June 19, 2008

Putting Meat In Its Place

This is a good piece by Mark Bittman on how to begin the process of eating less meat.  The sort of thing that might have prompted helpful thoughts for us when we started seriously scaling back our meat consumption a couple of years ago and may be helpful now to those considering doing the same.
Let's suppose you've decided to eat less meat, or are considering it. And let's ignore your reasons for doing so. They may be economic, ethical, altruistic, nutritional or even irrational. The arguments for eating less meat are myriad and well-publicized, but at the moment they're irrelevant, because what I want to address here is (almost) purely pragmatic: How do you do it?

I'm not talking about eating no meat; I'm talking about cutting back, which in some ways is harder than quitting. Vegetarian recipes and traditions are everywhere. But in the American style of eating — with meat usually at the center of the plate — it can be difficult to eat two ounces of beef and call it dinner.

Cutting back on meat is not an isolated process. Unlike, say, taking up meditation or exercise, it usually has consequences for others.

The keys are to keep at least some of your decisions personal so they affect no one but yourself and, when they do affect others, minimize the pain and don't preach. (No one likes a proselytizer.)

On the other hand, don't apologize; by serving your friends or family less meat you're certainly doing them no harm, and may be doing them good — as long as what you serve is delicious, and that's easy enough.
He then goes on to list several practical steps to take and think through.  Worth a read.

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