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Eat Smart—for You and the Planet

8/19/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: meat, food, vegetarian

Forget Cash for Clunkers. Simply eating less meat on a daily basis will do more to lessen your contribution to global warming than buying a more fuel-efficient car—and will likely make you healthier, as well. 

Cattle-rearing generates more greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, than transportation, according to a United Nations study cited in the Washington Post. In fact, senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld calls livestock “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.” 

As the Post article points out, Americans aren’t too keen on being told to reduce their beef intake. However, as Post writer Ezra Klein points out, “compared with cars or appliances or heating your house, eating pasta on a night when you’d otherwise have made fajitas is easy.” 

Klein cites a Carnegie-Mellon University study that found that going vegetarian one day a week would lessen your impact on the planet more than switching to a completely local diet.

grilled tofu
Mix grilled tofu, tomato confit and penne with olives for a filling, healthy meal. Photo By bricolage.108/Courtesy Flickr. 

And there’s a bonus: Eating vegetarian a couple nights a week saves money. It’s also a great way to reduce calorie intake, incorporate different types of nutrients into your diet and eat more varied types of produce and plant proteins. 

“A Montanan who drives 40 miles to work might not have the option to take public transportation. But he or she can probably pull off a veggie stew,” Klein writes. “A cash-strapped family might not be able buy a new dishwasher. But it might be able to replace meatballs with mac-and-cheese.” 

tofu and tomato salad
Make a simple salad with tofu, tomatoes, greens, olive oil and black pepper. Photo By yomi955/Courtesy Flickr. 

So here’s to veggie quesadillas, pasta marinara, tofu stir-fry, lentil soup, grilled cheese sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly. Let’s make them often and share recipes with friends.

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