It’s hard to do anything to reduce your footprint on the earth if you don’t spend some serious time reflecting on your personal habits. From cleaning supplies to transportation needs to filling your food needs a serious look at your consumption can lead to a large impact on the world with a few changes. Lately I’ve been looking at my family’s meat intake. Over the past year we’ve fully made the switch to locally raised meat products, but my analysis is still showing that we are eating more than we need to.
It’s a hard thing to change, this affinity for meat. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I like a good steak as much as the next person (or possibly even more), and I personally have no compunction about eating meat, as long as it’s sourced from a local humane source. But I do know that you can still eat too much of it, and even when it’s raised humanely, eating meat still has a large impact on the world. The question is what to do about it.
I live in the Midwest. In the middle of corn and bean monoculture. Where raising hogs is big business. This meat country. Any kind of meat. Meat is the centerpiece of every meal. When I was growing up practically every meal contained a meat, some type of potato and another side dish. That’s just how everyone eats here, and that’s how my mom cooked. (Probably to deal with some picky kids because my brother and I were very picky growing up, but that’s how it is everywhere)
The question is how do I break out of it? It’s a tough shell to break out of. I’ve grown up cooking a certain way, and changing the way I cook is quite difficult. The few times I’ve cooked without using meat as the main item, or at all, it’s been quite liberating. In fact, I kind of like the challenge of it. It’s easy to cook with meat in the meal. I guess it would be like asking someone who is Asian to cook up a Midwestern meal. They would find it challenging, but could probably adapt. I’m essentially doing the same thing. I’m trying to forget my Midwestern roots and learn more Asian types of dishes where meat isn’t the centerpiece of the meal.
But these meals I’ve cooked have always felt like something was missing. Maybe it’s because I’ve got it ingrained in my head that a meal should consist of a meat centerpiece. When I see my kids eat they don’t really care if the meal has meat in it or not (although they do routinely complain about having stir fry AGAIN) so it appears that this feeling I have must be something that has been learned by me over time. I don’t notice that I have this feeling when we have a pasta meal without meat, perhaps because I grew up with pasta meals on occasion without meat in them? I’ve noticed more lately that when we eat a meal it isn’t the meat that I go back for when I get seconds. Maybe that’s something my body is telling me subconsciously?
I don’t really know where I’m going with this whole thing. I’m just kind of talking and thinking through my fingers. Maybe some of you have dealt with these same types of things? Could you offer any insight? It seems difficult to take the final step to stop cooking meat with meals mostly because I’m not really sure how to cook without it. That seems like kind of a lame reason, but it’s mostly true. It could be as simple as just not cooking it, but still having all the same side dishes. That seems kind of boring.
I don’t know. It’s a hard thing for me to figure out. I guess I’m trying to reduce how much meat we eat, without feeling deprived after we eat, but still keep meat in our diet to ensure we get all the necessary nutrition. I guess I’m blabbing on here trying to figure out how to reduce it further. It seems like I’ve taken the easy steps but these next few seem to be a little larger and I’m more unsure about it.