

Well done, manx! I tried to play along at home, and kind of succeeded... I fell off the wagon with sushi once and with instant lunch... um, more than once. Will of iron, yours!

Emy said...

Well done, manx! I tried to play along at home, but fell off the wagon once with sushi and with instant lunch... um, more than once... Iron will, lady!