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Where's the Beef? Not On My Plate!

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You can't seem to get away from the god's-honest truth lately: beef is bad. Not only beef, but chicken, pork, fish -- all you hear nowadays is how "cattle farming uses too much fossil fuels!" "Chickens are being horribly abused in tiny cages!" "We are overfishing the world's oceans!" So what's the responsible meat-eater to do? You could go vegetarian, and it's a respectable choice. But what if you just really love your bacon, and your sushi, and your slow-braised pork? What if you want to have your beef and eat it too? Turns out, you can eat smarter meat.

An article in this week's New York Times offers some great suggestions for those omnivores among us who want to cut down on their meat consumption, but need some direction. Mark Bittman, cookbook author and columnist, has some practical advice that hinges around one major point: just buy less meat, buy more vegetables, and learn how to cook them properly: "Build the meal around what you used to consider side dishes — not only vegetables, but also grains, beans, salads and even dessert, if you consider fruit a dessert — rather than the meat. Nearly every culture has dishes in which meat is used to season rice or another grain. Consider dirty rice, fried rice, pilaf, biryani, arroz con pollo: the list is almost endless."

Does that lasagna you're making really need ground beef, or will a nice mix of cheeses suffice? And that pot of chili -- how about adding more beans and less meat? You're not only going to save the world, but you're saving calories and money as well. When you do buy meat, spend more money on the organic stuff, so you'll be more likely to use it carefully, and it will become a treat instead of a staple.

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