Saturday’s food:

  • Breakfast: Banana
  • Lunch/Brunch: Vegan burrito from Taco Del Mar
  • Dinner: Veggie pasta from two days ago
  • Snacks: I made more hummus and pita chips
  • Drinks: Water, coffee

So this is the post I was hoping to make on Friday. I recently somehow came across this interesting post at Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog about Meatless Monday. Her post is of a letter that Paul McCartney wrote to her encouraging her to participate in Meatless Monday and his reasons for asking her to publicize this movement. Gwyneth is not a vegetarian or a vegan, but she posted this because of the compelling environmental reasons for eating less meat.

(Editor’s note: I do not, as a general rule, read Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog. I promise.)

As I’ve stated before, I’m not eating this way for any of the reasons that so many folks associate with vegan/vegetarianism. I’m not in it for animal rights (although I do think we treat food animals pretty poorly), and I’m really not in it for environmental reasons either. I’m doing this strictly for selfish reasons, to be healthier. But if any argument besides health holds any sway over me, it’s the environmental one.

I think we’ve all heard the great arguments for the past few years about the benefits of eating local. Eating local reduces the carbon footprint of your food, puts money back into the local economy, gives you fresher and tastier food, and in many cases, it’s cheaper than buying from your local supermarket. Salem has some amazing farmers markets for about seven months of the year, and we do as much local buying as we can.

But in terms of carbon footprint, what you eat has far more impact than where it’s from. When you account for the greenhouse gases produced in growing food for animals, feeding the animals, and the gases the animals themselves emit, the effect of eating local meat as opposed to, uh, well traveled meat is minuscule. In fact, some studies show that switching to a vegan diet just one day per week has more impact that eating an entirely local diet.

If you’re interested in reading more about this, here’s a great article from the New York Times about the environmental impact of our meat consumption, and here’s an interesting article about sustainable diets from a vegetarian site. And if you have any interest in this experiment I’ve been conducting on this blog, I encourage you to give Meatless Monday a try. If you’re like me, just trying it will show you that it’s possible, and it’s good for you and the world around you. A win-win, as they say.