Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving Blunders

I promised at the beginning to be honest... so here it goes: I ate turkey. And dressing with chicken stock.  And probably a few other things with chicken stock.  
And the consensus was- my belly was angry with me.  VERY angry.

I felt guilty immediately after dinner.  But, I've come to the conclusion that while I definitely could have gone without eating meat on Thanksgiving, I refuse to be upset with myself.  I have been doing so good with my task for the past three months and I needed a break, at least for one day.  

So now, my Historical Ecology class is over, and I have learned so many things that I will take with me and try to pass on to anyone willing to listen (and thanks to all my friends and loved ones for putting up with my ranting the past few months), but I'm not going to beat myself up if I indulge every now and then (hopefully more then and less now...).  Because, like I said before, every little bit helps!  And I want to continue to post new knowledge and tales of my adventures in pescetarianism, because it helps me to stay on task and be diligent.  

Over the course of my project, I have enlightened a few friends who now are wholly committed to "meatless Mondays", one friend who also engages in "toothless Tuesdays", and one friend who is on the track to a fully vegetarian diet!  I know it isn't much, but it is something.  Every time a nay-sayer of my project tells me that what I'm doing makes no difference in the grand scheme of things, I am reminded of the story of the boy and the starfish.  If you aren't familiar, I will retell it here:
One day, a little boy is walking down the beach and discovers a stretch of sand covered with starfish that have been washed ashore.  He can tell that they are still alive, but they can't find their way back to the water.  He starts picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the ocean.  A man walks up to the boy and asks him what he is doing.  The boy responds by telling the man that he is saving the starfish.  The man then looks up and sees hundreds and hundreds of starfish laying on the beach and says, "There is no way you can save all these starfish, there is no point in even trying."  The boy then bends down, picks up another starfish and throws him back, and then another, and says "Perhaps not, but I saved this one."

Cheesy, yes, but touching.  And I believe that if everyone had the same viewpoint of the little boy, that the world would be a better place.  So, I will update this blog every so often, for anyone interested in reading.  Thanks everybody for supporting me, it means a great deal.

Monday, November 22, 2010

facts and stats

Sorry for the hiatus... my roommates and myself are in the process of moving and the internet bill somehow managed to get overlooked.... oops!

Before I kick off this post, however, there's a website you should check out for some entertainment : www.themeatrix.com  (once again, something I stole from Sabrina- thanks!!).

Where's the beef

Since I began this "project", many people have commented to me on the question of the environmental effects of a vegetarian diet.  Yes, growing crops and grains on a large scale requires land, thus usually, the clearing of forests, etc.  But what most people don't realize is that at least 70% of the grain grown in America is used for livestock feed, not humans.   Around the globe, more than two thirds of all agriculture land is used for growing feed for livestock, while only 8% is used for direct human consumption according to the Livestock, Environment, and Development Initiative (LEAD).  Rainforests in South America are being destroyed and cleared more and more every day to plant soy bean crops, the major component of feed used for pigs.  When you consider how many people are starving to death all over the world daily, it seems absurd that so much grain is used to feed our insatiable desire for meat.  The demand for meat is only rising every day, with the development of third world countries.  

Growing of these crops for livestock feed takes a whole lot of water, too.  In John Robbins book, The Food Revolution, he states that to produce one pound of beef, it takes 2,500 gallons of water.  On the other hand, it takes 33 gallons of water to produce a pound of carrots.  Here's the crazy part: for every 16 ounce steak a person consumes- it's the equivalent of 6 months worth of water used for showers!

Now think about the amount of fuel it takes to transport all the materials needed daily around the world for all the factors associated with livestock production.  It seems there is no escaping large amounts of fuel use when you consider fuel to produce the feed (machines for watering, plowing, etc), transporting the feed, electricity to run the livestock factories, transporting the livestock to slaughterhouses, transporting the meat all over the world to supermarkets, etc.

Now, I know Thanksgiving is in 3 days, and I'm not saying don't indulge and eat all you can- just try and balance out what you know you will be indulging in.  Perhaps eat meat free until Thanksgiving.  Or do without meat for a few days afterwards.  Every little bit helps!
So Happy Thanksgiving, people! I'll let you know how my first pescetarian Thanksgiving goes later....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

'Tis the Season

    It's getting to be that time of year with big family meals... in my family that means a whole lot of meat.  And I'm not going to lie, when my roommate made sausage balls (you know, those bisquick and cheese things) the other night- I had to make her put them away so I wouldn't devour all of them.  It's really strange that I've gone this long without meat, and honestly I rarely crave it, but I suppose I have been conditioned to expect heavy meals around this time of year. 

   But, thankfully, it is also the time of year for winter squash!! There is no meat craving I have that can't be cured by some delicious butternut, acorn, or blue hubbard squash.  Plus, there are tofu and tempeh substitutions for almost any kind of meat you can think of- so later this week, my friend Jessica and I are going to attempt to create some tofu sausage balls (and thus, put my mind at ease). 

