“Today only 55% of the worlds’ crop calories feed people directly; the rest are fed to livestock (about 36%) or turned into biofuels and industrial products (roughly 9%). Though many of us consume meat, dairy and eggs from animals raised on feedlots, only a fraction of the calories in feed given to livestock make their way into the meat and milk that we consume. For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef.”
You’re probably asking yourself – So what does that have to do with my backyard barbecue?
It is summertime and the living is easy and you’ve probably been grilling quite a bit lately. Maybe you’re getting tired of the same old roster of burgers, steaks, dogs and chops. Taking that quote from the National Geographic article into your head when planning meals might help you get out of your meat-heavy grilling routine. Here are a few alternatives that you should consider for the grill.
Eggplant is no stranger to the grill but have you ever sliced it, salted it, grilled it and then made baba ghanoush with it? Try that sometime, you won’t believe how good it is. The smokey grilled flavour makes it the best baba ghanoush you’ve ever had.
Everybody grills corn of course, but usually just to eat corn on the cob with a side of steaks or hot dogs. Did you ever think about grilling a whole big bunch of ears and after grilling, cutting all those kernels from the cob and then using them to make a complete protein with beans and rice for other meals? Grilled corn has so much more personality than a can of creamed corn or a bag of frozen niblets.
Grilling pineapple and watermelon sounds crazy but it is actually delicious – especially in a salad with feta, red onion and cilantro and parsley. Avocado too seems like it would never work on a grill but try grilling halved avocados, still in their skin, and then stuffing them with a crab or lobster salad.
“Finding more efficient ways to grow meat and shifting to less meat-intensive diets — even switching from grain-fed beef to meats like chicken, pork or pasture-raised beef — could free up substantial amounts of food across the world.”
Have you ever tried grilled chicken livers? They are amazing. Delicious, inexpensive, readily available and super easy to grill. The same is true with many other types of offal including sweetbreads and hearts. In this recipe for Food and Wine, acclaimed chef Andy Ricker marinates the livers in garlic, cilantro, fish sauce & soy for 30 minutes before threading them on wooden skewers and grilling like kebabs.
You can also wrap them in bacon and grill them, here’s an exhaustive essay on how to do just that from Serious Eats.
We have to change the way we think about food and that is hard when it is something that we so often take for granted, but even an act as simple as incorporating Meatless Mondays into your diet, or switching from grain-fed to pastured beef – is not only good for you and your family but for the greater good of everyone on the planet.
*you can read the full National Geographic article here