How to eat and live more sustainably – less and better quality Meat

Just a few days ago we watched the latest David Attenborough documentary film on Netflix. Every day there are more and more films on climate change, the destruction of habitats, entire animal species disappearing.

Whether we want to admit it or not (and it seems many still don’t want to admit it at all), we are headed for another extinction. But not only plants, animals, ecosystems, the human race itself. Imagine if in the next 50 years or so the earth becomes basically uninhabitable.

The climate change is upon us and will deeply impact our lives.

So what can I do in my everyday life to contribute less to climate change and hope that people I know will follow my example?

This will be a series of posts on the topic to improve what we do every day, what we eat, and hope to make a better future for ourselves, our children and the planet!

Change your diet

Number one topic in this category is meat.

Think of your grandparents or even of your great grandparents, what products were available for them in the times they were alive? Meat was not produced at an industrial scale as it is today, so it wasn’t something people would be eating twice or even three times a day, it might have been something that was only available for the weekend meals or for special occasions even. It would occupy a small part of the food plate, but nowadays 90% of our plate is a steak and then maybe a leaf of salad as garnish.

I’m sure you have heard that animal farming, specifically cattle farming, is one of the most polluting industries today. A part from releasing generous amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, the concentration of the animals is staggering, creating a quantity of faeces (that in a normal situation would be beneficial to the soil) that is way too high and too concentrated in specific areas, leading to methane gas creation in the atmosphere that has an even worse effect than CO2, and contaminating the soil and the water. Not to even mention the horrendous conditions in which the herds of animals have to live.

The animals before this industrial farming model lived outside in the fresh air, eating grass or some leftovers directly from the family kitchen. So we can be pretty much sure the animal wellbeing was significantly different. Thankfully there are producers who keep doing this, or are returning to a circular farming now.


The more the planet requires meat, the more forests are being destroyed to construct farms, Brazil is an excellent example in the current moment, cutting down huge parts of the rainforests in the Amazonia (this is just only one example) to give way to satisfy our infinite and cheap meat cravings.

And you should know, in the past all of the animal was used as food, not like today where we go to the supermarket and only buy the fancy cuts, only the chicken breast, the steak, the sirloin. As if the animal produced only those special pieces just for you. And where does the rest of the meat go? Have you ever thought of that?

There are old sayings in many languages about using all of the slaughtered animal in order to honor what it brings to the family, in Italy, for example, they say – del maiale non si butta niente! You never throw anything away of the slaughtered pork! You can use every single body part, even the blood for different dishes, sausages.

And last but not least, increased meat consumption is linked to higher incidence in oncological disease, and most certainly cardiovascular disease. Don’t misunderstand, not all meat is the same. There is a difference in consuming wild game, locally organically produced meat and in general consuming meat less than three times a week. (No suspicious hotdogs and things that hardly resemble real meat as well…)

So what is the solution then?

Moderate your meat intake, if you consume meat.

Choose it wisely. Do look into trying different cuts, try the innards, they are considered the less noble parts but might actually be healthier, like the liver which is an excellent source of iron. And maybe even easier and quicker to cook than other parts, excellent idea for a busy work night dinner.

And do you know?

In a wholesome diet, like the Mediterranean diet (the most researched and oldest diet that we know of and which gives the greatest benefit to our health AND sustainability too!), meat shouldn’t be consumed more than twice a week, you can have plenty of nutrients from that.

Pay attention to…

Where your meat comes from.

Is it an organic farm? Is it from a small producer that sells his meat at the market and has his farm no further than 50 km from the city? Choose local. Choose organic and better farmed animal meat.

Wild game is an excellent choice too. Animals living in the wild and eating anything they can find in the woods, these meats are high in omega-3 fatty acids, the ones you really need for a good heart health, that you can usually find in fish. Yes, you can find them also in game meat!

There are may ways to go, but let’s just put it into a few points:

  • choose organic
  • choose local and humanely produced animal meat
  • follow the seasonality and choose game in autumn
  • don’t (!!!) aways look for the same body part, buy the whole chicken and then figure out how to cook new dishes, instead of the usual boring chicken breast
  • no processed meats, like wurstel and such, if they don’t come from local producers you don’ t know or that contain an infinite list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce or have no idea what the hell they are
  • mix your meat with mushrooms, there are various researches that show that mushroom can give a similar taste and satisfaction as meat, so if you make meatballs, mix 50/50 meat and shiitake, for example, healthier and more sustainable
  • cook more legumes, they are the perfect nutritious products that satisfy hunger and are just the tastiest things!

Bottom line, better quality and organic meat is more expensive. That is why you should choose less, but better quality!

About

Graduate in Gastronomic Sciences, Q Arabica Grader, WSET L2 in wine. Obsessed with cooking new recipes, I love visiting producers and travel for food!

Leave a Reply