You’ve probably heard how America’s infatuation with beef isn’t the best for the environment. The burning of fossil fuels during food production and the emissions associated with livestock and animal waste contribute to our global warming problem. On the other hand, vegetarian diets seem to protect the environment, reducing pollution and emissions in our air and waterways.
If you’d like to adopt a greener diet, but aren’t ready to go total vegetarian, here are ten tips to help.
■ Adapt Your Favorite Recipes. If you just love your grandma’s recipe for beef casserole, try changing it a little. Add chicken instead, or fish, or eventually, even tofu or tempeh.
■ Meatless Monday. Choose one day a week to go meat-free, and use it to explore vegetarian options, like pasta, burritos (beans only), or vegetable stew.
■ Grow Your Own. Consider starting your own garden. Start small, with a 6’ x 6’ space. Vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and
onions are easiest to grow.
■ Go Local. It’s nice to get bananas year round, but trucking produce out of season puts more emissions into the air. Shop at your
local farmer’s markets and buy produce in season.
■ Pick Your Fish. Fish is great for the brain and the heart, but our penchant for some species is contributing to over-fishing. Some fish have proven to be sustainable, and others not so much. The Alaskan salmon fishery is well managed, but the albacore tuna industry has yet to prove sustainability. When choosing green, go for tilapia, wild salmon, Pacific halibut, and white sea bass, and avoid Chilean sea bass, swordfish, and ahi tuna.
■ Choose Green Beef. When you do eat meat, choose organic, chemical-free options. Look for beef labeled 100% grass-fed/finished.
■ Toss the Packaging. We love the convenience of packaged foods, but those packages end up heaped in our landfills, and they
require lots of energy to produce. Choose whole foods whenever you can and cut down on the boxes and bags.
■ Check the Label. In today’s supermarket, you’ll find more on the label than the nutrition facts. The USDA “certified organic” label means the product maintained organic integrity from farm to table. Others have eco-logos as well, which can signify a more sustainable product or process. Look carefully.
■ Buy Organic. Studies have shown that organic produce has fewer pesticides. Pesticides leak into our waterways, so cutting down on our demand for them can only contribute to a greener world.
■ Banish the Bottles. Those plastic bottles holding water take a lot of energy to make and ship, and are piling up in waste areas. Purchase a reusable bottle and use the tap—buy a filter if you want to be sure it’s free of chemicals.