The Memorial Day cookout is basically America’s way of celebrating the beginning of the summer. Whether you’re going to a family dinner, celebrating with friends, or starting a new family, Memorial day gathers people around cold drinks and food hot off the grill. This year, in the spirit of 2019’s focus on all things green, let’s look at some quick tips for greener grilling.
Eat more veggies
First up is the perennial green tip, eat more vegetables and less meat. It gets repeated quite a bit though because of how important it is. A recent study by the peer reviewed and prestigious health and wellness magazine The Lancet found that a healthy vegetarian diet had 42%-84% less environmental impact than a typical healthy US diet and a typical healthy mediteranian diet. Considering that animal production takes up 83% of the world’s farmland while providing only 18% of the calories, it’s easy to see why climate activists like Greta Thunberg are so big on getting people to reduce their meat intake or go vegetarian/vegan. Luckily there are plenty of delicious ways to grill veggies, from the much talked about meat substitute The Impossible Burger to grilled vegetable skewers, there are many options to choose from. And remember that nothing has to be all or nothing in sustainability. If you know your guests aren’t going to appreciate an all-vegan meal, meals with less meat and more veggies to fill them up will still reduce meat consumption overall.
What you grill on is as important as what you’re grilling, both for the environment and for the flavors. Unfortunately traditional charcoal grills are not the greatest for the environment as they release a lot of CO2 into the air. But luckily there are other options. The first major option is of course propane. While it is a byproduct of natural gas production and therefore not “ideal,” it burns much cleaner than charcoal. Electric grilling can be very sustainable if you have a source of green energy to draw from. But if you don’t have a green electric service provider or something like a solar panel installed, it’ll go from being very eco-friendly to very bad for the environment. Finally, if you can’t stand going away from the smoked aspect of grilling over charcoal, there’s always wood pellet grilling. A little on the expensive side and a bit specialized, wood pellet grilling can make for some amazing food with that captured smoke flavor but with much less emissions than charcoal.
Go Local, fair, and reusable
Hitting up the local farmers market should be a must for your memorial day grilling even if you aren’t interested in the environment just because the food is so much better. But remember that food isn’t the only way of going local. Instead of choosing a mass market beer, find a locally brewed beer, and better yet support a micro-brewery. Again, you’ll probably end up with better tasting beer. Going back to the grill argument, Did you know that 90% of propane used in the United States is produced in the United States? Cutting travel time is always going to be good for the environment. If you can’t get local, you can always go fair trade or otherwise sustainable. Finally, remember to use reusables. It’s a pain having to clean up a party’s worth of dishes, but it’s much better for the environment than plastic disposables being left everywhere.
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