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Skip burgers, save gas. August 16, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Anyone who reads, watches TV, or goes online knows that there are health and environmental drawbacks to eating too much meat. Despite the rise of offal-loving chefs like Tony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and the popularity of meat-based diets like Atkins and Paleolithic, eating 67 pounds of beef annually as the average American does—not even counting poultry, fish, pork, and all the other meats that are dietary staples—is asking for every sort of trouble.

Disclaimer: This was definitely not true in hunter-gatherer times, for all you Paleo aficionados. But that’s because meat wasn’t farmed then, it was simply hunted. Farmed herds of cows, sheep, pigs and the like weren’t using up disproportionate amounts of land and resources, being doused with toxic chemicals and dosed with antibiotics, or growing fat in factory farms and feedlots. And if you were a hunter-gatherer, the likelihood of eating “too much” meat—or anything else—was extremely remote.

Okay, okay. We’ve all read/heard/etc. that you can feed the whole world by raising crops for people instead of critters. But what you may not have heard, and I certainly hadn’t, was a statistic I just read in an article on Yahoo! Shine called “How much protein do you really need?”

I’ve read all my adult life that it’s way less than we Americans tend to think, and the article reiterated that: no surprise. The surprise was provided by a stat from the Environmental Working Group in their new Meat Eater’s Guide that noted that if you gave up just one hamburger a week, you’d save the environmental cost of driving your car 320 miles. (In their words, “if you ate one less burger a week it would be the environmentally-positive equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.” Whatever.) That’s pretty shocking.

So how much protein is ideal, you’re asking? Apparently 65 grams a day for an adult male and 55 grams for a woman. If you can visualize a gram, you’re way ahead of me. But according to the article, that translates into an egg, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 2-3 ounces of meat (that deck-of-cards size) or 1/2 cup of beans a day. Yeesh, that’s not very much. In our culture, it would take a real concerted effort to avoid getting adequate protein. So maybe giving up that one burger a week isn’t too much to ask.

             ‘Til next time,

                           Silence

Comments»

1. Becca - August 16, 2011

Just read the article. I think it’s an interesting article but environment wise all the same things can be said about mono-cropping. Greater use of pesticides, herbicides, GM organisms and so forth. Mono cropping is one of the main suspected contributors to colony collapse disorder among bees.

As to the diet, James and I have been eating low/no carb since March. I haven’t had blood work done but his labs are amazing. I’ve lost 20 pounds, stabilized blood sugar and lowered blood pressure.

With a high protein diet, you also consume far fewer calories b/c your body is able to use almost everything you give it. All that said, I think every person needs to find out what works best for themselves, though. 🙂

Good points, Becca! No issue is ever as simple as it seems. Certainly protein and fat can both go a long way toward satisfying hunger in much smaller amounts than carbs, since they’re so concentrated. I think that’s one reason why the no-fat hi-carb diet has come in for so much abuse: It just doesn’t satisfy, no matter how much people eat. (Shudder.) The human body NEEDS protein and fat, and it needs carbs, and it needs variety and balance. Common sense should be the guide, not fads!


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