New Year’s resolution: Eat less chikin

Save me! Photo: SMcGarnigle via Flickr

Save me!
Photo: SMcGarnigle via Flickr

On the first of January, I turned over a new, er, leaf.

I left behind my days of buffalo chicken wraps and bacon-covered bacon for a life of vegetarianism. And I stumbled upon the Vegetarian Calculator – this handy tool that calculates the actual, tangible impact that I’ve made by going meat-free, using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Maybe it’s only been a few weeks, but I’ve supposedly already saved the lives of 16 adorable animals and prevented the release of 126 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Everyone’s been asking me why I made the switch. And I wish I could say it was for the environment. I wish I could even say it was for the animals. But it was for me. I wanted to improve my health, get in better shape, and – I’ll say it – I gave into the fad. Food fads are everywhere right now, from gluten-free this to juice-cleanse that.

But what do they all mean, for us and the rest of the world?

I’m not alone in giving into this one. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, frequently referred to by media as “America’s fittest mayor,” recently appeared on WGN Morning News to encourage Chicago’s residents to join him as a vegan to improve their health and life expectancy. I haven’t gone that far, and can’t say that I ever will. But it goes to show that this diet may have staying power. I already love immersing myself in so many, dare I say, better foods. (Team falafel!) But I decided to educate myself on the benefits I am bringing to my environment, near and far.

I learned that veg-heads use less water, food and oil, and contribute less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Oh, and animal agriculture accounts for 18 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2006 UN study. And according to the Vegetarian Calculator each American’s diet causes the deaths of four animals per week, on average. No, thank you – this looks like one resolution I’ll be keeping. (But wish me luck! I do really like chicken.)

3 thoughts on “New Year’s resolution: Eat less chikin

  1. Congratulations to the author on going veg. Better personal health is a fantastic reason to make the change, and how awesome is it that the animals and the planet benefit, too. For me, as a vegan, compassion and justice for animals are the most compelling reasons. Nearly 10 billion animals die in industrial factory farms in the U.S. annually to produce meat, eggs, and dairy. They are all sentient, and they suffer intensely before slaughter. The *intentional* cruelty toward and killing of 10 billion animals simply can’t compare–in numbers or morality–to the unintentional deaths that take place in crop production. That’s like arguing against roads and cars, since we know that some people are going to die–unintentionally–in car accidents on roads. Besides, a huge portion of the grains already being grown are fed not to humans but to animals in massively polluting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)–factory farms, in other words.

    To keep the discussion germane to this site, this link shows the CAFO’s in Michigan alone:
    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103442662347384528219.000485263af1b732bd5f4&source=embed&ll=43.119855,-84.609682&spn=2.75743,3.909255

    (It’s from the Michigan Sierra Club’s Healthy Great Lakes Campaign http://michigan.sierraclub.org/issues/greatlakes/AllAboutAnimalFactories.html )

    and Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan also addresses Great Lakes & CAFO concerns http://nocafos.org/news.htm

    Get inspired to make the change to a healthy, plant-based diet–scroll down to the first video screen and view the short video embedded here:
    http://www.othernationsjustice.org/?page_id=3183

  2. I don’t have an issue with people who want to live an alternate lifestyle, be it gay, religion based, political or food choice. I do have an issue when they “preach” it.
    Don’t believe all the stats you get from the Veggie Sites. Few foods are as high in energy and necessary proteins, vitamins and other essential nutritional goodies as meat. That means you have to eat more veggie things to get the equivalent nutrition and energy requirements to stay healthy. That means more land has to be devoted to producing the veggies you need to stay healthy. That land requires hydrocarbons to fuel the machinery of production. Growing food on that land destroys or denies habitat for wild animals. Chances are, the grower uses some sort of “pest” control to eliminate crop depredation by raccoons, deer, birds or other animals. Being a vegetarian just puts you a bit farther down the food chain. It doesn’t elevate you above it or remove you from it.
    Few people would not admit there are “meat” slobs, people who are gluttonous carnivores. Why then aren’t vegans “vegetable slobs?” A healthy diet lies between these slovenly extremes.

  3. I laud your efforts to lighten your footprint – yet – am troubled personally because I am now well convinced that a vegetarian diet for most is not the road to optimal health. I invite you to read Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It by Gary Taubes. Our high carbohydrate diet is not ideal – even supposedly heart healthy carbs (grains I mean – not green leafies). He is very persuasive that we’ve got animal fats all wrong – and that we have been persuaded to think a high carb, low fat diet is the right path based on scant evidence while moderate fat, moderate protein, low carb is a proven path to weight loss and maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels. Hard to eat that way without eating animal products.

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