Meat production is responsible for 13-18% of greenhouse gases around the world. But if like me, you’re a meat lover, it’s really hard to just give up on it! If you want to make a small change with important benefits both for your health and for the environment, here are a few tips on how to do it well and actually enjoy it!
By going flexitarian, I’ve discovered many ingredients I hadn’t considered and have opened a world of opportunities in my cooking.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: by choosing plant-based alternatives and/or
- Get healthier: less meat means less fats (and especially saturated fats), which in the long-term reduces your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases.
- Replace meat with legumes where you can: lentils & beans are high-protein, full of nutrients, extremely varied in both taste, shape, colour and cooking method. Ex: Brown lentils in bolognese; black bean quesadilla/burrito; mushroom, borlotti beans & stilton pie
- Avoid too much of highly processed meat alternatives: soy-based products are a blessing sometimes (Linda McCartney’s sausages are very convincing, and Honest Burgers’ Beyond Meat burger is out of this world) but like everything, abusing it is more detrimental than beneficial. Think of monoculture crops of soy & palm destroying forests – far from ideal.
- Choose the lesser of evils: If you want meat, consider that some meats have got a far lesser carbon footprint than others: beef & lamb are the worst offenders, followed by pork, and poultry is among the lowest. Fish is much lower so a good option, but fisheries create other issues to bear in mind.
- Buy local and/or small production: I buy fish at my local market – I know the fisherman knows where, how and when the fish was caught and fishes in small quantities and mostly line-caught. The butcher raises his animals at his farm in Kent and gets the meat cut in his farm. It is more expensive than in a supermarket but – oh – so much tastier! Once you’ve tried it, you’ll realise that the difference in quality far surpasses the difference in price.
- Look for the vegetarian options: we are blessed, in London, af abundance of vegetarian options in most restaurants. Give it a go: I discovered dishes I would have never thought about and that were far better than the meat option I would have gone for. Next time you go for Indian food, try a Paneer Curry or Dhal instead of your Tikka Massala – you won’t regret it!
- The Guardian – Could flexitarianism save the planet?
- Skeptical Science – How much does animal agriculture and eating meat contribute to global warming?https://skepticalscience.com/animal-agriculture-meat-global-warming.htm
- BBC – Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?