Home Cooking

Do We Eat Too Much Meat & Dairy? Obviously.

September 30 2011 - 3:42 PM

Waygu_meat This should come as no surprise to anyone. The American diet, and increasingly the global diet, is too meat/dairy focused. I have a really tough time thinking about a sit-down meal that doesn't revolve around a protein which would make up more than 50% of the bulk of the meal.

From brisket and Thanksgiving turkey to Bacon Double Cheeseburgers, cheesy pizza or meatball subs on the run, egg platters for breakfast, bowls of ice cream for dessert. We are thoroughly engaged in our meat and dairy. It's not healthy. There are studies done ad nauseum that corrolate diet to cancer risk and universally they demonstrate that there is a link. One such study "Meat Intake & Mortality" surveyed over half a million people and concludes that there is a link to "death". Not cancer, death. This includes heart failure and other illnesses we as a society assume are unavoidable. The study done in 2009 suggests that it would be avoidable.

It's also from a carbon footprint standpoint it's not sustainable. From BeefMagazine:

No longer a surprise is the relative energy intensity associated with meat, especially beef. For instance, roughly half of the GHG emissions due to human diets come from meat even though beef, pork and chicken together account for only about 14 per cent of what people eat.

From a climate perspective, beef is in a class by itself. It takes a lot of energy and other natural resources to produce cattle feed, manage the animals’ manure (a major emitter of methane, a potent GHG), get the livestock to market, slaughter the animals, process and package the meat, dispose of the greater part of the carcass that won’t be human food, market the retail cuts, transport them home from the store, refrigerate them until dinner time, and then cook the beef.

Tally the GHG emissions associated with all of those activities, Sonesson says, and you’ll find it’s the global-warming equivalent to spewing 19 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kg of beef served. Swine are more environmentally friendly. It only takes about 4.25 kg of CO2 to produce and fry each kg of pork.

A recent movie "Forks over Knives" really summed it up wonderfully. I have never seen the vegan diet presented pretty much without the ethical angle. It's even more powerful without it.

There is a gentleman I know who had been diagnosed with a severe type of cancer and switched to a vegan diet. He is still living and has far exceeded the life expectancy that many specialists had defined for him.

Finding the Forks Over Knives trailer let me to this. I had no idea that President Clinton became a vegan. The doctors he cites are the main subjects of the movie as well.

I guess if Clinton can do it so can I but my problem is that I love food and the cultural significance of it. I run a food site to boot and can you imagine how much less my sous vide machine will get used?

Not to mention a vegan diet leaves me… uncomfortable. That said I've spent tha past couple of weeks curbing the insane meat consumption and doing what Momofuku chef David Chang says… use meat to flavor dishes. Not be the mainstay. More often than not I have left the meat out entirely and focused on rice, onions, tofu, spinach, bok choy, nuts, fruit, beans, barley, steel cut oats, sprouted breads, quinoa and frankly it's fun to cook and eat. It tastes great and it's different. I'll get some recipes going soon. All suggestions are welcome.

Next month also I'll be getting into lacto fermentation! Make me some cheese from something other than dairy.

Hmmm… Or rather Mmmm!!!

–Josh Brusin