Earlier this year, Changeworks’ Deputy Chief Executive Liz Partington shared some of the actions we can all take to play our part in tackling the global climate emergency. Here we look at another of those actions in more detail: eating less meat.
It’s now pretty well accepted that our current levels of meat consumption are environmentally unsustainable. Research in October 2018 said that a significant reduction in meat eating was “essential” to tackle the climate emergency. Meat production and transportation are hugely carbon intensive.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all or nothing – we don’t all have to go vegan to do our bit (though it’s a great option!) The good news is that there’s never been a better time to cut down on meat. There are more alternatives, more resources, and more approaches than ever before. So to help you navigate making climate-friendly choices, we’ve assembled some top tips to get you inspired to take on the challenge.
Do it gradually
For most people, meat will always have been a staple of your diet. Changing the habits of a lifetime don’t need to happen overnight, so the best thing to do is cut things out gradually. Think about the easiest thing to give up, like switching out mince or sausages for a vegetarian alternative. You’ll find tons of options out there these days, so if one doesn’t work for you then try another! You’re bound to find something you like after a little trial and error.
Maybe you could think about your lunches. If you have a sandwich every day, there’s plenty of meat-free roots to go there – whether it’s a meat-alternative, or something that avoids meat altogether.
Keep it varied
One of the best things about challenging yourself to change your eating habits is broadening your horizons – but it can be easy to cling on to the first thing you find. If you have an early success, don’t eat it so much you get bored with it. Instead, take your taste buds on an adventure and try loads of stuff you haven’t before.
Whether it’s new pulses or grains, new vegetables, or proteins like tofu and seitan, there’s a big wide world of meat-free awesomeness out there!
Think about your meat
If you’re not going to cut out meat entirely, make sure the meat that you are eating is as environmentally friendly as it can be. If you cut out a bunch of the meat you eat but the remaining meals are using meat flown in from overseas, that’s still really bad for the planet.
Eat local, eat seasonal, and don’t overdo it – once you’ve got confident with meat-free cooking, you’ll realise just how little meat you need to add to something to get the taste and flavor you’re looking for.
Go your own way
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to how to cut down your meat. Some people love meat substitutes because it’s easy to make the swap, while others prefer to stay away from processed options. Some people cut out things like sausages and mince because they are easy to swap and heavily processed, while others will look at meats that have the most environmental impact (like beef and lamb) and ditch those first.
It’s all about finding what works for you. If you cut meat out of even one meal a week, good job! Everyone has to start somewhere – and once you’ve seen how easy it is, hopefully you’ll be inspired to do more. If you fancy a real challenge, Veganuary is just around the corner… or maybe start with a New Year’s resolution to do Meat-Free Mondays?
Hopefully we've inspired you to eat a little less meat, and see what’s out there to help you do it. It’s one of the best things you can do to help tackle the climate emergency – and you can do it without even leaving the house! What are you going to do to cut down your meat intake? Tell us in the comments below, on Facebook, or tweet us.
This is the final blog in a series of posts on practical actions you can take immediately to tackle the climate emergency and reduce your environmental impact. Read the other posts in the series: