Wednesday 2 January 2019

Eating Less Meat - Why and How

For the sake of our health those of us in rich countries need to eat less meat.
For the sake of the climate those of us in rich countries need to eat less meat.

Raising animals for meat consumption is an inefficient process which causes significant harm through the emission of large amounts of greenhouse gasses, whilst at the same time reducing the amount of land available for other uses.

The consumption of meat at our current level is also a significant risk factor for cancer, and a contributory factor in the obesity crisis. And that's without considering the effects on food quality and animal husbandry which large-scale low-cost production implies.

So what is to be done?

Become a vegan? Well I'm not in any hurry to become a vegan; I dislike the current polarisation in politics, and this extends to food politics. Why do I have to either be a vegan, or eat animals as if they're going out of fashion? Veganism has its own problems - the potential increase in food miles and the growth in factory-made "meat substitutes" are a couple.

I was a vegetarian for about fifteen years, and although I eat meat and fish again now, it's in much smaller quantities. In our house we very rarely cook meat, but don't have any rigid rules. We'll go out for Sunday lunch and have a roast dinner, and get fish and chips on a Friday. If we see a nice jar of French Duck Paté in Lidl we might buy it, but it won't be on the shopping list. Meat is part of our diet, not the basis of it.
I've never understood why, if you say you don't like carrots, say, or onions, people fall over themselves to accommodate you. But if you say you don't like meat, then you're either a weirdo or looked up to as virtuous. Why? Its just an ingredient.
My philosophy is that the best, and for most people easiest, approach to reducing meat consumption is to see it like that - as an ingredient with the same status as any other expensive ingredient. If you buy meat, buy nice stuff in small quantities and use it occasionally. With that approach I believe that we can all enjoy a tasty, healthier diet which is better for the planet and even save some money along the way. What's not to like about that?

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