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Help the Environment by Eating Less Meat

Smarter Eats: Give Yourself a Meat Budget

Whatever your reason, eating no less meat is a good thing. Beef recalls, environmental woes, and ethical concerns are enough to turn even the most Neanderthal-esque carnivore into a sprout-lovin' vegan. But for those of us that can't resist the lure of a juicy burger, luscious pork belly, or the satisfying saltiness of bacon, it's becoming harder to reconcile what we want with what's best.

Barring becoming a vegetarian, one way to handle the whole being-a-responsible-meat-eater thing is to give yourself a weekly meat budget. Years ago I read an eye-opening piece by cookbook author Mark Bittman about the dramatic effects that cutting down on our grain-fed meat consumption can have. (Even for those who stick to organic, grass-fed beef when cooking at home, it's much more difficult to adhere to this policy when dining out.)

Find out why cutting back on meat is better for the environment, read more.

"If Americans were to reduce meat consumption by 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius."

That kind of environmental impact is a huge deal. Beyond the environment, cutting back on meat is good for your health too. Something I was reminded of after reading a Huffington Post article5 Ways You Can Eat Ethically and Still Have Bacon — from a former colleague. Some of his suggestions are using meat as seasoning or becoming a part-time vegetarian. Btitman's suggestion is to reduce our meat consumption to under a pound a week, essentially becoming flexitarians.

I don't eat a lot of meat to begin with, but I'm taking on the challenge of a weekly meat budget. As suggested in the HuffPo piece, I'll sparse my meat portion over the course of an entire week rather than give myself one big meal to relish. I'll throw some small pieces of pancetta into a pasta or veggie dish, turn my meat serving into more of a side dish, and go full-blown vegetarian for some meals. I'm also going to try my best to always eat meat that comes from small farms. Given that I am eating way less of it, I should be able to afford the best of the best. How about you — are you up for the challenge?

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