My new health initiative is to cut down my intake of meat to half a pound or less a week. I’m not a vegetarian; I love meat. Chicken, steak, pork, you name it, I love it. I also do love animals but I’m not some animal activist complaining about the horrid conditions animals are put through to give us a delicious meal (although it really is so devastatingly sad and horrible). This decision is spurred by a completely different issue entirely. I am doing this to do my part in securing a better, safer future for the Earth and the human race.
WELL THAT’S DRAMATIC, ISN’T IT?
It does seem like a very bold statement, but its backed by strong logic. Before I even begin, I do not claim to be some food genius or to have the crazy ability to foresee future world complications; many of these thoughts were spurred by a “Chew on This” Ted Talk video I watched recently on Netflix (It’s episode #3 “Mark Bittman on What’s Wrong with What We Eat”). If you haven’t seen this, you should really take a second and watch it, it’s only 18 minutes long. Mark does a much better job at explaining what I’m about to relay to you, I guarantee it.
Anyway, I could throw a bunch of facts and figures at you but the reality is that land associated with agriculture takes up at least a third of the land area of our planet. Agriculture completely ruins the land and ecosystems that it takes over, so it has a very physically damaging effect on the earth. Also, agriculture results in extremely high greenhouse gas emissions, far more so than travel. Basically, the large scale of agriculture we have now is damaging just about every part of the world in some way. With the global population skyrocketing, the land used for agriculture is supposed to increase at extremely high rates.
Also, Americans especially have become accustomed to a diet based around the consumption of meat and dairy, which is just downright unhealthy. The average American eats 5 pounds of meat a week. If you don’t believe me, think about what you ate this past week. It will make you cringe. There is a reason Americans have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world, among other diseases, and it’s due to our unhealthy diets.
(This is like the shortest summary in the world describing the problems that agriculture causes. If you want more information, watch that video I mentioned and use Google as a resource. It’s staggering to look at the statistics and realize how much agriculture really is ruining everything. Big business will do anything for money.)
SO HOW DO WE FIX THIS?
At this stage in the game, we have dug ourselves a pretty deep hole. We are trashing the Earth we live on day by day by over consumption and waste. The only way we are going to turn this thing around is by starting a movement to get individuals to start changing their eating habits. It all starts from the individual. Every single person makes decisions that influence the future of our species and the Earth, and if we can get people to start making more responsible decisions, we can clean up this mess. If everyone just cut their intake of meat and dairy in half, we would be well on our way to reducing land used for agriculture, which in turn would reduce green house gas emissions, and causing people to be healthier all in one fell swoop. It’s a huge domino effect, and right now the dominoes are falling in the wrong direction.
Let me paint you a picture. If we don’t start individually acting on issues like these, life as we know it will be over soon. With the population booming, there is going to be a higher demand for food and water. That means agriculture will take over the planet, destroying the environment willy nilly. Soon our planet will be overpopulated, with too many mouths to feed and not enough resources to quench the demand. This will lead to wars over fresh water and real food, like garden fresh vegetables. The governments will have to take control due to the surging population and desperation of people. It will be a mess.
That may be a bit of a stretch but it’s not an impossibility. We have many challenges ahead of us as a species and I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I have the answers. I just know that I will do anything I can to make the situation a little better. Not eating six pounds a week will be considerably easier than a future generation having to kill to get a drink of water.
Join me in the challenge to eat less than half a pound of meat a week! In the process, you’ll have to fill yourself with something, and this would be prime opportunity to start eating healthier. Next week I will show you how I’m adjusting my diet to make up for the 5 pounds of meat I am not consuming.