Realistic dieting in pursuit of living green

Photo by Tyler Meuter

You never know what small conversation or phrase can trigger a change within you.

This summer I resolved to stop eating red meat, not because I had a heart attack in the family, or because I personally watched a cow be slaughtered or anything traumatic such as that. I decided to stop eating red meat because Kat Von D had a feud with Jefree Star. As odd or humorous as that may seem, it’s true. When the makeup celebrities had their famous falling out this summer, I watched their respective videos attacking each other. One of the things that Kat Von D mentioned was how Jefree Star is hypocritical about his vegan status, and how veganism is important to her and her values.

So, I looked more into her Youtube channel, and, lo-and-behold, she had a video about her veganism. I don’t know why it was Kat Von D of all people who struck a chord within me, but for whatever reason, after watching her veganism video I realized that I would like to mostly stop eating meat.

I’ve always known that I don’t like that I eat meat, but I’ve always excused it as “the way of the world.” Growing up in a fairly stereotypical American household, burgers and steak were everyday meals. In all the cooking I grew up with, meat was the main dish and anything else was an optional side. How do you not eat meat? Do you just eat steamed broccoli all day? I liked Indian food, but generally I wasn’t exposed to many vegetarian meals.

More recently, as I have developed a passion for cooking, I know that meat brings such delicious, savory, umami flavors to a dish and adds body to a stew or soup. My brother works in charcuterie, specializing in preparing meat products like salami and prosciutto. So even though I may have realized I didn’t like to kill animals, I knew I loved the flavor and texture that cooking with meat brings.

Yet Kat Von D made some great points. Twenty-seven percent of human methane emissions are from livestock (mostly cows), and most livestock do not live full lives and are not slaughtered in a humane way. Plus, even though I enjoy cooking, plenty of people live happy, fulfilled culinary lives without eating meat (including much of India).

I know that I am not yet ready to eschew eating meat entirely. To become completely vegetarian, I will have to learn to cook entirely new meals, which is more than I’m mentally and socially ready to take on at this moment. So for the time being, I have decided to cut out red meat, which creates the most environmental impact. However, I am still uncomfortable with the circumstances that the animals I still choose to eat are raised in, and will be actively trying to eat a more plant-based diet. Plus, it’s healthier!