|Pigs in a CAFO|
Let's talk though, for a few minutes, about Meatless Mondays -- or more generally, about eating less meat. Regardless of whether you choose to eat less (or no) meat because you want to reduce your cholesterol, be nice to non-human animals, or shrink your carbon footprint, eating less meat is a kind thing to do for yourself and for the planet. The average American eats just shy of 200 pounds of meat per year. That's a lot of meat. And a lot of (mostly) corn* that meat is eating. And a lot of water used keeping that meat hydrated and it's living area clean.
So, even if you don't care to shrink your carbon footprint, reduce your cholesterol, or be kinder to the planet maybe, at least for now, it's a good idea to eat less meat because more than half the counties in the United States are disaster areas because of drought. Depending on who you choose to believe, between 441 (the beef industry) and 2,400 (PETA) gallons of water are used to produce each pound of meat. Let's settle on the number 1,800 gallons which is more or less the number that most (non-special interest) groups use.
To put that in perspective, a 1000** pound cow uses enough water to completely fill two Olympic sized swimming pools and partially fill a third.
That's a lot of water.
My housemate now, E, pretty much only eats meat when she goes out for a meal. This gets to the idea of meat as a treat, or meat as a condiment. Maybe, for you -- or your loved one -- it's time to think about just reducing meat consumption in different ways*** and opting for more sustainable options (like pasture-raised meat).
And as for the argument that sustainable options cost more. Well, yes. But study just came out that said that if we factor in the hidden costs of beef (it didn't address other meats as thoroughly), the average hamburger**** would cost $1.50 more. Most sustainable options are not subsidized (if you want smaller government, you shouldn't want subsidized food sources. Btw.) and also factor in the "true" costs of raising those animals.
|Black Angus on a Feed Lot|
*For animals raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
**This is an estimate for an average female black Angus, at butchering time, and does not account for the reduction in weight at hanging (i.e. - when viscera, etc has been removed), which apparently reduces the weight by about 62%
***Though I'd argue if you want a planet to live on -- or for the next generation, you stop making excuses and give up meat. It's an irresponsible choice in the way Americans (and others too, but American food habits are what I can speak to with authority) raise and consume meat animals and it's killing the planet.
****They chose burgers because the average American eat three burgers a week.