Monday, April 26, 2010

Meatful Monday

Mr. Optimistic frequently says I have the guilt of four catholics. I'd say it's more like five.

There is however one guilt trip I'm not taking. Lately, I've seen several articles that suggest eating meat is bad for the environment and touting Meatless Mondays. A good friend of mine (and very talented photographer) even found this display at the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

And yes, that's a cow in a gas mask encouraging you to lay off beef and dairy products (center right). Seriously.

My friend even overheard a mother say, "See, that is why you are helping the environment by becoming a vegan!" The little girl didn't look so convinced. But many adults are.

Most of the meatless claims center around a 2006 research report by the United Nations titled "Livestock's Long Shadow." The report claims that livestock production accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, this information continues to be recycled.

The problem is that it is a global estimate for all of agriculture, not just livestock. Agriculture across the globe is quite varied. In addition, the study included transportation of livestock products...something you'd also have to do for vegetables unless you live in a greenhouse.

A 2008 U.S. EPA report says, methane from livestock accounts for only 2.4% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. That's relatively small considering transportation accounts for 26%.

What's more, many Americans are actually not meeting the food guide pyramids requirements for lean protein. Beef is the number one food source of zinc (essential for your immune system), as well as an excellent source of iron and protein that will help meet the pyramid's guide. More great news - there are 29 lean cuts to choose from.

Farmers and ranchers work hard to maintain our earth's natural resources everyday. It's our livelihood. So feel guilty about eating too much triple chocolate layer cake (or not calling your mom), but don't feel bad about eating beef.

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