“HOW CAN YOU NOT EAT MEAT?”

(8-10 minute read)

“Your choice of diet can influence your long term health prospects more than any other action you might take.” – Former Surgeon General C. Everett Coop

We all grow up eating things based on what is served in our house. Our parents try their best to feed us home cooked nutritious meals more times than on the go meals out. I can remember the standard three item meal every night from the time I was young until I moved out.

1. Meat
2. Pasta/Potato/Rice/Bread etc.
3. Vegetables

Sounds balanced and whole right? Point being, I ate meat every single day from the time that I was probably a toddler to when I was 19. To meat eaters, this may not sound so bad. To a more plant based person, this could sound disastrous. I am here to tell you that everyone has opinions on food and diet related topics. Bottom line, education and science matter over most things, especially what I am discussing today. It’s up to you if you want to believe and apply it to your life or not. I’m just excited to have a platform where I can share my experience and you can take what you want from it!

I never thought twice about consuming meat throughout my life. What we eat very quickly becomes mindless. Never turning down my mom’s cooking, or a slice of free pepperoni pizza, or eating a quick McChicken (that last one is shocking for me to even think about now). I knew about vegetarian and vegan diets and always wondered the same question on top of this post, “how can you not eat meat?” which is something I get asked all the time. I’d be lying if I said the inquiry doesn’t irritate me slightly, but I respect questions as I am a heavily pondering person myself.

So what changed for me? Why did I have this sudden interest to maybe think about eating less meat? I can think of two things that really influenced my decision to start cutting it out in the beginning.

  • My roommate at the time, Emily (you can find her @emjmfit on Instagram) had been a vegetarian for about a year and a half at this point. Seeing that she could do it made me feel like I could too. She was the only person in my life at the time that made the switch so she was a piece of inspiration!
  • Documentaries that scared the HELL out of me when it came to meat filled diets and their impact on our bodies, mass meat farming and it’s effects on the environment and how terrible the animals were treated at larger scaled farms.

I started by cutting out red meats, then chicken, then seafood – completely. Here I was not eating meat at all within just a few months and I felt damn good about it. I became a Morning Star queen and I find it funny now because there are sooo many options out there that taste much better in regards to meat alternatives. I am trying to eat a little less of the frozen alternatives because almost all of them (with the exception of Quorn, Dr.Prager’s, Hilary’s, Beyond Meat, and a few others) contain soy and there’s soy in so much stuff we eat anyways – you almost don’t even know it’s there unless you read labels. One very important thing that came from this new food journey was the completely consuming desire to be more exploratory with cooking. I felt more clear headed, creative at times, physically less sluggish and even more compassionate. Eating a healthful and mindful diet takes work at first but why would you not owe it to your body, the animals, and the planet to do so?

So how can I not eat meat?

*Disclaimer*
I recently started eating salmon 2-3 times a month for a reason I can’t quite back up, but I am doing it. My body craves it with every fiber of my being sometimes, and I am a big supporter of listening to your body. I plan on cutting it out again but situations like this one are a big reason why the vegetarian label does not always resonate with me – sometimes I’ll eat animal products. I try to be gentle with myself and remind myself that this is way better than eating meat multiple times a day for years. Moving on!

↓ THREE BIG REASONS ↓

THE ENVIRONMENT

Scary, scary times my friends. Mass meat lots and livestock farming are some of the biggest contributors to pollutants to the land, air, atmosphere (you get the idea) and users of water out there. There is staggering evidence that shows this and is not even worth arguing. Despite the defense narrative that The Beef Cattle Research Council is supporting, they have some of the most recent numbers to date on how much water in used in production of beef. The BCRC states that for one pound of beef from the ‘pasture-to-plate journey’ there is 1,910 gallons of water used. The subcategories beneath the water content umbrella are blue, green and gray. Blue ➝ “ground water to water cattle, make fertilizer, irrigate pastures and crops, process beef,” green ➝ “how much rain water falls on pasture and feed crops,” and gray ➝ “how much water is needed to dilute runoff from feed crops, pastures and cattle operations.” Beef production is not the only culprit when it comes to unnecessary sounding amounts of water for production, other things use up water in their growth process too. I wanted to show a chart of water used for crops vs animals. Although a bit dated, it still provides a nice break down. Clearly the water use numbers for animal meat production are what we need to bring into our awareness here, as the difference is rather large.

