How and Why I Cut Down Animal Protein

Photo Credit: Free To Use Sounds/Unsplash

Over the years, I’ve reduced my consumption of animal protein and done a pretty good job of finding meat and dairy products that can be traced to humane sources — farms on which the animals are free to roam, eat their natural diets, and nurture their young.

Among other things, COVID-19 has been a class in zoonotic diseases. Since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve learned that COVID-19 joins the likes of SARS, Ebola, Nipah virus, measles, and AIDS, to name just a few, and that the next pandemic could originate in a factory farm. In fact, a new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus, G4, is spreading silently among workers on pig farms in China, and, according to scientists, should be urgently controlled to avoid another pandemic. I’ve also long known that “big ag” produces staggering quantities of waste and greenhouse gases.

As someone who loves animals and is concerned about human and environmental health, I’ve found myself eating more plant-based foods since late March, and I’m loving it. And July Fourth was no exception — our menu this year reflected my evolving “reducetarian” diet. (Yes, reducetarian is a thing.)

We had just a couple of close family members over this July Fourth and kept the festivities to our yard. Other than my dad, everyone was fine with a mostly vegan menu. As Beyond Meat is my favorite plant-based meat brand, we served Beyond Burgers and Beyond Sausages (the Brat Original) from the grill with a wide selection of organic toppings, including GO VEGGIE and Organic Valley cheese slices, and condiments. For dear old Dad (there’s always one, right?), we grilled an Animal Welfare Certified steak.

Less Animal Protein and the Alternatives

Grilling vegetables is my favorite way to eat them, so we threw on some corn, asparagus, and whole tomatoes for sides. We also served a simple salad of red leaf lettuce, cut beets, artichoke hearts, and avocado, in addition to a fruit salad with fresh sliced peaches, strawberries, bananas, and kiwi tossed in a bit of lime and pineapple juice.

To top it all off, we served Goodpop Watermelon Agave popsicles (so good for just 40 calories), Craig’s Melrose Mint Chip vegan ice cream, and, because I don’t think it’s necessary to be all or nothing all of the time, chocolate hazelnut frozen yogurt from Pinkberry.

Like most people I presume, I was worried that I wouldn’t get enough protein from a plant-based diet. However, I just watched The Game Changers on Netflix, which states that this is a common misconception. As a runner trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon in the near future, good nutrition is also a factor in my food choices. This documentary also features dozens of elite and professional athletes who eat completely plant-based and are some of the best athletes in their respective sports. I now think that sticking to a (mostly) vegan diet will be easy for me long after the pandemic is over.

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