Emily Cristobal’s New Year’s Resolution is to cut back on how much meat she consumes - particularly red meat. If you, too, are looking for a way to improve your own health and that of the environment, take a look and see if cutting back on meat could be right for you!
With the first week of the new year coming to an end, I decided to embark on my goal of eating less meat. Having grown up eating meat, this task was definitely daunting. I wondered, “How could I give up something that is so ingrained in the cooking that I grew up with?”
Well for starters, in order to crack down on these doubts and issues, I told myself that I would start small. Instead of cutting out meat altogether, I instead chose to cut down my meat consumption. Although that may sound like the same thing, the difference is seen with the use of the word “out” versus “down,” not completely but rather little by little.
In my goal of eating less meat, I wanted to start with cutting down my intake of red meat, which includes beef and pork. This meant that I could no longer excessively indulge in my dad’s barbeque steak seasoned with salt, black pepper, and chili flakes and I had to refrain from eating too much of the local Hawaiian and Filipino dishes such as Kalua pig (smoked and shredded pork often served with cabbage and rice) and lechon (a whole roasted pig, which is intimidating to look at but the meat is so moist and the skin is crispy).
I decided to try to cut down my meat consumption not only because of its health benefits, but also because of its environmental benefits.
It is known that the reason why we eat meat is to provide our bodies with protein, however there are other sources of food that yield protein and are much healthier. These foods include beans, lentils, vegetables and whole grains. These alternative protein foods are also often cheaper than the cost of meat. Eating foods that are more plant-based (fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, and nuts) are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic states that research shows that people who eat red meat “are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes.” Those who don’t eat meat generally eat fewer calories, resulting in the “lessening of fat, weighing less, and having a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.”
Environmental benefits such as reducing greenhouse gas productions and not encouraging animal cruelty is also tied to cutting down on meat consumption. Studies have shown that “animal agriculture is estimated to produce more greenhouse gases than the whole of the transportation industry combined” (mindbodygreen.com). Cows also produce a lot of methane, which is one of the worst greenhouse gases that leads to global warming and climate change in general. The process of growing an animal ready to slaughter not only costs a lot of money and energy because of the required food, housing structures, and transportation, but the way that these animals are raised is also completely inhumane. If we all cut down the amount of meat we eat (buying less meat at grocery stores), we can send a message to the agricultural market that humans do not need to eat the current number of slaughtered animals to survive and that these companies need to improve their ways of raising animals to be more humane.
In the process of trying to reduce meat in my meals, I chose to cook a couple of dishes. Some of the meals that I started to cook in order to eat less meat was substituting tofu with chicken in stirfrys of red bell peppers, carrots, and green beans, using soy sauce for flavor. I also ate vegetarian chili with kidney beans, squash, carrots, and tomatoes. These meals were pretty simple to make and tasted just as good without meat. In making and tasting these dishes, I realized the importance of seasoning and how it can make or break a meal.
Overall, I think that cutting down on your meat consumption in this new year is not only the healthier and more environmentally-friendly choice but it also saves you a little money to spend on other New Year’s Resolutions… perhaps a gym membership?
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