The debate on being vegetarian, the health of our meat, the sustainability, the nutritional factors, all of these wage war against the grill as we know it.
Every country eats meat, some countries choose a different part of the animal out of either preference or necessity because of availability of enough meat to get required protein. Millions of people rely on foods that we typically throw out in our society.
Sweetbreads and other organs like liver, chitlins and tripe may not be popular fare here but they are relied upon elsewhere as source of nutrition and protein. Would you be open to grilling tongue, brains, sea urchins and chicken feet? You may if your food source began to deplete your planet’s ability to sustain itself waned.
Although statistics cite Americans are eating approximately 40 percent less beef now than in 1976, (a peak consumption year, probably because of the myriad of fast food chains), we have to consider that there are many more North Americans population wise in the year 2014 and perhaps we are discovering alternatives to just steak and burgers.
Even with Master Chefs and cuisines from around the world available to us, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer and producer of beef in the world. Spending about 11-15% of income on food, Americans may spend less on the food they eat than their counterpart families in other countries. However, overall, Americans buy more meat.
As beef has become the source of a fierce debate for economic, socio economic, and environmental reasons many are looking to alternative sources of food which may not necessarily contain traditional meats. Industrial scale beef production is labelled as cruel subjecting cattle to confinement and terrible deaths. It is also cited as taking up land we could be using for growing other foods to feed more people and it causes global warming. As more and more people become educated, we are finding a greater number of vegetarians or weekend meat eaters.
Like everything, meat production has a footprint and an impact on our planet.
Beef cattle production and raising livestock includes pasture and cropland for growing feed. The water used for irrigating the land for cattle feed uses almost three times more water than all other foods combined so are we wasting valuable water resources so we can continue to consume so much beef?
The developing nations are increasingly looking to meat as they become more prosperous, especially beef. But access to water for feeding cattle does not increase. Although eating meat for many nations is now affordable, is it sustainable?
In some countries, or even areas of North America, religious views can have a polarizing effect on meat consumption as can health concerns. In North America rising cholesterol stats have turned many to chicken as a meat option. In the next 35 years the world’s population will likely surpass nine billion people. That means increased livestock and crop production to feed that livestock for human consumption. But what would happen if the entire developed world were to cut its consumption of all meat by half?
More and more developed countries are looking to alternatives for food sources. The art of crafting food from what used to be mundane side dishes has enabled us to see the alternatives to just grilling meat. We now look to the oceans, the forests and the earth for ideas and nutritional needs.
Perhaps the answer is not in cutting out meat consumption all together but combining it with the so many other foods we can use to meet our health requirements.
If you’re new to alternative grilling and don’t know what to grill to get that protein substitute from meat you can try tofu and eggs. They are perfect choices for immediate replacement but certainly you can grill vegetables and toss them with nuts or grains to get the added protein and reduce the amount of meat you eat.