If you listen to the experts, the authorities, the think tanks, and the consumption of meat are destroying the environment. Of course, it “destroys your health” too, but by far the biggest argument put forward – and which most regular people implicitly accept as “probably accurate” – is that eating meat is damaging the health of the planet.
I will not cover the health part. That was done to death. If you are reading this blog post, you are likely rejecting this aspect of the argument. Hell, you might be having a steak right now. This post is for those who are still concerned about the impact of meat on the environment.
It is a noble cause that I share. So today I’m going to explain how you can eat meat and still reduce your environmental footprint.
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This is almost completely self-explanatory. When meat travels the world to make it to your plate, or even halfway across the country, it burns fuel and creates polluting emissions. It has to go from the farm to the packaging plant, from the plant to the shipyard, from the shipyard to the sea, across the sea to the port, from the port to the distribution center, from the distribution center to the store, from the store to your home.
When your meat is local, all of these middle men and their emissions are left out. It goes from the farm to the local slaughterhouse and then to the farmers market or the local grocer. And sometimes the farm has its own butchering and packing facility in the house and you cut out the middle men even more.
If enough people do this, the local market will grow and the effect will multiply. So do it!
Eat grass-fed, sustainably raised animals.
There’s a whole book about it: Robb Wolf and Diana Rodgers’ Sacred Cow. You also wrote a very relevant guest post on the same topic.
The gist of it is that animals raised on pastures with rotating willows, which mimic the way herbivores travel and eat in nature, can build the soil, fertilize the land and trigger greater plant growth and stronger, deeper root systems which further enrich the soil and its soils, bacteria dwellers. It’s almost as if willow needs herbivores just as much as herbivores need willow.
Furthermore, not all land is fungible. There is a lot of land that is inhospitable to crops but perfect for livestock. If you got rid of the cattle you would be wasting this land; you couldn’t just plant some corn on it. It’s cattle or nothing.
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Remember, there is more to the environment than carbon emissions.
There are many other aspects of the environment to watch and protect – and real meat can help.
When you can get locally packaged meat wrapped in butcher paper ten miles from your house, there is less plastic and less air pollutants to clog your lungs.
When you eat meat that improves the soil, you help build the local ecology and maintain soil nutrition.
When you eat animal foods, you get the nutrients you need to generate energy and keep your metabolism going. Most vegans I know are constantly cold and always ask if you can “turn up the heat”.
The local environment “matters”.
Eat the bones, the skin, the viscera, and the organs – the whole shebang.
The average cow is made up of half lean meat and half “other stuff”. Most people just eat the lean meat and ignore the other things which include bones, connective tissue, cartilage, tendons, and other collagenous material. The other stuff ends up in pet food or used by other industries, but we could eat it, get healthier, waste less feed, and reduce the number of cattle that have to be killed and produced in the process. Big waste here.
Eat the other things, people.
Eat small, oily fish.
Yes / Yes. Omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, iron, calcium, iodine, protein. We know. Aside from diet, these things are great choices for the environment. There are tons of them. Much available. The problem is that a large part of them are used for feeding farmed carnivorous fish like salmon and you lose calories in the process of conversion. You could feed farmed Atlantic salmon five pounds of sardine mud to produce a pound of edible salmon, or you could eat those five pounds of sardines yourself.
What is more wasteful? What is less wasteful? You tell me.
Buy quarters, halves, or whole animals.
Over 10 years ago I told people to start cowpooling – step on a whole cow with their friends. At the time, it was a new concept for most of the non-rural residents, and it wasn’t the easiest thing for people to adopt. First you had to find the cow, then you had to find some friends who would not immediately think you’re crazy for wanting to buy 1,200 pounds of beef.
It’s easier now. Now more people than ever are interested in buying and storing large quantities of high quality grass meat. Do not you believe me? Look for chest freezers in local stores. They are in short supply. People know The people are ready.
Get some chickens.
This is as local as it gets. Instead of having eggs from half the country or even a chicken operation 100 miles away (which is much better than the former), go barefoot into your yard and get some fresh eggs from your chickens. You don’t even have to wear clothes to do it.
The eggs are better too. Much better. And you can do all sorts of cool experiments on them.
- Add paprika and marigold flowers to the feed to increase carotenoid content (and improve egg yolk color).
- Add vitamin D drops to your diet to increase the extra bioavailable vitamin D in the egg yolk.
- Get throwaway greens from the farmer’s market or grocery store to boost the micronutrient levels (such as folic acid) in the eggs.
- Add seaweed flour for iodine.
- Add fish meal for phospholipid-bound omega-3 fatty acids.
There are probably a lot more things you can do to optimize the nutritional levels of your backyard eggs (and if anyone out there has any ideas or suggestions, let us know in the comments section!).
It’s great fun and most importantly, you have no impact on the environment. You have the number of chickens you need to get the number of eggs you need. They compost their manure and don’t throw it away. There is no toxic runoff from 50,000 birds in a small space. They feed waste from the kitchen so that there is less waste on this front too. If you have extra eggs (what are “extra” eggs?), You can sell or give them away to your neighbors, reducing the use of factory-raised eggs and increasing the amount of neighborly goodwill and cheer in this world. The whole situation with backyard chickens is a huge win.
Eat farmed shellfish.
They hear “cultivated” and shrink away. Aren’t farmed fish bad for you? For one thing, not necessarily. Read this post from earlier where I dive into some of the better bred fish out there. Second, farmed shellfish are not really “farmed” as you think. Farmed shellfish live almost exactly like wild shellfish:
- Out in the sea, tied to something.
- Get food from the sea.
- Shellfish farmers do not feed their shellfish. They just raise the little boys, make sure they have a safe home in the water offshore, and leave them largely alone until harvest.
Overall, farmed shellfish have very little human interference factor. The fewer inputs, the more we get out of the way, the better for the environment.
Keep eating meat.
Meat is your inheritance. It is your birthright. It gives us the protein we need to fight off the entropy that our cell structures want to dissolve. It contains creatine, carnitine and carnosine that calm our minds and sharpen our minds.
A dysfunctional cell poisons the organism. A problem child disturbs the family. A decayed person whose personal diet conflicts with the nutritional needs of the body cannot be the best person he can be. I firmly believe that someone who eats meat is not reaching their potential at some level. You can be better, and better people make the environment better.
A non-meat eater is not bad. Not all meat eaters are good. The former can often be great and the latter disappointing; Human achievement is more than just nutrition (much more). But when all else is the same and doesn’t eat meat, you’re selling yourself (and the world) in short.
Eating meat doesn’t have as much of a climate impact as we’ve been told, but it does affect many different aspects of environmental health (including climate). And if you get it right, this effect can be positive.
Does this relieve your stress? Let me know below
About the author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Marks Daily Apple, godfather of the Primal Food and Lifestyle movement, and the New York Times best-selling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, which describes how he combines the keto diet with an original lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is also the author of numerous other books, including The Primal Blueprint, which is credited with the growth of the Primal / Paleo movement in 2009. After three decades of researching and educating people about why food is the key component to achieving optimal wellbeing, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real food company, the Primal / Paleo, Keto and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples manufactures.
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