Updated: Apr 5
I have been asked a lot, especially recently if I've a vegetarian, or vegan. And although the answer is no, it's not a straight forward no- and I thought I'd explain why...
Eating less meat is so easy. Modern day veggie is not eating a bowl of lettuce. This Satay Chickpea Burger from Grill'd (Aus) is freaking amazing.
At University I completed my research project on food sustainability systems, for six months I read every scientific paper possible on tomatoes trying to find out the most sustainable way for humble everyday folk to buy tomatoes in the supermarket. Geeky, I know, but hugely interesting, trust me. Food systems have an enormous impact on our world. Like it or not, almost every single thing we eat has some impact. It is possible to perform Life Cycle Analysis on food items- and whilst studying the impacts of tomatoes, I read a ton about meat production- as this has become a heavily studied aspect of food production.
And the huge majority of scientific research looking at the holistic aspects of production and finds that meat production is exponentially more destructive than grain or vegetable production. Cows for one, produce a lot of methane, which is an extremely potent driver of climate change. Beef is a huge reason for large scale deforestation in the Tropics- the areas of highest biodiversity, but also further driving climate problems. Beef also needs a lot of feed to, well, beef it up for consumption. Problems with eutrophication are also huge with livestock. This is the cliff notes tale of meat production of the environment. Different meat has different impacts, with beef being most destructive, pork and chicken tend to perform better whilst Lamb is hugely dependant on site specifics. Hit up google scholar and read for yourself the enormous impact meat has on our world.
So, meat is bad the environment with some worse than others. It's a pretty good starting point to start thinking about meat consumption, However, long before I started researching the impacts, I had starting reducing how often I ate burgers, simply for the health benefits. Unless you've been living in a cave, you'll know that beef has a lot of fat. Leaner meats such as chicken, turkey and kangaroo (when eaten in Australia) are better for our health, and vegetable/ grain protein and food sources are better again. So as I was visiting the gym 5 times at week at one point- it made sense to adjust my diet, and I stopped my beef heavy dinners and meat with every single meal. Spaghetti Bolognese is the perfect example- and once I swapped out to lentils, or just veggies, a beef bog seemed extremely oily and heavy. So the less beef I ate the easier it became. And then the easier it was to omit chicken and pork.
Soon I had swapped out meat in most of my normal recipes for veggies alternatives. Two benefits came about for me directly from doing this. I felt much healthier and I saved a sh*t ton of money- something that has come in real handy when traveling on a budget and living as a student. And so, it stuck. Eating little meat benefits my health, saves me money and eases my enviro- conscience. Veggie food is also unbelievably delicious (whilst is the most important part to be honest....)
Veggie food is so delicious and easy to meal prep with. Falafels are sent from heaven.
But sometimes I crave meat. Mostly chicken. My favourite is buying a whole chicken, roast it for dinner, use meat for curry the next night (that might then last two nights) and the boiling up the bones and making a hearty veggie filled soup. Those soups then make 4/5 dinners- meaning you stretch a chicken for up to ten meals (super super cost effective but nutritious!) I also eat meat out when I've known it's source. In an ideal world we'd go back to meat production on a local scale and meat production wouldn't be so bad. So if the meat is from a great source and LOCAL I might eat it whilst out to dinner as a treat. Kind of freeganism I suppose.
So there we have it. I eat less meat- but still do eat it! I wont let meat go to waste- and still freaking adore cheese but just eat it less. But this also raises an important point, that the fact that I don't eat meat with every single meal every day is apparently unusual. Part time veggie maybe, but I think its actually more likely the natural norm. An omnivore.