I love meat. I have always been particularly partial to a bacon butty, chicken nuggets, or a kebab after a night out (we’ve all been there). If a couple of years ago you asked anyone who knew me how I would fair as a vegetarian, they would probably have laughed. A lot.
I’d never had any serious intentions to go meat-free, but then I started to become aware of the impact of meat farming.
You may have watched documentaries like Cowspiracy which broadcasts some crazily overwhelming figures around the amount of carbon required to get that beef burger onto our BBQ. Research shows that livestock farming produces ‘between 20 – 50 per cent of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions’. Yup, that’s ALL greenhouse gas emissions. (Source http://www.greeneatz.com)
I couldn’t ignore the stats, and after thinking long and hard about how I could make an impact, I decided that the beef burgers and bacon butties were gonna have to go. I knew that if I decided to ‘reduce’ my meat intake, I would likely bend my own rules and end up eating almost as much meat as before, so I knew that the only option for me was to cut it out completely.
The result? Two and a half years, later – I love it!
Cutting out meat has been surprisingly liberating. I’ve been able to explore new dishes and cuisines, which are often so much tastier than the classic ‘meat and two veg’. I’ve definitely spent more time eating out at independent, ethical and innovative cafes and restaurants, rather than going to the same old chains (although if that’s more your thing, they tend to do pretty good veggie and vegan options too). I barely look back, and with the abundance of pretty tasty vegetarian substitutes in supermarkets these days, you don’t feel hard done by when you’re going to a BBQs or treating yourself to brunch.
But, if being a full-time veggie isn’t your thing or giving up meat 100 per cent just isn’t possible, due to lifestyle reasons, then check out some of these ‘flexitarian’ options.
‘Flexitarian’; I love this word, as it covers all manner of things. But the crux of it is that people who call themselves flexitarian have generally got something in common- they are all trying to think consciously about the impact of their diet on the environment. Here are some flexitarian options you could try:
- It can be trickier being a veggie when someone else is cooking for you. How about having a meat treat when you’re a guest, or on special occasions, but cutting out meat from your own personal shopping list?
- Stick to the birds– Eating chicken and turkey has a lower carbon footprint than other meats. Maybe you could make that simple swap to your Sunday roast.
- Meat-free Mondays– this one speaks for itself, try ditching the meat and picking up the veggies/ beans and pulses for one day a week. How about googling a new veggie recipe, you may be pleasantly surprised.
- For a harder challenge, how about meat-free weekdays? (which gives the added bonus of an extra treat to look forward to at the weekends!)
- Challenge yourself– you could just see how long you can manage without meat. If you’re competitive like me, having a competition with a pal to see who can go meat free for the longest may just give you the extra motivation you need. Or if you’re a meat lover and no one believes you could give it up, why not go for the double whammy and get some sponsorship to raise money for a charity too?
- Go ‘cold turkey’ and cut meat out of your diet completely
I challenge you to try it, if you are anything like me, you may find it easier and more rewarding than you think!