Meat Matters

by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director/CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

Vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, omnivore. We have a label for every type of eating preference these days. But it seems to me that sometimes we spend more time thinking about the label than the decision-making process behind it.

Last week’s release of the Environmental Working Group’s new “Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health,” showed how important it is to look at the physical—on ourselves, and our planet—repercussions of eating meat.

Especially for parents, the guide is eye opener. EWG found that most kids eat more meat than vegetables—as much as three times the recommended amount of protein each day.

And the organization found that because of the massive amounts of chemicals, food and water involved in conventional meat production today, just reducing your intake by a small amount can make a big difference. According to EWG, if your family simply skips meat and cheese for one day each week, the environmental impact would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks.

The study sums up what author and food activist Michael Pollan has been saying for years. As quoted by EWG, “The single most important thing any of us can do to shrink the environmental footprint of our eating is to cut back on our meat eating—doing so has a bigger impact than eating local or organic,” Pollan said.

Yet the food industry may choose to go in a different direction. Science 2.0 recently reported on a series of studies that may make it possible to grow meat in a lab—at little to no environmental cost.

Doesn’t it seem simpler just to embrace “Meatless Mondays”?