Monday, January 28, 2008

Minimalizing meat consumption

Interesting article by Mark Bittman (the "minimalist") about meat consumption in the Times yesterday. I don't think I'm anywhere near the level of meat consumption as the average American -- generally speaking I only have meat in one of my meals a day (excluding dairy and eggs), but I was glad that at lunch today, immediately before reading this article, I only ate half of my salmon.

Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources.

I've been thinking recently about what I can do to be healthier and to be gentler on our environment. I of course knew that meat consumption was especially bad, in a variety of ways, but this was another reminder. It's not like I need to add another item to my list of New Year's resolutions, but as part of my "greener" and healthier 2008, I've thought that perhaps I should adapt more natural food habits. Meaning something akin to Michael Pollan's 12 Commandments for Serious Eaters. There are definitely some arguments to be made about the wording or general-ness of some of his commandments, but I'm thinking especially hard about the ones in bold, below:

1. "Don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

2. "Avoid foods containing ingredients you can't pronounce."

3. "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot."

4. "Avoid food products that carry health claims."

5. "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket; stay out of the middle."

6. "Better yet, buy food somewhere else: the farmers' market or CSA."

7. "Pay more, eat less."

8. "Eat a wide variety of species."

9. "Eat food from animals that eat grass."

10. "Cook, and if you can, grow some of your own food."

11. "Eat meals and eat them only at tables."

12. "Eat deliberately, with other people whenever possible, and always with pleasure."

I had a moment last week when, for dinner, I ate a bowl of ramen. Not the kind that comes in the baggie, but one of those Simply Thai noodle bowls. I did it because I wanted hot soupy things (and I'm in pho withdrawal at the moment). But I almost threw it out instead of eating it, because I feel like I should just be eating natural, unprocessed foods, even if it ends up being, like my dinner yesterday, less of an organized meal and more of a weird combination of things. (Yesterday I ate a sweet potato, green beans, and tomato soup, since that's all I had. But it's healthy, right?) So perhaps I will go with that. Any advice on how to do that in my runaround, single eater world is very welcome!


el super said...

these commandments are actually really similar to what the homeopathic books i'm reading talk about. isn't it funny how peopel say the same thing all the time and we never listen.

Anyways i find that
a) making things in advanced when you feel like cooking like ona sunday is really easy thus when you are hungry you always have something on hand
b) Tofu is super easy to make and takes like 5 minutes weather you boil it or grill it.
c) having frozen veggies is also super easy to do since they literally take 3 minutes blanched in hot water to cook. my favorites are teh "green with envy" mix from trader joes. Also adding some frozen spinach is good cuz it has no taste but it's like healthful and shit
d) make lots of soups. like i mean hot chicken broth or miso broth with any variety of vegetables will take you about 10 mintues and will be quite filling
3) i also makes lots of legumes like pinto beans, lentils, and mung beans and just leave them boiling on low and they last for like 4 days.

i mean this my advice, but my meals are usually pretty weird. like your random sweet potato meal sounded totally normal to me.

i also snack on rye crisps and nuts and fruits. i mean i guess the point is to just fill yoru hosue with these things because regardless of weather you are cravign them you will eat them. and teh problem comes when you have the other things on hand and so you crave anything and you end up eating the crap.

el super said...

i really need to start spell checking. i wrote "weather" twice instead of whether. yes emily's readings...i went to stanford and am an idiot