Have you ever considered going vegetarian? I have, for various reasons. I have to admit that the main reason is animal welfare; I have never felt comfortable with the fact that an animal is dying to feed me. Even more than that, the way the animal is treated before it is killed and the way it is killed. But there are also the health and environmental concerns. Also, since becoming more interested in Buddhism and with the first of the Five Precepts (code of ethics) being to abstain from taking life, I feel that I am “cheating” by not including animal lives.
However, I don’t think I will ever really have the willpower to go completely vegetarian. It is a very major lifestyle change and with Mr Monkey being a chef, a rather difficult one in our household. Whilst he understands most of my concerns his training always takes control and it comes down to taste for him.
So, how do I come to terms with all of this? I try to eat meat-free at least once a week (and trying to buy ethically and sustainable produced meat for the rest of the week).
Eating just one meat-free meal a week can make a big difference. Since adding meat-free meals to our weekly meal plans I’ve noticed a reduction in our grocery costs – meat is expensive! It has also forced us to be more creative in sourcing recipes and we are trying meals that we’ve never tried before and learning new cooking techniques.
There are also the health aspects. A recent BBC study* found that adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone’s daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13%, of fatal cardiovascular disease by 18% and of cancer mortality by 10%. That’s a little scary! By simply reducing the amount of meat you eat by one portion a week you can make a big difference to these statistics.
And then of course, there are the ethical considerations – with the affects on animal welfare and the environment. By simply reducing the amount of meat eaten each week can help to ease these considerations. Buying ethical and sustainable meat during the rest of the week can also help.
A big deterrent for many people in going meat-free is actually knowing what to cook. Luckily, the internet is full of great vegetarian recipes and ideas. There are many fanastic vegetarian blogs (The Veggie Mama is one of my favourites) and a lot of the big recipe websites have great vegetarian sections. Most of the recipe magazines that can be found in supermarkets and newsagents are including vegetarian recipes now and of course there are fantastic cookbooks on the market, catering for simple, every day vegetarian recipes or something more fancy.
From the 18th to the 24th March, I’ll be going meat-free for the entire week as part of the Meat Free Week Challenge. This is a great initiative that aims to get people thinking about the amount of meat they eat, and where it comes from. It is not about making people in to vegetarians or vegans, but rather about starting a conversation. It’s a conversation I’d love you to join in with. I’ll be sharing my meal plan for the week as well as some of the recipes I’ll be using and I’d love for you to share any recipes or tips that you have. Follow along on my Facebook page for extra recipes and links to articles and on my Instagram for photos of my meals.
The challenge is also raising funds for Voiceless: “an independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia”.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Andy & Ted (my regular weekly fruit and vegetable box supplier) who have given a rather generous donation to sponsor me and are also sponsoring my fruit and vegetable box for the week. We’ve been using Andy & Ted’s for quite a few months now (close to a year) and we have been more than happy with every single delivery. We usually get the Couples Box which is just the right amount of fruit and vegetables for our week but will be getting a Family Box for the challenge as we will be eating more F&V than usual.
*statistics from here.