A year and a half ago I wrote here about my difficulty in sticking to a diet relatively free of factory-farmed meat. I've been having a lot more success with this lately. Partly because I no longer live with a meat-eater and have more control over what I eat, but also partly because I experienced a mental shift toward vegetarianism.
For years I lived with an avid carnivore and consequently ate plenty of meat. At home I cooked a lot of quality grass fed/sustainably raised meat from farmers markets. Braised lamb shanks. Meatballs. Bison steak. G rilled pork chops. Perfectly crisp bacon for curing hangovers. And so on. For dinners out, I often ate at Brooklyn's many new-american-local-seasonal restaurants where I was happy to order meat. But I also found myself at average restaurants with lackluster vegetarian options or at family or friend's homes where I felt bad turning down non-vegetarian food they'd prepared - which is where it got tricky.
When I started cooking for just myself several months ago, I decided to eat less meat - only when my body craved it for nutrients. However, I realized that I rarely crave it. Instead, I'm eating a lot of roasted vegetables, eggs, cheese (pizza!), and beans, which satisfies me. When I go to the farmers market, I have no desire to buy meat for myself, nor do I want to spend the added expense on it. Moreover, I've even found that when I try a bite of a friend's sandwich or sample a free meat and cheese plate at work, it doesn't taste as satisfying as I expect - for the most part. Every now and then I'll still enjoy meat, like Fette Sau barbecue last week, which is oh so good and comes from organic and small family farms.
I don't think it's realistic for everyone to become a vegetarian. I just think we should be more conscious about where the meat on our plate comes from and eat less of it. So many people go to a deli and mindlessly order a turkey sandwich without thinking about all the implications.
On top of all the water pollution, excessive antibiotic usage, deforestation, and methane and carbon dioxide emissions related to factory farming, I also recently learned that meat eaters intake higher levels of carcinogenic chemicals called dioxins - industrial byproducts that end up in the air, water, and soil, and in higher levels in animals because they are bio-accumulative. Something to think about next time you're ordering lunch at the deli.