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."