What with agribusiness contributing between 17-33% to global carbon emissions, swathes of the Amazon being deforested to grow animal feed and factory farms being generally not very nice places (as well as causing an awful lot of water pollution) then reducing your meat consumption is definitely one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact on the planet. I had a go at this last Summer (and ended up a vociferous vegan!) so here’s a few tips I discovered as I went along:
# Eat Meat
Oh, wait…was that not…Huh. But seriously, eating good quality, locally farmed, organic meat is better all round than any ‘two pork chops for a pound’ deal at Tesco. It might be more expensive, but that leads to buying it less often. Also, one of the first hurdles to reducing anything can be the feeling of deprivation or restriction – by still allowing yourself to eat meat you hopefully won’t be tempted, after a meat-free week, to blow it all on a four-meat kebab. Followed by a meat-feast pizza, topped with beef jerky and crackling…(Sounds like a challenge though, eh?) After I went vegan, I had a hog roast sandwich and rabbit pasta at a local music festival. I knew the meat was locally bred and butchered, and also I originally only planned on being vegan for a week! The hog roast sandwich was to be my ‘Welcome Back’ to the world of seldom-meat eaters. Maybe I’ll have another one this year.
# Cook at Home
At least once a week, make a vegetarian meal at home. Recipes are easily found online, and I highly recommend The PPK for some of the most delicious food you will ever taste, especially the cupcakes. There is very little in the world that is more satisfying than putting effort into something which you then get to eat! Especially if it’s cupcakes. Invite friends around and make a dinner party out of it. (Or a cupcake extravaganza…) Bonus points if you make enough for lunch the next day. I usually knock up a phat stew or soup to last me a couple of days – sweet potato and lentils, it’s all about the cumin.
There are some amazing vegan and vegetarian places out there, which do unbelievable things with food. From the Rootmaster in East London to Bolhoed in Amsterdam, I have never been disappointed by a vegan restaurant! It’s almost as if they have to work twice as hard to overcome general prejudices against vegan food and thus come up with meals which are four times as good as any steak & chips & peas the local pub does. Go! Be inspired. Hit up Happy Cow for veggie restaurants in your area.
# Read more
There is an absolute wealth of vegetarian, vegan and environmental literature on the ‘net. Add Vegan.com to your blog reader or check out RAN, the Rainforest Action Network, for reminders as to why you’re striding past MacDonalds. It’s a sad fact that even locally farmed animals are being fed on soy crops grown in the devastated Amazon region. Having these facts at the tip of your brain also makes it easier in conversations when someone wonders why you’re passing on the Sunday roast.
# Think For Yourself
Is giving up meat really something you can do? Bearing in mind that changing one’s habits is usually a long process then there is little point in beating yourself up over every bacon sandwich. However, if it’s been three months and you’re still eating roughly the same amount then perhaps your energies would be better spent focused on some other area concerning environmental destruction. Getting involved with local activist groups, such as Climate Camp, writing to your MP or going WWOOFing might be more your cup of (organic, fairtrade) tea. As with anything, it’s about what you can and will do.
Too Vegan To Function is comprised of several great articles about inter-acting with others concerning veganism, which is useful to anyone at any ‘level’ of giving up meat.
Let me know how it goes!