Saturday, May 15, 2010

More Thoughts on Food Choices and Environmental Impact

Yesterday was a day of many frustrations, capped off by a lovely outing to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art (more on that tomorrow) and an early evening on Las Olas Boulevard, a trendy part of Fort Lauderdale. We ate tapas with our happy hour drinks at one restaurant, and then we moved to a French restaurant for champagne and French appetizers (Coquille St. Jacques, mopped up with crusty bread, washed down with champagne, with a pianist playing jazz standards in the background--heaven!--what I thought being a grown up would be!).

I was supposed to have a meeting at 10, but got bumped to 2:30. I wish I was the kind of person who just easily switched gears, but it takes me a bit of time. In my adjusting time, I picked up Mark Bittman's Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating. The ideas weren't exactly new to me. He talks about the environmental impact of our individual food choices. He's not just talking about the amount of fossil fuels it takes to ship our food to us. He goes back further and examines how much corn it takes to feed a cow, how much petroleum it takes to raise that corn, how much deforestation happens because we need feed crops.

He concludes a chapter thusly: "Livestock produce more greenhouse gas than the emissions caused by transportation or anything else except energy production. Add to this the humane and human health issues and one could easily and sensibly argue that it makes more sense to cut down on eating meat than it does to cut down on driving" (page 29).

He's not suggesting that we all become vegans. He's suggesting that we cut meat out of one or two meals a week.

For the most part, he is a strict vegan until 6 p.m., and then he gives himself permission to eat and drink whatever he wants. Often, he continues being a vegan, but he might have a thick steak and 3 glasses of wine. He might have chicken or fish. He might eat his fill of sushi. He says that he has noticed that he tends to frontload his dinners with lots of veggies, even if he's eating meat.

I like the idea of being a part-time vegan, even though I hear my 19 year old self howling about hypocrisy. I've been thinking about the idea of being a vegan after 6 p.m. I've been coming home from work and eating a lot of cheese to go with the red wine I've been drinking. I eat cheese thinking that it will take the place of dinner--but then I often have something more, often something with cheese, like the pizza we ordered the other day.

I'm eating more cheese than chocolate or other sweets; how did this happen? I don't have time to bake like I once did--that's how this happened.

I'd like to start making healthier choices, and for those of you who want a sensible guide to improving your nutritional intake, without too much sacrifice, this book is a great guide.

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