Blub, Cluck, Oink and Moo

Even a modest 8-ounce steak represents 3.5 pounds of consumed grain. That’s a lot of plants, and therefore a lot of farm land, dedicated to our collective love of red meat.

Boy!

For those of you who read last week, that was the answer to our question. We are so very excited, and we are grateful that our baby is looking good and healthy on the ultrasound.

Now, on to this week’s post. Growing up, I had the inestimable blessing of a Southern mother who made dinner for the family most nights. This meant that I ate well. Mom, I didn’t say this enough back then, but thank you!

She made sure that we were exposed to a wide range of foods and that our meals were balanced from a nutritional standpoint. As is common in developed countries, animal protein was a part of almost every meal. That’s mainly the reason why the idea of vegetarianism has always felt instinctively strange to me – meat has always been my normal.

In the last several years, however, I’ve been giving vegetarianism more thought. It turns out that conventional animal farming presents a number of environmental and health challenges, including the disposal of animal waste and the massive amount of antibiotics needed to fight disease.

Here’s another issue that doesn’t get talked about as much. The following quote is courtesy of Lester Brown and his book Full Planet, Empty Plates, from page 31:

“A steer in a feedlot requires 7 pounds of grain for each pound of weight gain. For pork, each pound of additional live weight requires 3.5 pounds. For poultry, it is just over 2. For eggs the ratio is 2 to 1. For carp in China and India and catfish in the United States, it takes less than 2 pounds of feed for each pound of additional weight gain.”

When I first read that, it shocked me. Even a modest 8-ounce steak represents 3.5 pounds of consumed grain. That’s a lot of plants, and therefore a lot of farm land, dedicated to our collective love of red meat.

Here’s the real concern associated with this quote. As millions of people across the globe move into the middle class, we can expect to see them demand more animal protein as a part of their diet. If yield-per-acre doesn’t keep up, and I fear that it won’t, then even more arable land will be dedicated to feeding our other foods. We will likely see strains on our global food supplies as a result, which nobody wants.

Despite all of this, I’m not quite ready to become a vegetarian. It’s just too hard to imagine living the rest of my life without a bite of my mom’s chicken pot pie. That said, I have committed to making most of what I eat plant-based, with the majority of my animal protein coming from seafood, chicken or eggs. Pork and red meat are reserved for special occasions, and with the cholesterol issues in my family, that’s healthier anyway.

And trust me, if you are only ordering a steak once-in-a-blue-moon, it tastes even better than normal!

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