Who hasn’t made New Year’s resolutions they know they’ll never keep? Or keep for a month or two and then give up on? Most of us are guilty of this and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because as this article from the New York Times effectively sums up, we usually make big sweeping promises instead of small changes that we can actually stick to.
I challenge you to make a change that will improve your health, in several ways your wallet, the environment and the welfare of animals. As always, I challenge you to work towards adopting a more ethical and sustainable diet. Where do you even start?
Cut back on your meat consumption and eat better quality meat
In one of my previous posts, I examined the history and health risks of U.S. meat consumption (link). It’s obvious that over the years Americans have been eating more and poorer quality meat, which just perpetuates the factory farming system. Ever heard of “Meatless Monday”? You may scoff at it saying, “I’m not a vegetarian – why go completely meatless??” The point of this trend is not to turn you into a vegetarian or vegan but to decrease your meat consumption, encourage you to try out recipes you may never have tried before and to make a statement to the factory farming system that hey, we aren’t mindless slaves to your cheap, poor quality product. Check out www.meatlessmonday.com or google “Meatless Monday recipes” for endless recipes you can do at all skill levels. And hey, cutting out meat for one day a week will save you quite a bit of money and I promise you won’t feel deprived.
Get informed on what you’re putting in your mouth
Thankfully, there is more and more information becoming available to the average consumer about where their food is coming from. I made a post about how Whole Foods can help you choose ethically with their 5 step animal welfare rating system. They also list the farms that provide the ethical meat so you can go home and look up the website, see pictures of the farm and learn more about the farmer that raised the meat you are eating for dinner. I also did a post on the new app from Animal Welfare Approved that helps you decipher definitions of commonly used words like “cage-free” and “naturally raised”. Spend an extra 5 minutes at the grocery store to see what you’re actually paying more money for. Is it legitimately humane and sustainable or is this particular company taking advantage of you and charging you more for an inferior product.
Cook more at home
Everyone knows that cooking at home rather than going out to eat is more economical. But, cooking at home has also been proven to increase happiness. Feeling accomplished when a certain recipe turns out great or having fun with your significant other or your kids while trying out a new recipe is an amazing feeling. Also, cooking more at home will allow you to save money from going out and use that to spend more on better quality meat. Imagine having a grass-fed steak at home for a fraction of the price you would pay for a corn-fed, factory farmed steak at say Longhorn? Check out my post about a few places to buy ethically raised meat in Georgia.
When you do eat out, support local and ethical eateries
Everyone wants to go out and be waited on once in a while. Or eat something you’d never cook for yourself at home (say fried chicken). I’ve done posts on both Farm Burger and Bantam and Biddy, but there are tons of places in and around Atlanta to go. Moxie Burger in Marietta offers White Oak Pastures lamb, Yeah! Burger has White Oak Pastures beef, Ormby’s has Eden Farm’s pork chops, 5 Seasons offers several ethical choices, and really I could go on forever. Many restaurants in the area are utilizing local farms produce and meat and more are popping up every month. Not only are you supporting a local Georgia business but also the ethical eating movement.
Visit a local farm
Spend a weekend to go out and actually visit a farm from where your food comes from! It’ll help you connect the entire process and you’ll get a chance to ask questions, learn more about your farmers and maybe even buy some farm fresh products! White Oak Pastures even has a restaurant on property where you can eat amazing meals cooked with ingredients from 50 feet away. Check out one of my earlier posts to see a list of just some of the amazing farms that Georgia has to offer.
Whether you choose to accept one or more of these New Year’s resolutions, it’s all about the journey. Make 2014 a year of ethical eating!