I know I mentioned in my last post that my next one would be about my views on GMOs. Unfortunately, my research took longer than I expected and I didn’t want to skip the weekly meatless Monday post, so the next one will be the GMO one, I promise. Today, as I hope you know by now, was my fourth meatless Monday as chef. I’m definitely getting a little bit more efficient at chopping, tossing, sautéing, etc, you know, the basic things. It’s actually so liberating to feel like I actually know how to cook the basics now. I almost told someone the other day that I don’t know how to cook, because I’m so used to telling people that, but I corrected myself. Of course, I don’t know how to cook meat, but that’s beside, if not counter to, the point. Perhaps I should learn to cook fish though. But not on Meatless Monday.
Anyway, today’s dinner was sort of Middle Eastern/Indian themed. I made “Egyptian” lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions (YUM), spiced with cumin and cinnamon. I swear there are few things I love to eat more than caramelized onions. SO glad I know how to make them now. For our non-starchy vegetable I roasted cauliflower with curry and chopped peppers and onions. Roasted cauliflower is also a delicacy in my book.
I wanted to serve it with naan, a delicious traditional Indian bread, but store-bought naan isn’t the best, apparently. Regardless, the cauliflower came out great. I feel like a pro at roasting now :). The lentil and rice dish came out pretty good too, except that the lentils got a little mushy. I cooked them for the minimum amount of time the recipe suggested, but I guess it was too long. This is why you make notes on the recipe, folks.
I just want to keep reminding you that these are flavorful, satisfying, and healthy meals I’ve been preparing. Check out the other ones here, here, and here. You don’t need meat to enjoy a meal–in fact the one I made today was vegan–or to get enough protein. Actually, you don’t need animal products for any nutrients except perhaps Vitamin B12, but you can get that from a supplement if you’re at risk of deficiency. Again, I don’t advocate everyone cut out animal products from their diets entirely, but in my view plant strong is clearly the way to go for optimal health, among other things, like the following.
Now we get to my reason of the week for eating less meat: overuse of antibiotics and ensuing antibiotic resistance. This, to me, is one of the most terrifying and compelling reasons both to eat less meat in the short term and to reform industrial agriculture in the long term.
Briefly, the problem is that conventional (as in non-organic) farmers routinely put antibiotic drugs in the feed of livestock. Why would a farmer feed an animal a drug if it wasn’t sick, you ask? The conditions the animals are subject to in factory farms are so unnatural and unsanitary that antibiotics are necessary to keep them all from getting sick and dying before they get to our plates. Antibiotics also increase the growth of the animals under these conditions.
So why is this bad? When you start using antibiotics too often and indiscriminately, the targeted bacteria evolve resistance to the drugs. Then you use a different or a stronger antibiotic, and the bacteria evolve resistance to that one too. These drug-resistant bacteria that develop in the animals and the antibiotics themselves end up in the meat (and milk and eggs) sold to us in grocery stores, restaurants, and fast food establishments. As you can imagine, if, or should I say when, these bacteria cause infections in humans, they’re very hard to treat. This is becoming a widespread problem; more and more doctors are diagnosing patients with infections that are resistant to one or more antibiotics. I actually came down with a case of strep throat earlier this year that was resistant to the first antibiotic I was prescribed. Luckily, the second one nipped it. My roommate had an infection that took three drugs to treat.
If this continues, at some point, we are going to run out of effective drugs. It is feasible that we could revert back to a pre-antibiotic age where people die from simple infections that a short time ago were easily cured.
For now, eat less meat, and eat organic when you do. Organic farmers aren’t allowed to give their animals antibiotics unless they’re actually sick, and then the individual animal can’t be sold as organic.
As for the future, we need to speak out. If this problem scares you like it scares me, then support policies that reduce the antibiotics used to farm animals. If this leads to more expensive or less available meat, then so be it. It is kinder, healthier, and more environmentally friendly to sustain the human population on mostly plants anyway. Switch to Meatless Monday!