I love meat. Okay, I said it. I love the taste and texture of meat. It’s juicy and yummy and versatile and… I don’t eat it. Choosing to not eat meat was really hard for me because I am a self-confessed foodie and meat-lover, but being environmentally conscious is very important to me, so here I am. I’ve already written a post about my journey to veggie-hood so, if you’re interested, you can give that a read here.
Since writing that post I’ve become really passionate about the importance of eating less meat. The meat industry adds to greenhouse gases, deforestation, and uses up more resources than crops, and on top of that, the way we slaughter animals is completely unethical. Animals have feelings y’all, and two years ago I would have got so defensive if someone said that to me, but it’s true.
This article by the National Geographic discusses a scientific report which states that we need to cut down our meat consumption by 50%. There really isn’t time to put off lowering how much meat you buy. Climate change is happening, and we need to do something about it now.
A lot of people like to argue that there’s no point lowering meat consumption because the impact of fossil fuels is far worse for the environment. And it’s true that burning fossil fuels is much worse. But that doesn’t mean lowering meat consumption won’t make any change. Not buying meat is something anyone can do, whereas how we use fossil fuels is something that only the Government and corporations can do anything about. So why wouldn’t we make the changes that we can make?
But, I know how hard it is to give up meat when you are a meat-lover. So here are my top tips on giving up meat gradually.
Cut out types of meat one by one.
Out of all the meats, beef production contributes the most to global warming as cattle produce methane and require much more space and water than pork or chicken. When I started my flexitarian diet I cut out beef, pork and lamb in one go. I rarely ate lamb and beef anyway, so it didn’t seem like a massive change, and, in terms of pork, there are a ton of veggie sausage/bacon replacements which I actually ended up preferring to the real thing.
After you conquer cutting out those meats, you can think about not buying chicken, duck etc.
Don’t beat yourself up for not sticking to your new diet.
It’s a process and it’s hard. All of a sudden you can’t have your favourite meal at that restaurant you like, or your favourite sandwich from Tesco, and that’s really hard to get used to. It took me a long while to cut out fish, and I’m still not sure if I can say good-bye to salmon forever.
Just remember that if you do slip up, no one is judging you. Just trying is the best thing you can do, and if you’re too strict with yourself then you’re more likely to give up all together when you go wrong.
Work out whether you actually like that meal because of the meat, or just what the meat is cooked with.
When I gave up chicken I had to say goodbye to so many sandwiches I love. It took me ages to get used to, and then I realised that I actually just love the condiments that go with the chicken. I love mayo, (very white girl of me, I know), I love pesto and tomatoes, and I love fried things.
Try cooking your favourite meal with a replacement vegetable like cauliflower, or a meat replacement product like Quorn and cook it in the same way. You’ll probably really like it.
Eat meat replacements.
Meat-eaters love attacking meat replacements, and I don’t understand it – yes, I’m looking at you, Piers Morgan. Somehow, they can’t understand that someone who doesn’t eat meat might still like the taste. Before I went veggie, cheeseburgers were my fave food of all time. But, I don’t miss them because Linda McCartney veggie burgers are amazing. Don’t feel like a fraud just because you don’t always eat a plate of straight vegetables for dinner.
Listen to your cravings.
9 times out of 10, if you’re craving something meaty it’s because your body is telling you it needs some extra nourishment. It’s likely you’re not getting as much protein, iron, or zinc in your diet. So, try cooking yourself a meal filled with these nutrients. Lucky for you, most foods that are high in protein are also good for iron and zinc. Try beans, whole grains like quinoa, eggs, nuts, seeds, chickpeas and lentils. If the cravings don’t fade, you might have to visit your GP and discuss supplements.
I hope this helps. Again, I know how hard it is to be told you need to change something about your diet. You don’t need to cut meat out overnight. It’s a gradual process and just trying at all is a great help to the environment.