Go "Meat-Free" to Save the Environment

Before I launch into what prompted this post, I feel I need to explain a little more about me. I am from Iowa. While I did not grow up on a farm, my mom did. Until about 15 years ago, my grandparents lived and worked their farm. I have a great understanding of what meat is and from whence it comes. I had a total understanding that the chicks we played with in the spring became the fried chicken we ate in the winter. I’ll save my stories about my mother’s cooking of various animal parts for another post.

In addition to my maternal grandparents, my dad was a hunter. In fact, for many years, I would go out with him just to sit in nature watching the sun rise or set. Many times during the winter, our meat came from the ducks and geese my dad shot. Given the socio-economic status of my folks, this meat was extremely important. A goose, for example, fed a family of 5 for several days. That’s a big deal when your parents are happy they have $20 to get through the week (food and gas included). But I digress.

Last disclosure – I am married to a vegetarian who became one in college after realizing that the Iowa land he loved was being wasted. My West Coast raised hubby was raised to believe that in Iowa, you could go into a field and eat the corn straight from the stalk. That the air was fresh and pure. The latter belief was quickly shattered when he drove by a pig farm one day. And the former belief was shattered by me – when I cautioned him against eating the cow and pig food from the field.

So, my point – my point, and I do have one, is that the latest position by Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was not surprising to me. The fact that 20% of greenhouse gases are related to the production of meat – not a surprise. Twenty years ago, you could get a nice manufacturing job to supplement your farm income or raise a family in town. Today, your choices are call center worker or hog confinement. Raising meat is big business. And now they are now importing their workers from Mexico or some other other near shore places like the halfway houses. And, all to raise the meat.

This was almost exactly why my hubby gave up meat. While going to school in Iowa, he looked around, saw some of the most fertile soil in the world, and could not fathom why we are wasting it to grow food for our food. In the end, he decided not to contribute to the problem by eating meat.

And, that was all in my little part of the world. PRI’s show “The World” did a great job summarizing the global issue. The stats about the US consumption of meat per year is pretty staggering when you compare it to other countries.

For me personally, this recommendation is nothing. I eat vegetarian about half of the time anyway as does my family. Meat is not a central staple. We are thankful we live in a location with an over abundance of veggie options. And, when I do eat meat, I buy local. I all but meet the cow or pig or chicken I am about to consume. And, I’m okay with that (especially after hearing my younger brother’s stories from the hog confinement where he was employed for about 9 months).

I don’t hate farming. I just hate what it has become. My grandpa will tell you that he can no longer farm as he feels you would need a chemistry degree. The days where you kept a few cows for personal consumption and spread their manure in the fields are pretty much gone. Now, you need to use these fertilizers and chemicals on certain types of corn seed. It’s a different way of thinking – and one that likely isn’t helping the global warning issue.

Cut your consumption of meat, help the environment. And, maybe we can reuse that land for veggies. I especially miss the Iowa sweet corn. Or grow Edamame soybeans and export them to Asia. We know we can grow lots of them.

What do you think?