SINGLE STEPS: Eating Less Meat
It's Veganuary, so it seems like the perfect time to talk about easing away from meat in our diets. I recently transitioned back to vegetarianism after a health-related break (more here) and I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy I've found the switch. Before my break, I had been a vegan for a year and was vegetarian for the six months prior. (My goal is to ease back into veganism come the summer months.)
The reasons to ease back on meat consumption are many and I won't bore you by repeating them all here; for me, the biggest appeal was knowing my diet would produce far less CO2 and use far less farmland than a traditional omnivore lifestyle. I'm a big believer in the accumulation of small actions, hence why this post is part of my Single Steps series; I think it's more important that a great number of people do what they can, when they can, rather than a tiny minority taking on extreme changes.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on eating less meat.
Before trying anything, I highly recommend finding the Instagram feeds, cookbooks, blogs and YouTube channels that get you excited to try cooking without meat. Many recommend watching documentaries like Cowspiracy and while I think they can be great, I really think the best way to approach lifestyle changes is to be inspired and excited, rather than saddened and angered. I noticed that I became a much better cook when I gave up meat, and I now cook for my family most nights of the week. I've found loads of recipes that I genuinely prefer to their meat-based counterparts. "Giving up" meat actually meant that I gained so much more.
Cookbooks I Recommend: my collection updates are here, here and here
Instagrams: @crueltyfreebecky, @thefirstmess, @hannah__chia, @avantagardevegan
Blogs: Minimalist Baker, Simply Living Vegan
YouTube Channels: Hot For Food, Wild We Roam, Cam and Nina
Ease yourself in. Instead of flipping to veganism overnight, with zero preparation, consider cutting specific meats from your diet, one-by-one; I gave up red meat, then fish, then finally white meat and it was far easier than a sudden switchover. Maybe you give up meat for one day a week, or one meal a day. Maybe you cook a new meat-free recipe every week, rather than forcing yourself to start entirely fresh. Vegetarianism, pescatarianism, flexitarianism, veganism all might be lifestyles that aren't compatible with your own; that's okay. Do what you can, where you can.
Maybe it's a friend, partner, sibling or parent; who ever it is, things are always easier when someone else joins in. My mum and dad have never been full-time veggies but they have let me cook vegan dishes for them the majority of the week. It's so much easier than if I had to cook my own meals completely separately from them. If you can't find someone close to you to partner up with, maybe there's an online friend who is also on a veggie journey that you can check in with on a regular basis. I've had some of the best cookbook and recipe recommendations from the friends I've made online.
VEGGIFY YOUR FAVOURITE MEALS
The beauty of living in 2018 is that you can find vegan or vegetarian alternatives for just about everything. Tesco's Free From cheddar melts as tastily as its dairy equivalent; my favourite curry dishes taste just as good with chickpeas or lentils subbed in. There are vegan chocolate options, ice cream substitutes, ready meal choices now easy to find in most UK supermarkets. Starbucks now offers a vegan baked good. Going veggie won't necessarily mean going without, as there are so many tasty, cheap and readily available options out there.
DON'T SWEAT IT
Don't let anyone make you feel bad for your choices. Our diets are so personal, so individual to each of us; we can't be expected to do everything "perfectly", all of the time. You never have to apologise for your lifestyle decisions.
And there you have it! What are your tips for eating less meat? Come to the comments and do let me know!