Bittman is being compared to Michael Pollan, but they seem to differ in a very critical way. Pollan stresses the production aspect of food and wants people to buy 100% pastured meat. Bittman said in the NPR interview that he thinks it's more important for people to cut back on the amount of meat they eat than to get really worried about the sources. His claim is that on the scale that Americans eat meat (with the rest of the world following our lead), there is no way farmers can keep up with the demand without resorting to confined feedlots and other "factory farming" practices. For this reason, he says, cutting back on the amount of meat and other animal products we eat is important if we want to see changes in the way those products are produced.
Some facts from the interview and another article for the CBC:
Americans raise and slaughter 10 billion animals each year for consumption. If we all decreased consumption of animal products by 10 percent, he says, it "would have both an environmental impact and an impact on all of our mutual health."
These are some serious reasons to look at the amount of meat and animal products in your diet. There's also a more personal reason to follow Bittman's lead -- it may help you lose weight:
I think the recent high-protein diet fads have probably only increased the amount of meat we eat, so it's interesting to hear that you can lose weight while also cutting back on animal products. I also think that for most people these switches would help lower the cholesterol and saturated fat in their diets.
Bittman's book has recipes to help readers make the switch. Here are some things I've tried, and I'd be interested to see what others are doing to reduce the amount of meat, eggs, and dairy in their diets.
- I use Soymilk's Silk creamer for my coffee instead of half and half.
- Most mornings for breakfast, I have wholegrain toast with natural peanut butter.
- I am experimenting to find new bean and whole grain recipes I like.
- I buy flavorful cheeses and grate them on top of dishes with a superfine grater so I use less.
- Stir-fry meals, pasta, casserole, and grain dishes allow you to make a filling dinner with just a little meat or leave it out altogether.
- When dining out, I try to choose vegetarian if there is an appealing option. I love falafel, and many places also have great roasted vegetable sandwiches.