I've given up beef, again, but only for a month. I'm already on week three and I don't miss beef as much as I used to.
The first time I gave up beef was in college after reading Fast Food Nation.
Schlosser's expose on the meat industry and its sociological impact was very um... unpleasant. But, as much as I wanted to help out those illegal immigrants, minimum wage fast food workers and the cows, I was done in one night by some left over Chinese beef and broccoli. Curses!
This time around, my temporary beef ban is also inspired by a book. Daria got me a copy of Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe for Christmas a few years ago and I have recently finished reading it.
Just like last time, my no-cow stance has everything to do with sociological and environmental impact of beef and nothing to do with the whole MEAT IS MURDER!!!! part of it. There's nothing wrong with not eating meat because animals are cute and fluffy. Animals are cute and fluffy. But, equating meat eating with murder is a slippery slope to veganism. How is it okay to eat eggs, but not chicken? What about leather? However, if you approach vegetarianism from sociological and environmental angle than it becomes much more palatable because you can introduce the idea of going meat-less, as in less meat. Going meat-less is like going green. No one's arguing that you should completely give up gas and electricity, just that you should use less.
If the goal is to decrease meat consumption overall, I think it is far more effective to convince a lot of people to eat a little less meat than to convince a very small number of people to give up meat for the rest of their life.
Going back to why I'm not currently eating cows...
Diet for a Small Planet is not a well written book. Only about maybe 10% of it is interesting facts, the rest is just her going on and on and on and on about herself in this nauseating faux humility. The whole book is written in this hand wringing, "THE SKY IS FALLING!", "I told you so!", pleading, Casandra-esq tone of voice. It's a book meant to preach to the choir. The basic gist is that meat is the least effective means of protein because, it takes something like 27 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef or something. As a result, people around the world are starving because the grains that could go to feed the poor are being used to feed the cows, who in turn, will feed the rich. So, enjoy your death burgers you fat disgusting Americans! It comes at the expense of millions of starving third world country kids! I hope you can sleep at night.
The tone is annoying and I suspect the science is faulty at parts but I do agree that meat is a very inefficient means of protein. So, in order to save the world and feed the starving kids in poor countries, I am going to eat less meat. Y'all can thank me later.
I kick started my less meat diet with this Lemon Linguine with Spinach and Crispy Prosciutto (or, in my case, bacon).
It only uses a few strips of bacon and, if you were to take out the bacon, I don't think it would effect the taste that much.