I gave up beef totally on a whim: it was the second day of 2017, and my friend told me casually that her New Years Resolution was to cut out beef. She encouraged me to do it, too; I was just like “Okay, sure, I’ll give up beef with you.” That night I watched a couple of documentaries on animal agriculture and decided that, yes, I should totally give up beef. Truthfully, all animal agriculture is super harsh on the environment, so if I was a true, honest environmentalist, I would give up all animal meat altogether. We have to be realistic with ourselves, though, and what we can truthfully commit to. If there is only one thing I give up for the planet, it should totally be beef. Livestock agriculture accounts for roughly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and beef is the number one contributor by a long shot, considering the amount of land, water, and grains a single cow requires.
I am not perfect non-beef eater. There’s nothing tastier than a slice of hard salami (cured mix of beef and pork) in sandwiches. However, I still feel guilty about an In-n-Out burger I drunkenly ordered four months ago at 3 AM in Vegas. However, it’s been surprisingly easy to avoid beef, and I think I do a pretty good job. I have never been one to crave red meat; when the situation presents itself, I order vegetarian, turkey, or chicken. Avoiding beef makes me feel responsible similar to bringing my own bags to the grocery store. Silly, but the planet needs every little thing we can give.
I’ve learned quite a bit on my journey:
- There are plenty of other ways to get protein! For example, most beans supply about 15 grams of protein per cup, so up to 30 percent of your total protein requirement for the day can come from just one serving. A bowl of non-fat Greek yogurt can supply almost third of your daily protein. How wild is that!!
- If environmental motivation wasn’t enough, giving up beef is doing your heart health a favor! I love heavy cardio, so I feel eating beef would now be canceling out the benefits.
- Ground turkey is definitely not as tasty as ground beef. You need to be smart about how you spice it! I have also recently discovered ground pork and it’s a game changer.
- As I’ve grown pickier about my protein purchases, I realize that I have no clue what “grassfed”, “organic”, or any other package stickers truly mean. My next goal is to become thoroughly educated!
Some other resources I like include Minimalist Baker for easy peasy recipes or the Virtues chapters of Food Swings by Jessica Seinfeld Food Swings by Jessica Seinfeld for lots of straight-forward clean eating recipes. On Netflix, I’ve enjoyed Cowspiracy, Food Choices, Sustainable, and the cult classic Food Inc. If you’re thinking about giving up beef but aren’t sure about going so drastic, perhaps try Meatless Mondays or “Vegan until 6.”