We cannot forget about deforestation as an act that goes hand in hand with the demands of the animal agriculture business. The Rainforest Partnership indicates that “beef is still the primary reason for cutting down the forest,” whether it be for pastures or to grow feed for hungry cattle. Nearly 25 million hectares in Brazil at the time of this article were used to grow soy, “80 percent of which would end up as animal feed.” Just to rattle you up a little, one hectare = 2.47 acres = 107,593.2 sq ft
– That’s 61,750,000 total acres for feed alone –
YIKES.

MY RIGHTS TO MY BODY

As someone who is has a constant underlying feeling of anxiety at all times, I get a little freaked out when people scrutinize my choices when it comes to my body. (I’m already doing that and I will ask for your opinion if I want it.) I don’t owe an explanation to anyone (as do you!) but I wanted to head on debunk a concern that gets brought to my attention often. Everyone’s first assumption is that I don’t get enough protein on a daily basis. Here’s an average day of eating for me and my protein intake.

BREAKFAST
2 eggs: 12g
1 cup of kale: 2.9g
1 cup of mushrooms: 2.2g
1 slice of cheese (varies): around 7g
1 banana: 1.3 g
1-2 pieces of oat nut bread: 4-8g

SNACKS
(throughout the day):
apple with 2-3 tbsp of peanut butter: 8-12g
1 Chobani flip yogurt: 12 g
1 RX bar: 12 g

LUNCH
1/2 cup of Banza pasta: around 28g
1/2 cup of Prego farmers market red sauce: 4g
1 chopped zucchini: 2.4g
1 Hilary’s veggie burger: 4g
1/2 avocado: 2g

DINNER
1 cup of cooked, chopped sweet potato: 4g
1 cup of cooked broccoli: 2.6g
3/4 cup of chickpeas: 11g
1 cup of cooked quinoa: 8g
3 cups of spinach: 2.6 g
2 tbsp of tahini: 5g
2 tbsp of nutritional yeast: 7.6 g

I completed a quick DRI Calculation, (Dietary Reference Intake) and based on my information, the suggested daily amount of protein I should be getting is 60g. My math here shows that I get around 145g on a good food filled day (which is nearly every day for me!) How much protein I get despite my lack of meat is not an issue with these numbers.

THE ANIMALS

I feel like this is pretty self explanatory. Ending an animal’s life is not something I could physically do myself, so why should I expect other people to do so for my benefit? Again, I know I probably sound a bit hypocritical with the fish thing, but I am aware of that and it works for me currently. It’s an interesting perspective to think about and is my most solid reminder when I get moments of considering to eat meat products again. I whole heartedly believe in ethical farmers who treat their animals with love and nurture their growth experience on this Earth. If something changes within me and the time comes where I start eating meat more consistently, I will 100% put my money where my mouth is and support local farmers. I encourage you to support local farmers that are professional and ethical with their practices over buying meat that comes from one of the few major meat processing companies. Shopping locally is great for your state’s economy and probably has a much less significant impact on the environment.

Here are a few Maine businesses and farmers that I shop from and trust personally and have also heard good things about from people in my community!

Raychell Libby + Jay Horne – Fervor Farm 📍Hollis, ME
The Farm Stand 📍South Portland, ME
Emery’s Meat & Produce 📍Gardiner, Brewer, Waterville ME
Maine-ly Poultry 📍 Warren, ME
(Farmers’ Markets all across the state!)

Thank you for reading this rollercoaster of a post. I am still trying to get the hang of feeling confident talking about the things I am passionate about and as this has an impact on my life daily, I consider this a big passion! As always, if you have any questions or comments – feel free to reach out!
love, Sav

RESOURCES MENTIONED AND ALL FACTS FROM:
1. http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/cattle-feed-water-use/
2. https://waterfootprint.org/en/water-footprint/product-water-footprint/water-footprint-crop-and-animal-products/
3. https://rainforestpartnership.org/the-beef-industry-and-deforestation/
4. https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dri-calculator/


Published by Savannah Perico

I am a 22 year old aspiring food maker, lover, and recipe creator. I am always whipping meals up in my little well lit kitchen in southern Maine. I am always trying to improve my culinary craft and do a better job at keeping track of my intuitive process while cooking so I can share recipes with those who are interested!

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