A few people have laughed and others have just smiled, while others still have inquired further, and these are the ones I am writing for. The ones who ask “What is a sustainable-arian?”
I made this decision to become a sustainable-arian as I learned more about the truly unsustainable practices that we presently practice in obtaining food. Namely, the practice of raising animals for meat is one that poses threat not only to our environment but to our resources of freshwater, our resources of clean air and can impact global climate change. Furthermore, many of the manners in which we catch particular seafood, such as shrimp, which are caught through bottom trawling, is unsustainable. Not only does bottom trawling (which is dragging a weighted net along the ocean floor to catch the desired fish) kill habitats and destroy critical marine ecosystems, but it also has the highest rate of by-catch out of any form of fishing. Up to 90% of the trawl’s catch is often by-catch: sea-turtles, fish, marine birds and even marine mammals. By the time the nets are dragged up, the by-catch is already dead having been dragged along the ocean floor, and the habitats are destroyed.
As for the land-dwelling creatures, it can require 518 gallons of water for one pound of chicken! How much did that quarter pounder from a fast food joint cost? 461 gallons of water! And for a whole pound of beef it costs 1,847 gals of water. Where does this gallon count come from? Primarily, they come from the amount of water needed to grow corn and grasses in dry climates that feed the beef over it’s lifetime, as well as the costs of it’s drinking water and the cleaning and processing of meat. The impact of meat goes beyond the water, and we have all heard that “going Organic” is better, but it’s hard to control secondary consumers. What I mean is this: while you can pick organic produce to put in your diet, cows cannot and do not, therefore the feed they are given is not always certified organic (though it CAN be), but the runoff from chemicals that are sprayed on the feed can effect ecosystems and organisms further along than we realize when we bite into that burger. Make sure you do your homework and think before you buy or eat and with listed stores and details on what qualifies as organic a good place to check is http://www.organic.org/home/faq.
Lastly, I want to say, I’m saying trying to be a dirty hippie, and I’m sure there are many more ways I can take steps to be more sustainable (and I’m open to suggestions!) but more than anything else it’s empowering to make a statement with my diet. I have some suggestions too, eat organic, wild-caught or if we’re feeling adventurous consider eating an insect or two (thousand?), they use far less water, energy and have higher protein content! Some foods that are far more sustainable that may appeal to you more include: Wild Caught Salmon, Mussels, arthropods or fishhook caught or farmed, for more details on sustainable and safe seafood choices visit http://www.seafoodwatch.org or http://www.fishwatch.gov.
Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, organic eater or sustainable-arian is to know that you have a large impact based on your choices. It’s empowering to be conscious of the choices I make at the grocer or going out, and when people notice and ask, it’s a chance to educate about conservation and making positive, sustainable impact. Because when you have the power to choose what’s on your plate, why not pick something that makes an impact far longer than the taste lingers on your tongue?