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Dietary Analysis: How much less meat does a less-meatarian eat? 
30th-Jul-2010 02:42 pm
talent, pencil
So, I've been reading Mark Bittman's Food Matters, which is basically an argument for why we should eat less meat and less processed food, followed by some tips, tricks, and recipes designed to help you eat less meat and less processed food. And I got to thinking that if I really wanted to reduce my consumption of meat, it might be nice to know how much I'm consuming right now. Fortunately, I'm in one of my sporadic periods of keeping a food log, so I have data to play with.

So, I went through all my meals in the past week, and tallied up which ones contained meat or other animal products. I also tallied up whole grains, because I wanted something to brag about Bittman is keen on them. I wasn't terribly sophisticated about this - I didn't try to account for quantities - a bit of chicken broth in a soup was tallied as chicken just the same as a sauteed chicken breast. I also didn't attempt to account for snacks - since my snacks mostly include whole grain crackers, hummus, carrots, fruit, yogurt, cheese, or dark chocolate, this means that the tally below somewhat understates the amount of diary that I eat.

So, here's the data for the curious:

Meals containing meat or fish: 11
These broke down to the following types of meat:
Chicken: 5 (in 3 of these, the only "meat" was chicken broth in an otherwise vegetarian soup)
Fish/Seafood: 3
Beef: 2

Meals containing dairy: 11
Meals containing egg: 2

Meals containing no animal products at all: 5 (all of these were breakfast - Oat or rye crispbread topped with hummus)

Meals containing whole grain: 11

I don't know how typical this week has been - I've cooked a lot of lovely veggies from the farmers' market. It would be interesting to repeat the tally in winter. I also think this week's fish consumption is higher than usual. (I'd actually like to increase my consumption of fish, though, as long as it's reasonably sustainably caught fish.)

I have no idea what lessons to draw from this, except that clearly I would fail at veganism. But at least I have some kind of baseline.
30th-Jul-2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
Woodchucks are technically omnivorous, but less than 1% of their diet comes from animals.
30th-Jul-2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
But what do woodchucks put on their granola in place of yogurt?
(Deleted comment)
2nd-Aug-2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, one of the reasons why I'm rather committed to omnivorousness is that a lot of people seem to do better with some animal protein in their diet. Certainly I'd have a lot of trouble maintaining my own low-glycemic index, somewhat carbohydrate-limited diet if I had to entirely eliminate animal products.

I think I could probably cut down on my meat consumption a bit more without causing problems. I'm trying out a few of Bittman's tips and recipes - we'll see how it goes.
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