Saving The Planet One Meal at a Time: Living as a Flexitarian

The obvious reason for reducing meat in our diet is the cruelty that animals endure. We can lie to ourselves and say that these days this is done as humanly as possible, but if you look at most farms the quality of life for these animals is unfortunately still at a very poor standard. To this day, animals are brutally murdered, it only takes a look at any whistle blower documentary or news article to get a better picture of what's really going on. Of course, eating meat is a personal choice and something that you have to decide for yourself, but if you do plan on giving up or even cutting back you can be safe in the knowledge that you're not putting money into a system that is undoubtedly cruel to animals. Just some food for thought, if you saw a cat or dog being 'humanely' killed to be eaten, would you still think it was wrong? Of course you would, so why is a chicken, pig or cow any different?

Meat and The Environment
The correlation between meat production and the environment is becoming more and more widely understood. Meat is obviously made up of animals, and animals leave a carbon footprint on the planet. Did you know that animals release gas into the atmosphere, and contribute to more global warming than all the cars on earth put together? The impact can also be seen on drinking water, we might live on a planet covered by water but most of this is not drinkable or cannot be made into drinkable water. When we keep animals, we have to give them a large proportion of the limited drinking water we have. Animals also take up a lot of farm land, with their faeces and urine ruining the soil, and with them being reproduced into their billions, it means that not much fertile farm land is left for other crops. The animals we breed take a lot of water, farmland and crops to eat, which really we could use directly for ourselves. The bottom line is eating meat like we do isn't sustainable. In time, the impact on land, drinking water and the environment will be devastating. 

Meat and Our Health
This can be another hard pill to swallow, as most of us have grown up during a time when we're told that eating meat is essential for good health. However, research has now shown time and time again that we can get almost every nutrient we need for our bodies without any meat or animal based products whatsoever. Studies have shown that people who eat less meat have less risk of heart attack, strokes and bad cholesterol and so providing you eat a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet you're likely to have a far healthier body. 

Finding a Compromise
Giving up meat and animal products is hard. Despite knowing about cruelty and the effects on the environment, many of us (myself included) find it hard to give up all of these things- none of us are perfect after all. One way we can get around this, and enjoy a life of balance with less guilt is to simply eat less meat and dairy. A new emerging term is a ‘flexitarian’ who is someone that eats anything, but is mindful about over consumption of meats, fish, eggs, dairy and poultry. This term may differ for each individual person. For me personally, I will eat around ninety percent vegan foods at home, but if I really fancy something specific I will allow myself to have it. If I go out to a restaurant with friends, I'll choose what I want on the menu for that meal. 

Issues with Being a Flexitarian
People tend to see eating habits in black and white. Either you're a full fledged cave person meat eater, or strict vegan. I know people who are in the middle of this can get a lot a negative comments about why they eat the way they do. When you eat meat, vegans and health buffs will remind you of the horrors of meat, when you eat vegan people are suddenly concerned about your protein intake. When you eat mainly vegan or vegetarian with some or occasional meat, people can see you as being a bit of a 'cheat', which isn't nice and something to be aware of if you choose to eat this way. The best thing to do is ignore negative comments. By eating less meat you're buying less into the meat and dairy industry, and even if you're not 'perfect' you're certainly doing you part both for the environment and your health. 

Becoming a Flexitarian
Be a role model for other to follow, and educate others without preaching. Accept that everyone has their own opinions and views, when it comes down to it you just need to do what's right for you. Whether being flexitarian is a long term plan for you or as a way to move into full vegetarian or veganism, it's only yourself that you need to be concerned with. To become a flexitarian, one way you could go about it is by aiming to reducing your meat consumption to certain days only, or a few meals per week. Increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables and generally be aware of how much meat and animal products you eat. Discover new recipes and ingredients, and meat alternatives to make things easier

Could you become a flexitarian?

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