Mindlessly Buying Meat

ImageYou may have noticed the increasing popularity on TV or in your local grocery store about initiating Meatless Mondays .  But what exactly is the idea of a Meatless Monday?  The goal is to reduce the amount of meat you consume every week for health, economic, and ethical reasons.

Our food industry today has allowed meat to become a commodity.  Meat was once intended only for special occasions and was seldom used for an average, every night dinner.  It was meant to be a celebratory dish.  As a result people respected, appreciated and savored these dishes much more than the hamburger they can now easily pick up on their lunch break.

Not only has the respect for meat been lost in many American homes, but the food industry as well.  The food industry makes it easily accessible for people to have a slice of bacon with breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch and a steak for dinner.  We can now have meat anytime of the day, any day of the week – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  While this appears to be great news for all you meat lovers, we have to take into consideration how we are hurting our food industry by consuming so much.

The food industry is constantly working to keep up with the increasing demands for food.  Meat, poultry, eggs, you name it.  The food industry’s goal is to produce the most products and make the highest profit possible and because of this, treatment of animals and workers becomes compromised.  So what can we do to improve this situation?

You don’t have to stop eating meat – I don’t think I would ever win that argument.  However, as a country we need to consume much less meat.  Even if you never plan on becoming a vegetarian it makes economic and health sense to integrate meatless dinners into your meal plan during the week – plus it might save you some money!

Especially after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural history of Four Meals I am convinced that eating meat in moderation is the most ethical and responsible health choice we can make as a country.  Families, including my own, who typically cook at least one (or more) meal a day featuring a piece of meat or poultry means buying the less expensive options at the grocery store.

But where are all these questionably labeled packages of chicken and meat coming from?  Well, I won’t get too into depth on that.  That’s Michael Pollan’s job.  I would highly recommend reading his book if you have any interest in where your food is actually coming from. My point is though that maybe instead of having meat every night of the week we should enjoy a vegetarian meal in its place.  If we limit our meat consumption we can spend more money on a piece of meat that we have a better sense of where in our country it is coming from.

You can find these specified cuts of meat and poultry in speciality food shops/grocery stores and at farmers markets.  Even though this might not be a realistic solution for everyone, it would be better to buy meat once or twice a week and know that it is coming from an independent or local farm operating under decent conditions than a conventional government farm operating secretly behind closed doors.

Not only will this give you piece of mind that the animals are being treated in an ethical way, but you (often) do not have to worry about antibiotics, chemicals, or the animal’s diet.  If an animal is eating it’s proper diet, than believe it or not, it will actually taste like it is suppose to taste!  So, the next time you are out shopping for dinner consider skipping the meat and investing in a better piece for your next dinner.

Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.