Photo from cover of Pollen's In Defense of Food.
Although most of the writers at The CitiZine are vegetarians, we know there can be environmentally-friendly eating habits outside of that lifestyle. We wanted to share some tools to help you make eco-conscious decisions about what you eat as a flexetarian (eating more flexibly with regards to vegetarianism, but still are concerned about sustainability):
Not a Vegetarian?
There are many benefits to humans giving up meat (GoVeg.com has a list of nine convincing issues, and this 2008 Guardian article reports on a UN expert's call to reduce red meat consumption), but that doesn't mean you can't be a conscious meat-eater. If you love eating meat, perhaps consider more eco-friendly options at the grocery store, and focus on meat that is organic, grass-fed, or locally-produced. It is fairly difficult to find a simple resource on what meat is best for the environment, since most sites focus on giving up meat, but Greenerchoices.org has this helpful tool for deciphering labels on food packages (i.e. What exactly does "free-range" mean?).
Eating Seafood Sustainably
What about seafood instead of red meat? Our aquatic ecosystems are in peril for a variety of reasons (oilspills, overfishing, pollution, etc.), but if you still crave seafood now and again there are ways to make choices without exploiting our ocean's resources. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch that makes recommendations for an environmentally-friendly meal. It rates the fishing or farming practices and organizes the results so that you can check whether your favorite seafood is a sustainable choice. There's even an iPhone app and printable format so that you can check while grocery shopping!
If you are interested in learning more about sustainable food practices, we recommend a couple documentaries that discuss the issues of the food industry. Food, Inc. is an Academy Award-nominated documentary that follows different issues related to the environment and food corporations. No Impact Man is not solely focused on food, but buying locally and community gardens are part of the family's work towards living sustainably (you can also follow the No Impact Man blog: http://noimpactman.typepad.com/)
Some books we've found helpful include:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Ominvore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollen
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollen
Do you have any interesting articles or resources related to sustainable eating practices? Please comment and share with us!