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A Meatless Celebration: Thanksgiving Without The Turkey

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was seven years old, which means that my choice to not eat meat has been a less conscious decision than some, due to the fact that it is so ingrained. I’d like to claim that my ethics and morals have resulted in a studious stance against meat-eating, but that would be overdramatizing the simple notion that it’s just easier for me to do what I’ve always done. Yes, I do agree with carrying a lighter load on the planet, and have sympathy for animals who are treated cruelly (my seven year old heart was sad when I made the link between the Big Mac I just ate and our neighborhood cows…hence becoming a vegetarian.), but ultimately for me, cooking without meat is way less of a messy hassle than learning to.

Kim O’Donnel, author of the brand new cookbook The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations: Year-Round Vegetarian Feasts (You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into), has come to eating less meat from the opposite direction than me. Read more

Eating Less, Better Meat: Yes We Can

I’m a vegetarian. But my husband’s not. And, go figure, my kids aren’t either. Which is exactly why I care about the meat I buy. Yes, I buy meat. I’d rather not, but if it’s coming into the house–and into my kids’ bodies–then I need to know exactly what I’m buying. And I not only want to know how it’s affecting my family’s health, I also care deeply about how it’s affecting our family’s environmental footprint (including climate change).

Enter Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) new Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health. In it, EWG took a close look at how a variety of protein foods rank when their total, “cradle-to-grave” greenhouse gas emissions are calculated. Then we factored in the non-climate environmental impacts (like water pollution) and health effects of meat and confirmed that, indeed, not all meat is created equal. Read more

Eating Liberally & Kitchen Table Talks NYC Present: What’s the Matter with Mass-Produced Meat?

More Americans are demanding higher quality meat–animals fed appropriate, antibiotic-free diets on small farms and slaughtered humanely–and they are choosing to eat less of it, too. Whether turned off by endless recalls, or turned on by the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat, growth in campaigns like Meatless Monday show a powerful shift in the Zeitgeist.

Meanwhile Big Meat is taking on the Environmental Protection Agency to maintain its right to let manure run into our waterways, as it defends the excess antibiotic use (80 percent of antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to livestock), inhumane practices, and consolidation of the industry as the only way to feed the world. The beef industry has even invested in a communications degree that aims to revitalize the consumer image of industrial beef.

The conversation around how we bring meat to the table is multifaceted and is the subject of a lively discussion on April 14 at New York University entitled “What’s the Matter With Mass-Produced Meat?” Read more

More Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday has been getting an awful lot of attention lately, with Oprah’s vocal support and the food services giant Sodexo’s rollout only the most recent examples. But what is Meatless Monday, really? Is it a rallying cry for health, a food marketing ploy, a blogger-led viral movement, a student activist cabal, a celebrity-driven bandwagon, an environmentalist’s dream, or a meat packer’s nightmare? I’d say it’s a little bit of all of these things and perhaps that’s its appeal.

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Leading U.S. Food Service Provider Introduces Meatless Monday to Potentially Millions of Customers

The national non-profit Meatless Monday campaign is proving to be “The Little Engine That Could” in the environmental public health world. In just the last two years national awareness of Meatless Monday more than doubled. According to a commissioned survey by FGI Research more than 30 percent of Americans are aware of the public health campaign, compared to 15 percent awareness in 2008. No doubt the announcement last week that Sodexo, a food service company which serves more than ten million North American customers a day, has adopted the campaign will only help to increase Meatless Monday’s popularity. Read more

Dinner Is Love: In Conversation with Laurie David

She had her epiphany at the dinner table. It was just a year and a half ago now. Dessert was lone gone, but her kids were still at the table talking. She sat back in her chair, and realized: oh my gosh, this is the one thing I’ve done right as a parent. She reflected how it hadn’t happened by itself. It had been a conscious effort to create family dinner rituals at home. Perhaps, she wondered, she could share this with other people…

Laurie David, producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and author of The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, is fired up about family dinners. She’s used her epiphany to write a wonderfully inspiring, and deeply enlightening book that demonstrates how family dinners have the potential–if we embrace them–to be so much more than just, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?” Read more

A Meat Lover’s Manifesto for Meatless Monday

Food news hound Kim O’Donnel is often ahead of the culinary curve.

In a longtime online gig for The Washington Post, the seasoned journalist began blogging about all things edible and conducting kitchen chats before such venues took off in gastronomical cyber circles.

She started Canning Across America before pickling and preserving D.I.Y.ers turned up in a photo spread in the New York Times Magazine.

And she was one of the first mainstream reporters to cover the meat-free Monday phenomenon.

She began writing about the subject for the Post a couple of years ago in a recipe-focused column that proved the impetus for her new cookbook, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour (Da Capo Press, $18.95). Read more

Kitchen Table Talks: The Meat of the Matter

Industrial animal agriculture and meat production and consumption have become central issues of our time. Between 1950 and 2007, per capita meat consumption in the U.S. increased an astounding 78 pounds per person per year and world meat consumption is expected to double by 2050. The health consequences from the overconsumption of meat—obesity, coronary heart disease, and cancer—are now well documented.

The 2006 United Nation publication, Livestock’s Long Shadow articulated the environmental impact of industrial animal production—and a new study further estimates that livestock farming on its own—disregarding all other human activity—could negatively tip the balance for climate change and habitat destruction by mid-century.

Between the serious environmental and public health and food safety issues associated with Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)—known for their disregard for animal welfare, misuse of pharmaceuticals, pollution and mismanagement of waste, and concentrated corporate ownership; the importance of alternatives such as sustainable ranching; and the debate as to whether we should eat meat at all, lies an important conversation worth having regarding our role in meat’s global and local impact. Read more