The Kitchen Think: Why What You Eat Matters


Did you know that if your family skipped eating meat and cheese for only one day a week, the environmental benefit would be like taking your car off the road for 5 weeks?

That’s what the Environmental Working Group says in a new report that castigates Americans for their consumption of beef, pork, lamb and cheese. These are the same folks who tell you to limit cell phone usage, what sunscreens really work, and when you should buy organic fruits and veggies.

The EWG is like your neighbor who calls the police when your party gets a little loud. You know they’re right… you just wished they’d leave you alone.

Anyway, their latest report says most Americans consume more meat than vegetables and kids eat more than three times the recommended amount of protein… most of it from meat. And that kind of demand means cattle farms have to use ever-larger amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water… generating greenhouse gases, toxic manure and other pollutants that contaminate our air and water. It’s a vicious cycle.

Interestingly enough, the report doesn’t say to stop eating meat. It just suggests selecting grass-fed, organic and pasture-raised meat, eggs and dairy, instead—primarily because grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fat, higher in Omega 3s, vitamin E, beta carotene, B vitamins and certain nutrients that can lower cancer risk.

The report offers up some interesting suggestions for a greener planet and a healthier body:

• Eating one less burger every week → Like taking your car off the road for 320 miles
• 4-person family skipping steak once a week → Like taking your car off the road for 3 months
• If everyone in the U.S. ate NO meat or cheese once a week → Like taking 76 million cars off the road

I was surprised to learn that lamb has the greatest negative impact on our environment because producing it uses the most resources. Beef is second and cheese is third.

Why should you care about a report like this? Simple: Our national appetite for meat and cheese is taking a toll not only on our health, but on the environment, too. Even if everyone in this country became a vegetarian (taking 46 million cars off the road), it would only be a tiny step to reducing overall emissions.

So, if we can all back off the high-protein diet just a little bit, we’ll improve our health AND the environment. To meat-loving Mama, it’ll be tough, but I’m going to give it a try. I’ll keep you posted.




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  1. Pingback: Mama's High Strung™ » Blog Archive » Plated + Served: It’s World Veggie Day!

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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: