Local grass-fed beef
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
(image credit: https://magnoliagrassfed.com/)
There is nothing more controversial among climate activists than the sources of protein in your diet. I am wholeheartedly in support of those who choose to be vegan. I've tried several times to become vegetarian and it hasn't worked well for me, because my body doesn't tolerate either beans or wheat, which are both primary protein sources in most vegetarian diets. Ota's body doesn't tolerate either beans or dairy, so she also has trouble being vegetarian. We certainly do eat a "plant-rich" diet, including plenty of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, and gluten-free grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and corn, but we also eat meat, including beef, lamb, poultry, and fish.
Beyond our personal health needs, there is also something to be said for using livestock management as a tool to sequester carbon in the soil. Managed grazing is one of the climate solutions touted by Project Drawdown -- their research indicates that it can sequester up to 3 metric tons per acre per year, and be more profitable than the intensive livestock management practices used in North America today.
I believe that it is important for all of us to take the steps we can take to reduce our climate impact. In our situation, it is easier for us to reduce our use of fuel-based electric power to zero than it is to adopt a purely vegan diet for the sake of the climate. But that doesn't get us off the hook, as omnivores, to reduce the climate impact of our diet.
Our climate step in this area has been to move toward reducing the amount of meat that we eat, and sourcing it from local farmers who use holistic land management tools that sequester carbon in the soil and respect the animals, including rotational grazing, grass finishing, and limiting the number of cattle to those that can live a healthy life on the land, as opposed to the shocking conditions feedlot-finished cattle are subjected to.
1/4 of a grass-fed cow grown by a neighbor is affordable, supplies us with a variety of cuts (including some that might otherwise go to waste, like soup bones), and is sufficient to feed the two of us for a year or two, depending on how often we eat beef. The meat is also better for us, since the cow lived a healthy life and was not fed antibiotics and grains unsuitable for cattle to eat.
We realize that not everyone has the opportunity to buy grass-fed beef from a neighbor's ranch, but for those of us who do, increasing the demand for beef grown in ways that sequester carbon, while reducing our consumption of conventionally raised beef, is an important climate step.