I know that generations before me are going to despise what I’m about to say, but being a millennial is hard. Aside from the fact that we can’t afford anything, and no not because we enjoy brunch, but because of the overwhelming increase in the cost of living; we are guilt-ridden with trying to make life decisions that will better the planet.
One of the biggest factors that contribute to climate change and greenhouse gases is farming, specifically farming for the production of meat. Sixty-three percent of arable land in the EU is used to produce animal feed instead of food for human consumption. As well as this, there is methane that cows emit, and the transportation that goes into farming animals. Then, once they have been killed, you need large factories for meat production and the van, boats, and even cargo planes that are then used to distribute the products. I’m really not trying to make you feel bad, I myself eat meat. But, you have to admit that the overproduction of meat really is a contributing factor to our world falling apart every second.
So, what do we do about it?
Because I’ll be honest, I really don’t want to give up chicken, or the occasional roast ham on a Sunday. I’m very aware that it’s not the best for the environment, but I’m also human and a little bit selfish, and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there like me. You want to help, but you also want a juicy piece of meat sometimes. I hear you.
The truth is unless you grow, pick and eat all of your own food then your diet is always going to affect the environment. Unfortunately, for most of us, this is impossible. So don’t get too hung up on it, you’ve probably got other more important issues to deal with. But, if you want to take a few steps to reduce you meat intake and do a lil’ bit for the environment, here are some easy steps to take:
Make vegetables the star of the show
For a lot of people (well at least in England), we tend to make meat the star of the dish and build everything else around it. They don’t call English food meat and two veg for nothing. But what about if we stop giving meat all of the attention and place a bit more emphasis on vegetables? There are literally thousands out there, so you can get creative with your cooking.
Building a meal out of vegetables will take a bit more thought, but it’s worth it. Using herbs, spices and seasoning to flavour your veggies and take advantage of what mother nature grows. The internet is filled with vegetarian-centred dishes, spend some time taste testing and start making your favourite dishes out of veg.
Get your meat as locally as possible
In a cost of living crisis, this isn’t possible for everyone, especially as farm and butcher’s meat often comes at a higher price than the supermarket alternatives. But would it be possible to reduce the amount of meat you buy? And get the best quality possible?
If you can get to farm shops, great. If not, local meat delivery services are also an option. But, if all else fails, read the packaging on the meat in the supermarket and try to opt for meats and cuts that come from the country you live in. These will come with reduced transportation and have less of an impact on the environment.
Meat free days
If you’re like me and you don’t want to get rid of meat entirely, why not just try scrapping it a couple of days a week? You’ll have to be prepared, making sure you plan your meals in advance, but there are plenty of alternatives such as meat-substitute foods, beans and pulses and the humble vegetable.
Sometimes it is not about all or nothing, it’s those small changes on a regular basis that count. But most importantly, don’t feel guilty, you’ve probably got enough going on. If you want a burger, eat it.