I've eaten meat at least twice a day, almost every day, for as long as I've been eating solid foods. I didn't think a meal was complete without the meat element, and would usually plan my entire meals around what type of meat I had a craving for. When I was at university, I would plan out two-weeks worth of meals, all focused on alternating between different forms of meat. And when I went to stay with friends, I reveled in the excuse to have big breakfasts with bacon and sausages.
So why did this meat-obsessed man change his diet so drastically?
Because the world is ending.
Economically speaking, going vegetarian may not have been the best decision I've made in the last few months. I admit that it requires a lot more thought, time and money to follow a primarily plant-based diet. However, the environmental statistics, paired with the animal welfare issues which are still very prominent in our meat and dairy industry, has led me to ditch not only the meat, but also large quantities of other animal products such as milk and eggs.
I know some people think that one person going vegetarian won't have much of an impact on the overall figures, but the statistics are actually quite a lot more impressive than even I first thought. By going vegetarian, an individual can save roughly 100 animals every year. This is all thanks to reducing the amount of water, land and oil resources I'd be consuming, whilst reducing the amount of pollution that would be caused.
Another argument I've heard is that if everyone went vegetarian, then more land would be required to farm all the crops we'd be eating. I think it's easy to look past the fact that the fields and areas of land being used to farm such large quantities of animals, as well as the land on which the slaughter houses etc are built on, could all be utilised for farming crops. In fact, it's livestock farming which is responsible for such huge amounts of deforestation, as the land on which they're reared is first cleared and cultivated, whereas various crops can - and do - grow in all sorts of conditions.
The amount of water required to maintain plant sustenance is, at worst, 10% of that required to produced the same quantity of meat and, at best, only 1%. Considering that there are countries with official droughts, saving water in any way we can is critical at this point and I'm more than willing to do my part to save the planet.
And of course, the emissions produced by a meat diet are incredibly high and can all be reduced by simply cutting down, or in my case cutting out, meat. 37% of methane and 9% of CO2 is produced from the farming of cows and sheep. There is still a chance for us to save the O-zone layer, and to help it to regrow, and reducing the amount of harmful emissions we create is a sure-fire way of doing so.
I'm fully aware that vegetarianism is not for everyone, nor do I believe in coercing others to follow the same dietary lifestyle as I have chosen to take on. However, I do believe that by enlightening others to the benefits, others may find themselves more willing to at least attempt to reduce their meat intake.
So how have I made this an achievable goal for myself?
Well, firstly, I decided not to cold turkey (if you'll pardon the pun). I set myself a 6 month plan in which to slowly eradicate meat from my diet. For the first month, I began by reducing my meat intake from 2-3 meals a day, to just one.
A month later, I cut down again. This is the month I am currently in, and I've cut down to consuming a maximum of 2 meat meals per week. I've found this a lot easier than I had anticipated I would, finding myself often forgetting about my allowance and only having one a week already.
Month 3 will be a consistent 1 meat meal a week, whilst month 4 will only allow 2 a month. By month 5, I'll only be consciously eating meat once a month. However, should I experience strong cravings, I will allow myself a deviation or two. In my final month, I will actively be avoiding meat as much as possible. After these 6 months are over, I should hopefully be entirely meat free and I am extremely excited about this journey I've started along.
That being said, if you're vegetarian and know any awesome recipes that you think will help make this easier for me, please do send them my way via the comments!! I'd love to give some a try and they may even make it into a future blog post!
Peace and love,