Weekend Dish column: Where’s the beef? Does it matter anymore? | PostIndependent.com

Weekend Dish column: Where’s the beef? Does it matter anymore?

Climate change is a hot topic. The science is real, but the politics for change are still up in the air. The doomsday clock ticks closer to zero while the thermometer rises.

We live in the age of the Anthropocene, where humankind is reshaping the global environment to our peril.

According to a recent climate report by NASA, climate change is already measurably damaging the global environment. Glaciers are retreating, polar ice is disappearing, corals are dying and severe storms are becoming even more intense.

The four hottest years in recorded history have occurred within this decade, and 2019 is shaping up to burn through more records. Climate change is directly connected to environmental health, and some scientists even speculate that we are in the midst of the sixth extinction in the history of life on this planet. Bees are dying, and we could be next. 

This cataclysm is no mystery. Scientists in the past precisely predicted these things would happen if we continued to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Gases such as carbon dioxide and methane trap the sun’s energy into our atmosphere and heat our planet.

The more gasses that we produce, the hotter our world becomes. These gasses create a cycle of feedback loops and disrupt climate systems that will increasingly wreak havoc worldwide.

It can be very easy to feel hopeless or become complacent. I worry for our children, and I fear that the adults in power are not doing enough to mitigate this unfolding catastrophe.

We all need to take better care of our dying planet. While our political and corporate leaders need to address climate change, individually we can also reduce our carbon footprints.

Beyond Sausage
Jordan Callier photo

Meatless solution

How can you reduce your carbon footprint significantly? It’s simple. Eat less meat or none at all.

According to data compiled by The New York Times, meat production is estimated to cause up to 25% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Beef production has the most significant ratio of pounds of carbon dioxide per serving. Everything from transportation to cow flatulence adds to this number. It takes more land, energy, and water resources to produce it.

Eating less beef and dairy would have the most significant reduction of CO2 for most people in industrialized countries.

One of the most popular excuses that people use to justify eating beef is the lack of tasty alternatives. In the past, if you wanted meatless meat, you would have to settle for tofu or something more akin to fabricated cardboard.

All American barbecue fixins’
Jordan Callier photo

Luckily for us and the planet, a meatless revolution is commencing.

Within the last few years, a surge of meatless protein products became available to consumers. Two of the most well-known brands are Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat.

Such products have been popping up everywhere, from fast food joints to our local City Market. These offerings may not be healthier than real meat, but they are estimated to have one-tenth of the climate impact of real meat. There are more meatless options than ever.

A variety of meat substitute products at a local grocery.
Jordan Callier photo

City Market has a range of selections that include meatless sausage, “chicken” nuggets or strips and “beef” crumbles. The store has also recently started carrying Beyond Meat products that include hamburger patties and sausages. Soon, Kroger will also introduce its in-store brand of meatless products. Look for these on the shelves at City Market.

Natural Grocers is also an excellent resource for vegetarian or vegan alternatives and offers many of the selections mentioned above. It is also gearing up to sell meatless “turkey” for the holiday season soon, while many products are sourced locally.

The local marketplace is offering more and more meatless alternatives for even the most devout carnivore. But do they taste good?

I have certainly had mixed results with meatless products, but it is important to keep an open mind for the health of our planet.

I have not had a hamburger in years, and I do miss eating them. I was excited to learn that Beyond Meat was now available locally in Glenwood Springs. I want to share my first experience of eating Beyond Meat with you.

Flipping burger patties.
Jordan Callier photo

Beyond Beef products are found in the meat section at City Market. They are a little pricey, and I paid $9 for something that would only make four patties. I was also put off by the smell and texture, which is strongly reminiscent of real meat. Beyond Beef is a fantastic facsimile of beef, but it may scare some vegans away due to its realism.

I prepared these for my vegan friend, Angie Bagen, and myself. She was also a little freaked out by the smell and texture, but she kept an open mind. These hamburgers took very little preparation. I divided them into quarters, rolled them into balls, gently flattened them and threw them on the grill.

They held up very well and did not fall apart. The patties also charred nicely, and the smell improved. I served them on a toasted bun with vegan cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and pickles.

Jordan Callier photo

“I was a little hesitant to try these at first, but I ended up liking them,” Bagen said. “In the future, when I crave meat, I will have these again.”

What we eat is a moral choice. Not only does food affect our health, but it dramatically impacts our climate. We are living through a climate emergency, and sometimes it feels like we are powerless while things fall apart. We absolutely must push our leaders to do more, but we can also make better personal choices.

The tons of carbon dioxide produced by our meat production is unjustifiable and a luxury we cannot afford. Beef is the worst culprit. The marketplace is beginning to respond to this emergency, and we now have palatable choices available.

Eat less meat for your health. Eat less meat for your planet. Eat less meat for your children’s future.

Where’s the beef? It doesn’t matter when we have so many tasty alternatives.

Jordan Callier is an avid foodie and business owner in Glenwood Springs.

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