   I am getting a little nervous about my first vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner, though.  It's hard to resist some of the casseroles and gravy, and such.  Plus, it doesn't help that my mom thinks that vegetarians still eat things with meat broth or stock in them (her argument is "Ashley, everything that's delicious has some kind of meat broth in it!)  So I may just have to eat my own private meal before entering my cousins house full of traditional Thanksgiving fare.

   Anyway, just a quick side note- I have had so many friends and family members ask me recently "why are you doing this?" and I say- "Read my blog!!".... but really, it seems as if some people think my diet change is a personal attack on their diet option.  It most definitely is not, I am harmless, people.  And I was a huge carnivore not that long ago myself! I've just realized that vegetarianism makes sense, especially environmentally (even though reading about it has made me discover how cruel the livestock production really is).  Alright, not a very enlightening blog post, I apologize... more to come soon (actual facts next time).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

water pollution

"We conserve what we love,
We love what we understand,
We understand what we are taught."

    This is my new favorite quote, stolen from a classmate (thanks Sabrina!)  Over the past couple days, I have discovered so many terrible facts about livestock production and slaughterhouses that I have been ignorant of all my life.  In a sense, I know I avoided these truths because I didn't want to give up my beloved bacon, bar-b-q, hamburgers, etc.  I avoided any knowledge of what my choices were causing like a plague, because ignorance is bliss... or so I thought.  Now I've started to unveil the truth: that eating meat is not a sustainable practice.

   This blog entry is going to be dedicated to the mound of information  I've discovered about the pollution caused by livestock production and slaughterhouses.  Although I have just begun on my so called "vision quest", information is just pouring in.

   We all know about the BP oil spill and are outraged by the incident.  The environmental damage was severe and costly, and greatly upset people all over the country.  Yet people are largely unaware of a leak in 1995 that was almost as environmentally damaging to southeastern rivers.  After a large rain in Onslow County, North Carolina, a dike broke on an industrial hog farm- causing 25 million gallons of hog waste to rush into the New River (North Carolina digital history, www.learnnc.org)  The spill caused 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to be closed to shell fishing, and astronomical numbers of fish deaths, around 10 million (www.nrdc.org).  All from an eight acre hog farm! Just imagine how much waste is produced every year from all the livestock in America alone.  It is disgusting to think about.  Small leaks occur all the time, constantly soaking through the soil and into water sources.  Ammonia, a form of nitrogen found in animal waste, causes algal blooms which deprive the water of dissolved oxygen for the fish to survive.  One of these said "dead zones" exists at the mouth of the Mississippi River that covers an area that fluctuates from 5,000-7,000 square miles. 

Satellite image of the northern Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi Delta showing hypoxic coastal water (light blue). This color change is due to excessive nutrients being washed into the sea. Source: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC, January 2003. 

    Alright guys, there's my seed of knowledge for the day.  I know it is not much, a bit of a tease, but I wrote this while procrastinating studying for an exam. (yikes!) Alright, I'll drop some more knowledge soon.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hello people!  This is the beginning of my "pescetarian project" where I will log the trial and errors of my new eating habits, explore the detrimental effects of the meat industry, and I hope to discover people's viewpoints and opinions on the subject matter (so please, feel free to post any comments!).
    I decided to become a pescetarian (vegetarian except I occasionally eat seafood) the beginning of September.  I've always been very passionate about the environment, and trying to do my part to conserve what we have left.  On the other hand, I really love food (really), so giving up meat has always been on my list of things to do, but I just never seemed to get there.  Every time in the past that I would try to become vegetarian, I would make it usually a day- but then I would get home and discover my mom or my roommate had made some delicious meal with pot roast, baked ziti, etc., and I could never resist. 

   But since I have been in my Historical Ecology class, where we discuss twice a week what can be done to help the environment and raise awareness, my eating habits have been weighing on my mind heavily.  So I decided once and for all that I should become a pescetarian (I figured I would be less likely to cheat if I could still have seafood).  

    This blog is a place I hope to use to discuss how our diets are affecting our environment.  Don't worry guys, my goal is not to brain wash you into becoming a pescetarian/vegetarian/vegan or any of the above.  I just don't think many people realize what is going on around the world, and how our eating choices can help the planet- even if you eat one meatless meal a day, or have one meatless meal a week.   And please, leave any comments you wish- I hope to learn from my readers as much as the other way around.

    Alright,  after this post commences the "nitty gritty" part.  I'll be researching and studying the environmental effects of producing/eating meat and posting my findings here, plus how my personal diet is coming along (and I promise to be honest if I cheat!), and any other interesting tid-bits I come across.  You'll be hearing from me soon!