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Where’s the Beef?

Where’s the Beef?

After the long journey from California to my hometown just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin for Christmas, it was a welcome treat to get the most Midwestern of welcomes from my mother. A hug, a beer, and a platter of cheese and summer sausage. It didn’t surprise me that these things were ready, that’s just how my family is—what surprised me a little is that I didn’t touch the summer sausage. And not just that night, but for the whole week I was there. Growing up, summer sausage was like its own food group for me. But now, well, I just didn’t want any. I wrote it off to getting older and changing taste buds, but then I read Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times.

It turns out, Americans are eating less meat. Since 2007, 12 percent less. This seems to jive with where I’m at in my own food journey. He even introduced me to a new term: “flexitarianism.” It’s someone who is actively trying to eat less meat, but isn’t a committed vegetarian. That’s me – it seems I’m a flexitarian. (While I agree with the approach to food, I think they’ll need to come up with a better name). This general decline in meat consumption seems to be giving rise to an anti-vegetarianism PR campaign from the beef industry, which is no surprise and is likely to continue to be the case as long as our national attitude draws strange lines between financial profit and healthy eating.

I’m intrigued by the idea of giving up meat for a day a week, like the Meatless Monday movement suggests. My wife and I lived on Honaunau farm this past fall during the Breadfruit festival, and I can tell you that the locals prepare incredible dishes with no meat. If you’re looking for a new option for cooking hearty without meat, check out breadfruit. I’ve also learned plenty about the benefits to eating less or no meat, both for environmental and personal health, from the Care2 Vegetarian Group.

I’m curious who else out there is consciously eating less meat, how it’s going for you, and if you have any tips or resources to recommend. And to those who have gone from carnivore to vegetarian or vegan, what moved you along that path?

Let me know in the comments. My best to you all, wherever you are on your own food journey.

Image credit: SocialRobot via Flickr

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Scott James

Scott James is a new media storyteller living and working in San Francisco. He writes, edits and manages projects in the green and social media spaces. In his free time you'll find him hunting down good coffee, camping along the coast, and spending time with his wife and their dog. You can read more of what he's thinking about on his blog.


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2:30PM PST on Mar 4, 2015

Thanks Scott.

4:21AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

The mysterious commentator just below this comment of mine, talks about how the beef industry 'contributes more deaths than'... blah, blah, blah. Where are the links to back that claim up?

The mystery man below with no profile name, states: "Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine" not to mention that: "If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital."

4:21AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

As for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, it is an arm of PETA, so I would not exactly believe much of what they say about beef given that they favour the vegetarian/vegan diet. So, I would want peer reviewed scientific links backing up this claim of his. Also, the PCRM never mentions the alternative to factory farmed beef which is organically raised beef, which is not factory farmed meat and therefore has no antibiotics or growth hormones added and is not fed unnatural GMO grains to herbivores. In other words, a perfectly healthy alternative to factory farmed beef.

Since PETA and the PCRM is anti-eating meat, they do not of course, offer the healthier alternative of organically raised beef. As with protein, the proper serving portion is of course, the size of a deck of cards. Beef, eaten in a well-balance diet is perfectly healthy if one is omnivore but the PCRM wants one to believe that all beef is somehow unhealthy.

4:21AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

How about this person posting finding a good ghost writer? Fascinating, when going to his/her avatar, it's certainly an interesting experience.

Click on his or her profile photo on the comment and that brings me to a profile page stating someone with no name at all plus:

Joined Nov 4, 2013"

4:21AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Also, hover your cursor over the profile photo and one will see a blue background with the green stars, butterfly points and hello, what is this, something saying 'Econ Geeks,' whatever in the world that is. The profile photo on the blue background is the default grey frog photo. There are 555 green stars listed and then there are 480 butterfly credits listed along with 502 petitions signed, but when on the actual profile page, it lists 555 green stars which matches but then says that he or she has "earned 20,789 Butterfly Credits." Talk about the Twilight Zone.

4:20AM PDT on Apr 16, 2014

Peachy keen. However, the photo is of a male when the profile page says he is a female. How do you manage to have a photo of a male when you list yourself as 'female' on your rather blank profile page? Just curious. Even more fascinating is when one is on the profile page itself and one clicks on the profile photo on the profile page.

Usually, if one wants to see an enlarged photo of the profile photo if you have travelled to look at a profile page, you then just click on the profile photo and depending on the photo specifications, one can often get a larger version to look at. This is nice if the profile photo is of trees, flowers or other Nature shots and one wants a better look than the smaller size offered when first arriving on the profile page. However, clicking on the photo for an enlargement it goes to another page which then says..."No photo." Now isn't this bizarre, I never have seen that happen before. Click on mine when you are on my profile page and you get a very large version of my kitty cat in the sunflower field.

6:06AM PDT on Sep 29, 2013

The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of “real food for real people,” you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.
—Neal D. Barnard, MD, President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

12:56AM PDT on Mar 12, 2013

Let me see, people are saying it is good to go wheat free...for instance Dr. Mercola goes on about how grains are not natural and he even says that many people should eat less fruit because of...fructose which isn't something I want to follow. One year eggs are bad for you, another year just fabulous. Of course there are now GMO veggies/fruit, etc., out there from Monsanto's seeds of destruction.

Some won't eat meat preferring to be vegan/vegetarian. Others eat no meat but eat fish. Simpy eat whatever suits you. For me, small amounts of organically raised beef and other meat along with organic veggies/fruit/legumes. Some 50 years from now am not sure...will Monsanto leave any natural plants in its destructive wake or will only plastic/cardboard tomatoes be left to eat? Avoiding factory farms is helpful, along with avoiding veggies doused in tons of pesticides.

1:24PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

It would be so great if there was no factory farming!!

7:58PM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

I became a vegan because I realized that murdering animals (and financing the murder of animals) conflicts with my ethical belief that murder is wrong. Logically, there's not reason that it should be okay to murder non-human animals, but not okay to murder humans. When non-human animals suffer, their suffering matters just as much as the suffering of humans. I took the leap from vegetarianism to veganism because in financing the egg and dairy industries, I realized that I fund the cruel treatment of animals... and eventually their murder too. In funding the diary industry, we fund the veal industry. Cows are artificially impregnated, calves are torn from their mothers at birth and shoved in a small veal crate where they cannot move for their entire life and food is shoved down their throat-- then their killed.

Male chickens who are born to egg laying hens are ground-up alive and fed to their mothers as food.

I guess, in short, I can't participate in this cruelty. That's why I am a vegan.

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