Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Food I Eat

For the last year or so, little by little, I have been learning about the importance of supporting local businesses and buying and eating local foods. The benefits of both are far too many to list here. Anyway, that's not really the purpose of this blog post. Last night Aaron and I saw Food, Inc. It was a fantastic (albeit really hard to watch at times) film, and I would recommend it to anyone. I could go into a lot of detail here about the film and WHY I think EVERYONE should see it, but I won't because getting up on my soapbox is also not my reason for writing today.
What I want to share here is something I have been contemplating (not very seriously, I'll admit) for a while, but am now strongly considering making a part of my lifestyle, and a few reasons WHY I am thinking so strongly about making the change.

The change:
Drastically cut back the amount of beef, chicken and pork (although, I really don't eat much of this) I eat. Also, when I do choose to eat meat, I will eat free-range chicken and pork and grass-fed beef.

Now, the reason that I'm not jumping feet-first into this commitment is simply this: it's NOT going to be easy! I don't eat five steaks a week or anything, but either beef or chicken usually accompany lunch and/or dinner, and when I go out for breakfast, I love me some good bacon! It's going to be difficult to make those changes and make sure I am still getting enough protein in my diet!
Also, I am a 27 year-old graduate student who a) doesn't have a lot of money and b) sadly, has to rely on a quick meal here or there sometimes more than once a week. Making a commitment like this would tug a bit at the ol' purse strings, and would also mean that the foods that I once found very easy, quick and convenient will no longer do.

Ok, ok. The REASONS for my change:

1. Ethical treatment of animals. After watching the movie, I simply cannot imagine myself wanting to buy or eat meat from an animal that has "lived" (I use that term quite loosely) the way that most cows, chickens, and pigs are living in our country (and others, I'm sure) today. I can't use my money to support such horrific treatment of those poor things. ...I'm stepping down off of the small soapbox...

2. The health of my body (and our planet). Along with the ethical issues I have with what I saw, I was also grossed out by it. It is unappetizing to me to think about putting pesticides and antibiotics, animals that have eaten them, or animals that have been genetically and chemically modified into my mouth and into my body. "No garbage in, no garbage out." (I think that saying applies nicely to several aspects of life...)
Also, there are tons of environmental benefits to lowered meat consumption. Let's just say that mine is a nearly entirely selfish endeavor, and that these benefits are just another plus.

3. Because I believe that I can make a difference. That was absolutely one of the best and most uplifting messages of Food, Inc.

**Now, I have to be totally honest with you here. I'm not saying I'm NEVER going to go through a drive through (something I don't do all that often anyway) or eat a Samurai Sam's chicken bowl again. I believe that it is ok to eat animals!!! *GASP!* : ) I also believe, however, that those animals should be treated well during their lives (free to roam outside and eat grass and grains) and killed ethically (aka not smashed to death with a machine because that's the most efficient way to kill them).

This is not an "I'M NOW A VEGETARIAN" post. I'm just thinking that this could be an important lifestyle shift for me and one that I'm going to explore quite seriously.

So... Your thoughts please...


  1. I am/was a vegetarian for about the last 2 years. I say "was" because lately Rick and I have been integrating a small amount of ethical meat into our diets, because we believe in monetarily supporting people who are raising animals in ethical and sustainable ways. I will say that eating vegetarian when you're out is probably not as hard as you think. Jimmy John's has a great veggie sandwich, Burger King does a Gardenburger (although it's not great), and Taco Bell has a few vegetarian options. And I *love* getting fresh fruits and veggies at the Farmer's Market. But, yeah, Food, Inc. is a life changer.

  2. I really admire you for doing this. I've thought about it many times (going totally veggie or making a serious cut back on meat), but always retract my plans because it's an inconvenience and I love meat so much. Good for you - am interested to hear how it goes and what veggie meals you love (and also what veggie meals satisfy the hunger after a really intense workout).

  3. Update:
    So far, I've stuck to my goal (except a slice of Val's hamburger pizza at a vball game two weeks ago). I've eaten only grass-fed or free-range meat and have felt way better about what I'm eating. I'm also eating much less meat, although, the only successful vegetarian cooking I've done so far (salads don't count) has been tofu stir fry. I do LOVE Chipotle vegetarian burritos. The texture is way better for me without the chicken in there. So, there you have it. I desperately need to broaden my horizons on meatless food...

  4. Also, check these out: