“Mommy, look at how adorable those chickens are,” my daughter mentioned during our recent trip to the Oregon Zoo.
I responded, “Yes, they really are cute. It’s kind of sad how we eat them.”
Well, my casual off-the-cuff comment struck a chord with my children. A couple of hours later during lunch, they declared that they wanted to be vegetarians. It just didn’t feel right to them to eat animals any longer. They felt that if they kept eating them, there would be no more animals left.
I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of my five- and nine-year-old children for making the connection between the animals they thought were so cute in the zoo to what they decide to put in their bodies on a daily basis.
I’m not a vegetarian (although I tried for a few months in college), but I recently read a wonderful book called “The Reducetarian Solution” that presents a clever, innovative perspective on the food choices we make. Being a reducetarian offers an alternative solution, allowing people to simply reduce their meat intake as opposed to completely avoiding all meat for the rest of their lives (not such a simple task for everyone). It takes away the pressure and judgement of how much meat we eat. The book’s contributors provide several creative options for reducing your meat intake, such as being a weekday vegetarian, a vegetarian before six pm, or only eating meat on special occasions.
The book and website are informative because they explain the huge impact eating less meat has for us and our planet. Large-scale meat production and consumption is responsible for creating a significant amount of global greenhouse emissions that cause climate change, which harmfully impacts our health and causes animals to suffer. When we choose to eat less meat (such as chicken, beef, and fish) we can start to have a pretty large impact. By not eating meat, each of us can save about 100 animals per year. We will also save money at the grocery store and on doctor’s bills.
Studies show that eating less meat minimizes health problems like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and strokes. Of course, these are issues that we need to address as we get older, but teaching our kids about eating less meat from a young age can help them make healthy choices for a lifetime.
In addition, diets low in animal products also help to reduce obesity, which is a huge problem for children in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with obesity in the United States…