In January, after the festive season, we are bombarded with “new year new you” ads, urging us to sign up to the gym and of course, to eat healthy food. The whole idea of eating in December and go on a diet in January is unhealthy because we should make conscientious decisions daily. This is why I thought of making this post, think about your food, in January. I picked today because today is also an anniversary for me. 12 years ago I became a vegetarian and I never looked back. Thus, today I’m going to talk about all aspects of food, not only diet or environment, but both. Because I don’t want to sound preachy about this, I will focus on me and my choices as much as possible.
It’s highly unlikely I will ever become a vegan because of my views on things like wool and honey. But, even so, most of my diet is vegan and almost dairy-free. My egg intake is much lower compared to how much I was eating a few years ago and I only buy free-range eggs.
this is a vegan steak
Think about your food – Dairy
I know the dairy industry can be cruel too and thus I avoid it as much as possible. There are situations when I’m not able to, for example I was on my way to University and the only things available at the services on the motorway were either a cheese sandwich or a cheese toastie. I obviously need food to be able to function properly and I got one of those. Now I’m planning for next time, so I don’t have to rely on what’s available. I would also pick dairy items in special situations, like something I really like the sound of in a restaurant or a slice of cake with butter frosting for my birthday, but, last year, these things happened less than a handful of times. I’m happy with my choices, knowing that almost always I pick the humane version is good enough for me.
If you are not aware of what the dairy industry is doing, search online. The situation will differ from country to country too, so make sure you are looking for the relevant information.
The main problem with switching to vegan options to avoid dairy is palm oil. Brands like Cadbury use dirty palm oil produced on fields which were deforested for this purpose. If you ask yourself, does this biscuit or bar of chocolate means so much that I don’t care if trees are burned, orangutans and wildlife are killed, so I can enjoy myself while I’m raising my insulin levels… you are most likely to come to the same views as I have. If you are buying for a child, ask yourself if is it worth it, considering the damage to the planet it causes.
I support the use of palm oil from sustainable sources, as it has such a great yield and that is important as we are already living on an overcrowded planet with limited resources.
Think about your food – Meat
I haven’t had a piece of meat in 12 years. Now I don’t even like the smell or the look of it. In the beginning I had some issues with the very realistic vegan options as… well… they seemed a bit too realistic.
Agriculture as a whole is responsible for 38% of the green gas emissions. Much of it to produce meat. About 6% of the soy produced globally is turned into human food. A staggering 75% of soy is used as an animal feed for cows and pigs. It has a high protein level and that means is great for muscle growth, and antibiotics are administrated so they don’t get sick from staying too confined. This has other implications as well, as it raises the resistance to antibiotics. This situation is very serious.
Why not bypass the cow and enjoy a soy stake like the one in the picture. It is made by Vivera, but there are many other options on the market. Other brands use other things for their fake meats. Beyond meat uses pea protein while Quorn has a fungi.
To lower our carbon footprint we don’t have to go vegan. If someone who eats meat twice a day would substitute one serving of meat with a fake meat, or, even better, with some pulses such as lentils, not only it would halve their meat intake, making it better for them and the environment. Just try some fake meats, you might be surprised how good these are. When I became vegetarian 12 years ago there were less options on the market, but now I can enjoy a lot of things I never thought I would eat again, in a veggie form, of course.
According to the Humane Slaughter Association, every year in the UK, around 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish, and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption. We are less than 67 millions and we also import meat.
Most of these animals are slaughtered before their first birthday, unless they are dairy cows, which are slaughtered at the age of 4. Natural lifespan is over 15 years for cows, 8 years for chickens, and over 10 years for pigs.
Think about your food – Does it worth it?
I talked, mainly, about the environment, but all these choices affect our health too. I asked myself many times if something worths the calories or the price. Personally, the question about the calories is the one which works best for me. Eating healthy means I learned to know myself. I know I crave something sweet because I don’t have enough energy. So I don’t buy what I’m looking at. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it doesn’t matter. If I can restrain myself from buying desserts it’s a win.
To make sure I don’t set up myself to fail, I try to eat before going to the supermarket. Or, better said, I go to the supermarket after I had a large breakfast. This way I avoid buying too much stuff. 12 years ago I didn’t consider fruits as desserts, but now I do. If you lower how much sugar you eat, in a few months, you can taste the food so much better. I didn’t think this is possible, but it is. I used to drink coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar in it, now I can’t drink a cup of coffee with half of teaspoon of sugar as it completely changes the beautiful flavour of coffee into something not worth drinking.
This is it. I hope you’ve enjoyed my very long post. Regardless if you are a meat-eater, vegetarian, or vegan, why don’t you try something new. Also, why don’t you have a look at the food chain and the impact food has on the environment. Make sure that you are happy with what you are eating.