If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a real conversation here. Because if by “A New Shade of Green” you mean this blog applies to everyone, then you can’t go around saying things like it’s easy to give up beef -- it’s not. If we are going to make real progress on reducing our emissions -- and I do tend to believe the science -- then we have to first acknowledge that it is not easy to give up. (I feel the same way with all the people saying it’s easy to bike more, but that’s another topic.) I’ll tell you why it’s hard, at least for me.
First of all, beef is an important part of my family’s “culture”, for lack of a better word. I can’t imagine a summer barbecue without burgers, Christmas without prime rib, a football game without tri-tip. It’s how I was brought up, it’s what I know, and it’s what I’m teaching my kids. I don’t want to give those up, and in fact I resent it some when people say how easy and great it is to give it up. I like beef. More than that, it’s a part of who I am.
Second, I’ve been hearing from my doctor for years that I should go easy on red meat. So if that hasn’t made enough of an impact, why would hearing something even more distant, about climate and planetary health, suddenly move me to action? It’s not that I’m lazy or dumb, or even that I don’t care. It’s just that I’m trying to eat less sugar, and exercise more, and get off my phone, and spend more quality time with family, and … It’s a lot to take in. And too much for me to “fix” all at once.
Finally, even when I do try, I don’t know if I’m a picky eater or what, but tofu is just not something I’m interested in eating. I’ve tried it, and it’s not for me. I really don’t know how to make beans, and don’t they make you, uh, gassy? I had vegetarian chili recently, and it was good, but it took forever to make. A steak, you just put it on the grill, and it’s done! I could eat more pasta, but my doctor says not to eat more pasta. Or bacon. Or eggs. Or fried chicken. And how many ways can you eat boiled chicken?
So if you (we) want Americans to make this change -- and I can see why that’s desirable -- we have to start with the presumption that it is not easy, and figure out how to make it easier. What if stores just wouldn’t sell it? That would help me for sure. I guess another idea would be to jack up the price, but I think I’d just be annoyed at “big government” telling me what to eat. Better to not see it at all. I suppose if meat made us sick -- remember mad cow disease? -- then that would certainly help me eat less, though that is a pretty dumb idea. What could we do that’s more positive? I don’t know. I’m just saying, this is the kind of thing we should be thinking about, if we really want to see a big change. And I think we do. But relying on people’s good intentions, when there are already so many, many people asking for our good intentions, isn’t going to cut it.
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