Lifestyle, Meat-Free, sustainable living

Meat-Free May: Are you up for the challenge?

After the National Geographic documentary “Before The Flood” piqued our curiosity, we finally decided it was time to take drastic measures. Although we are not confident enough to commit to sustaining a vegan diet, we are excited to try a whole month going “Meat-Free”! Let’s be clear: we are giving up all meat products, however fish, eggs and dairy are still on the menu, though all are ethically sourced.

What on Earth made us want to go ‘Meat-free’?!

It’s quite simple. The more we investigate the causes of climate change, the more it becomes clear that eating meat is just not sustainable. Some of the largest environmental organisations in the world are backed by US funding from the meat and agricultural industries, which means it’s often not in their best financial interest to address the wider issue: the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon, and #1 largest source of greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming, is meat production for human consumption!

Here are some statistics highlighted by the 2014 Cowspiracy documentary to put things in to perspective:

  • Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Livestock covers 45% of the Earth’s total land.
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction.
  • 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second.
  • 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide. More than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour.

The most effective way to make an impact is to stop eating animal products. To put this in to context, the land required to feed 1 person for 1 year on each diet is as follows:

  • Vegan: 1/6th of an acre
  • Vegetarian: 3x as much as a vegan
  • Meat Eater: 18x as much as a vegan

After digesting all of the jaw-dropping facts and theories explored in the documentary, we couldn’t help but feel compelled to give plant-based eating a shot. After all, what have we got to lose (except maybe a few extra pounds)?! Although we don’t feel veganism is a sustainable lifestyle for us right now (we live for milk in our tea and scrambled eggs for breakfast), meat-free is a plausible proposition.

Where did we start?

Failing to plan is planning to fail, so we needed a strategy! First of all, we made a list of all of our favourite meals and worked out how we could still enjoy them as Meat-Free meals, if possible. For example; sausage & mash with Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy is still firmly on the menu, we have just substituted the sausages for a vegetarian variety and use vegetable stock to make the gravy. Then we knew we had to find meals & recipes that we would actually look forward to trying that we’re completely vegetarian. We aimed to have at least 20 recipes on our list to prevent a mid-month lull, plus a range of vegetarian snacks we enjoy. We could then set about making our first week’s shopping list. In the few days leading up to the change, we used up all of the meat & meals in the freezer to make sure we could not be tempted to deviate from the plan. We didn’t want to waste anything, so it was important to plan ahead. Once the decks were cleared, we knew we could begin shopping for our new lifestyle.

So now we’re all set! Tomorrow is day 1 of Meat-Free May! We’ll be sharing our experience, recipes and more throughout the month. If you’re going plant-based too, good luck!

Have you got any recipes to share? Would you go meat-free to save the world? Let us know your thoughts!

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