The meat industry is one of the world’s major polluters, resulting in a growing movement to step away from the industry by cutting out meat entirely. However, this is a radical step that would likely hurt the economy and require large-scale changes to many people’s lives. There are alternative ways to continue eating meat, while relying less on the big-businesses in this field of work.
Before committing to the removal of all meat from your diet, consider taking a smaller step towards cutting back meat on specific days of the week. This can help you change your dietary habits gradually. Planning your meals in advance can be helpful as well. It’s just a matter of finding your new balance.
The next step is to distance yourself from big retail chains, and find local producers to serve you. This is easier done in small towns and rural areas, where you can actually meat your local farmers. It is possible in larger cities as well, though. It’s not enough to know who your local farmer is: what practises do they implement to promote soil and water conservation?
The environmental impact of grazing and feeding animals goes far beyond the resources you have at your disposal. The impacts come mostly from transportation: moving animals and feed from one location to the next. In large modern farms, this transport is usually done on a large scale, resulting in a massive carbon footprint. Buying from farmers whose animals are locally fed is a far more sustainable way to consume meat.
Processed meat is one of the worst ways to consume meat, and is arguably the least eco-friendly. It requires a long and complicated process that depletes precious resources, and in many cases results in a less healthy product. Try buying meat fresh from local butchers. This will allow you to enjoy meat as a part of your diet, while steering clear of meats that are bad for both the environment and your health.
The use of antibiotics is a key issue in our current meat production. Many drugs are used to protect animals from disease, but they can be bad for both the livestock and consumers in the long term. Try to find farmers who are transparent about their use of antibiotics. There is a growing market for farmers who use no antibiotics at all, and you can do your part to increase that rising demand.
Eating meat is a part of our culture, and the meat industry is one on which countless people rely. Cutting all meat from your diet is a difficult and extreme measure, one that’s not necessarily required to still live in a more eco-friendly way.