But… how could something so tasty be bad?

Posted by on Jul 18, 2011 | 0 comments

It looks as if there’s even more evidence–and very good analysis of it–that suggests that meat and dairy are bad for the environment. Well, crap. (And crap is definitely part of the problem.)

The Environmental Working Group just released a report on why we should be eating fewer animal products. The report tells a compelling story, though it’s not a story some of us would like to hear. The production of meat and dairy uses large amounts of pesticide, fertilizer, fuel, feed, and water, and it releases greenhouse gases, manure, and toxic chemicals into our air and water. HuffPo just posted a good, brief summary of it here.

On the good side, there are definitely things you can do to reduce your environmental footprint from food. Eating local helps. It may have an even bigger impact to eat only animal products from non-confined feedlots, which are particularly bad–manure from confined animal operations in the U.S., also known as CAFOs, produce three times the waste of the country’s human population. That means learning where your meats and cheeses come from and supporting those producers who are doing things responsibly. It’s not always easy, and it will definitely cost more than the industrial alternative, but it will taste (and feel) better!

We can also learn a thing or two from traditional, less-intensive foods like prosciutto di Parma, made from happy pigs who are never confined or gorged on antibiotics and get to feast on the sweet whey left over from making Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Its thin slices are packed with flavor–especially when wrapped around melon or fresh figs.

Another option is just to eat less meat and dairy. EWG recommends trying “meatless Mondays.” Pick one day a week that works for you, and go totally veggie that one day. If it works for you, try a couple of days a week–and use the money you save to splurge on better quality meats and cheeses the rest of the week.