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[Green Options blog]

Editor's Note: This Week, Chris Baskind from Lighter Footstep explores going vegetarian and its impact upon the environment. You can check out the original post here.

Want to help the environment? Consider cutting back on the amount of meat you consume -- or go vegetarian altogether.

It's not just a question of animal ethics. Meat production is humankind's least-efficient means of feeding itself. For every pound of meat that goes to the plate, it took sixteen pounds of grain and soybean feed to put it there. On top of this, each calorie of meat protein requires approximately 78 calories of fossil fuels to produce. And at a time where 4,000 children die each day from the lack of safe water, livestock production -- including feeds -- accounts for about half the fresh water used in industrialized nations.

In short: an affluent, meat-rich diet consumes up to three times more resources than one based on vegetables.

Pretty gloomy statistics. There's really no argument with the idea that a well-constructed vegetarian diet is better for our bodies and the environment. Of course, it's easier said than done. Meat-eating is synonymous with health and prosperity in much of the West. Attend a business dinner, and you can be assured the main course is meat. It's tough to find vegetarian food when you're eating out. Going veggie is a significant commitment.

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Start small

Pick one day out of the week to be your "veggie day" and stick with it. If you're planning to do an all-vegetarian day, rather than a single meal, the weekend is a good place to start: you'll have more control over your schedule. Some families start by dedicating a single sit-down meal -- Friday dinner, for instance -- to veggie fare. Whatever works best with your busy schedule.

By essentially making an appointment with vegetarianism, you're confronting the big stumbling block for new Veggies -- planning. Like any new habit, practice makes perfect. Knowing you need a meal plan (or three) a week in advance allows you to browse for recipes well in advance. More importantly, it allows you to shop. ...

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Study up

Going veggie isn't just leaving out the meat. You'll need some balance in your diet -- and variety. Like any new practice, you'll do better with vegetarian cooking if you seek out some instruction.

Here's an excuse to prowl your local new or used bookstore. Vegetarian cookbooks are hot. You'll find everything from books which help you replicate traditional recipes --veggie style -- to ethnic cooking, to the uncharted waters of the truly avant-garde.

And then there's Google. Pop in the search query "vegetarian cooking" and you'll see there are thousands of free resources at your disposal. A few which really stick out: Vegweb's impressive archive of veggie and vegan recipes; VegCooking, with it's magazine-style survey of all things veggie, and the offbeat PostPunkKitchen, a fully vegan site with a lot of attitude and style.

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full story:
http://www.greenoptions.com/blog/2007/05/30/ lighter_footstep_the_easy_way_to_give_up_meat

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