In a perfect world, we’d all be eating plants, all the time.
Adopting a plant-based diet is repeatedly shown to be the best individual action you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and fight climate change. Along with improving your health and reducing the suffering of countless animals.
In the real world though, switching your entire diet isn’t easy. Family traditions are built on favourite dishes which usually involve meat. Food represents love and caring for one another, and to change your diet to one that avoids meat feels (at the beginning) like a decision that places an extra burden on those around you to accommodate your non-normal dietary requirements.
And no one likes to be a burden.
Choosing not to eat meat requires us to answer challenging questions from those around us, constantly defending our new-found position.
To put it simply, going against the societal-grain and choosing not to eat meat can be scary.
So I’m here to tell you there is a middle ground that I encourage you to embrace.
You don’t need to go vegan to help save the planet.
Our family made the switch to a plant-based life in 2016 and we’ve never looked back. But previous to that change, I was resistant. I was determined that a Paleo-style diet was the optimal solution for my health and I didn’t want to consider anything else.
I still cared about the environment back then, I just didn’t make the connection between farming animals and the environmental damage that I have now.
if you aren’t ready to give up meat yet, there are alternative solutions. Rules to eat by that don’t disrupt your life, but also increase the positive impact you have on reversing climate change.
Eating ideas to help save the planet
Choose to avoid meat for one day of the week. A great way to experiment with new recipes and slowly build up your confidence, cooking without meat. Check out the website for inspiration.
Meat-free until dinner
Some of you may be doing this already without even realising it. Essentially eat vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch and whatever you want for dinner. If you can avoid meat for 66% of your meals then you are definitely helping to make the world a better place!
Coconut milk coffees
Coffee shops are starting to catch on to the popularity of the dairy-free movement and the vast majority now offer cows-milk alternatives like oat, soy, almond or coconut. Personally, I enjoy coconut milk the best.
If you like a milky coffee in the morning, try making the switch to coconut. Dairy cows produce large amounts of methane and suffer needlessly, repeatedly forced into pregnancy time and time again, only to be separated from their child at birth. Their reward for a lifetime of bearing confiscated children? A trip to the slaughterhouse when their milk production drops.
Give me the coconut milk any day!
Note: Giving up dairy also helped me win my lifelong battle with Eczema. Also, after taking milk and cheese out of my diet, I no longer cough up phlegm every morning like I did for 20+ years of my life. Too much information? Sorry for over-sharing!
Vegan until 5pm
One step up from meat-free until dinner. Also, take out dairy options pre your evening meal. This is easily done for most people by swapping the milk on your morning cereal for plant-based options like almond, coconut or soy.
Save meat for outside the home (restaurants)
Level 2.0 is to stop eating meat, except on special occassions like christmas or other family get togethers, or trips to your favourite restaurant.
Plant-based except for cheese
I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard people say: “I could never go vegan, I love cheese too much.”
Ok cool, so don’t give up cheese. Start by replacing meat with better ingredients like beans, sweet potato, more vegetables and grains like buckwheat, but keep eating cheese whenever you want. No biggy.
The moral of the story is, reducing your meat intake does not need to be a binary (one or the other) decision. It is ok to stick to your guns 90% of the time. You are still making a massive difference to the world, every single time you choose not to eat meat.
If you are ready to switch to plant-based, check out these tips.