Ready, Set, Green: My Eight-Week Journey To A Greener, Guilt-Free Me

Ready Set Green Red Meat photo graphic

The thing I love about Graham Hill and Meaghan O'Neill's "Ready, Set, Green" is that when you have a book that is so positive and filled with easy tips, getting green and guilt-free seems like a breeze.

Meat makes the meal?
Except that in the second week of following the book's advice, I'm a bit in the doldrums. What I thought would be so easy - i.e. "Week 2: Eating Your Way Green: Food and Drink" is turning into a mental tug of war. As I first read the tips' list "Save The Planet In 30 Minutes Or Less" at the end of the chapter, I figured no sweat. Buying organic fruits and veggies check. Local farmers markets, reusable grocery bags check check. Yet the two most severe challenges in my weekly food fight - plastic packaging and meat - can I really budge on those? The Omnivore's Dilemma, indeed.I have my special circumstances - don't we all? - in that I'm allergic to gluten, which cuts down the grainy possibilities, and have three committed meat eaters sharing the dining room table. I decreed (and so they agreed) that one night without meat was okay. That experiment led to substantial salads with beans and cheese chunks thrown in (oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes and avocados are my new best friends!) but ended in my sons raiding the fridge for cold cuts (and a stick of butter) so they could fill up after dinner on a few sandwiches.

Meat as condiment
So my meal planning changed a little. What seems to work better than to try to ditch the meat is to eat more veggies and fruits before the meat "course". I put out cucumbers, carrots, or edamame on the table which we eat before the meat. I think that practice is going to evolve into an actual first course. Kid-friendly (well okay, one kid liked it) vegetarian course of the week: sauteed Greek haloumi cheese with a side salad of local tomatoes.

And then the question arises in my mind - my less-meat shopping cart has a lot more imports - haloumi, avocadoes, sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Could that be better than hamburgers from local (less than 100 kilometers) grass fed cows? I have to leave it to the life-cycle gurus.

Biodegradable packaging plus or minus?
Trying to cut packaging was also a very mixed deal. I got some small cotton bags for produce, a plus, but in my efforts to plan meals and shop fewer times it seemed like I just ended up with a counter full of plastic packaging. It makes me feel surly toward food producers. The only packaged item I willingly eschewed was pre-cut wedge fries (organic). On the bright side: a Swedish trend for biodegradable product bags. But the biodegradable bags now mouldering (hopefully) in my compost bring a new quandary: can a basic backyard composter handle at least six of those a week?

Of Ready,Set,Green's 14 recommendations in Chapter 3, I'd say I was semi-successful at four. And I can't say my guilt was much reduced. However, I made some baby steps. And it does make the prospect of moving on to Week Three "Greening Up Your Act: Cleaning and Interior Décor" seem like a welcome diversion. If you are following, tell me your stories.

Eating Green:
How To Green Your Meals
Green Basics: Organic Food
Green Basics: Local Food
Meat photo credit: Tom Schierlitz/Getty Images

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