I love a good challenge. I’m a pretty competitive person so maybe that’s where my love of a challenge comes from. A little competition between me and myself. Whether that challenge be in the gym, at uni, in social situations, food related or beating an unhealthy habit, I think challenging yourself is so important. It enables you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone or beyond your perceived limits and achieve things that you perhaps didn’t think were possible. As a society, we seem to have got into the habit of sitting happily within our comfort zones and convincing ourselves that we’re “not able” to do something or that we “could never do that” because “that’s just not me”. We’ve failed before we’ve even started!
So here’s my challenge for March…I’m going VEGGIE! For anyone who knows me, I’m a bit of a food monster and my love of meat has rocketed in the past 6 months or so. No meal is complete without a meat source or 3. So for me, this really IS a challenge.
Recently my boyfriend and I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy. According to the reviews, I’d be “veggie by the next day” and I’d “never want to eat meat again”. Naaahhh I thought. YEAH RIGHT! Carnivore Laura will never give up meat. This documentary really made me think. It covers animal agriculture and the meat industry’s responsibility and contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water consumption, land usage, ocean pollution, depopulation of oceans…the list goes on. Some of the statistics given were shocking and pretty worrying if I’m completely honest. Finding out how unsustainable the industry is, combined with our growing population and the many negative affects we as humans are placing upon the environment scared me a bit. I don’t want to be living in a world that is so damaged by the year 2050 that it could seriously impact our lives and the lives of the next generation. I mean, personally, if I have a child, I’d quite like it to know what a whale or a dolphin is before they are all unnecessarily caught as a by-product of our careless fishing techniques just so us humans can eat some fancy fish. Here are a few shocking statistics:
Animal agriculture is responsible for a higher percentage of greenhouse gas emissions than all emissions from transportation exhaust combined
Methane (waste from animals) is up to 100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide
The amount of water needed to produce one pound of beef is 2500 gallons
animals are responsible for the consumption of 80-90% of water in america
1-2 acres of rainforest is destroyed every second for agriculture and live stock farming. Destruction of rainforests leading to the extinction of some species
Livestock uses 45% of the Earth’s land
We’re currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people, yet there are still people starving in the world. Most of this food is fed to animals!
Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of water in the US
We’re heading towards fish-less oceans – when fishing, unwanted sea life (such as dolphins, whales etc) is also caught unnecessarily and therefore killed as they are not released back into the ocean
The problem is only going to get worse due to our rapid population growth and therefore our higher demands for meat and animal related products.
Of course, in writing out all of those statistics I am in no way trying to make anyone feel guilty for eating meat, nor am I saying it’s wrong thing to do so. I still love meat! However, watching this documentary, to be honest, made me a bit worried for the future of our planet so maybe if I can do one more thing to help (I already walk everywhere, turn all my lights off and rarely put my heating on cos I’m a poor student and can’t afford to do so) this could be my way to contribute. Another reason to do this, as mentioned before, is just to see if I can actually do it. In no way am I going to turn into some crazy hippie who doesn’t wash, someone looks down on people who do eat meat or someone who only eats raw vegetables but what I am going to is make a conscious effort to change my meat eating habits.
So what do I need to consider before I cut all meat out of my life? Well, of course the main thing is PROTEIN! The majority of my 170g protein per day comes from meat so obviously i’ll need to find a replacement for that. Here’s some i’ve been thinking about:
- Quorn – I’ve tried some of their products before and some of them are fab so i’ll definitely look into incorporating them into my meals. Quorn mince to make chilli, sausages and they even do some chicken looking pieces so i’ll give them a try too.
- Other meat alternatives for veggies – these days, there’s loads of veggie products available so i’ll just go and explore the supermarkets. It’s going to be a lot of trial and error but that’s the fun of it!
- EGGS!!! – as much as i would also like to try and cut these out of my diet as there was a lot to be said about egg production in the documentary, I think attempting to cut out meat and eggs all at once might be a bit much. So for the time being, i’ll make sure to be having my morning omelette, packed full of protein.
- Beans and lentils – these are packed with natural protein (of course not as much as meat) but still they’re a great source. I’m excited to start coming up all sorts of new recipe ideas and combinations, although food prep may take a bit longer for the next few weeks!
- Protein bars – of course i don’t want to be getting all my protein from these, but as a snack, they’re fab. There’s so many varieties of bars out there these days so i’ll make sure to stock up on them.
- Protein powder – there’s so much you can do and make with all the varieties and flavours of protein out there – shakes, oats, cakes, biscuits, smoothies etc. I get all my protein powder/mug cake mixes/anything else cool from theproteinworks.com. I LOVE their variety of flavours and the fact that they’re always coming out with exciting new creations. I ordered protein truffles the other day…OMG!
I think the MAIN thing to do is make sure I’m always prepared (which I usually am to be honest. Forever pulling snacks out of my bag!) as it may not be as easy to find a protein filled/nutritionally balanced veggie meal in a supermarket meal deal! Let’s be honest, societies idea of ‘high protein’ definitely isn’t my idea of high protein! That, and lets face it, I don’t just want to eat lettuce and vegetables for a meal!
As I said before, this isn’t my way of preaching or suggesting to anyone that they should become a vegetarian. Nor is it a way of restricting my food intake. Nor am I recommending it to anyone who is recovering from anorexia, as I believe you should become comfortable with a food before cutting it out of your diet again. This is a personal choice and is not something that i’m saying is the correct thing to do. Meat has some amazing nutritional qualities and should not be cut out of anyone’s diet without careful consideration and planning.
I do hope that by the end of March I will have enjoyed being a vegetarian and that I continue my veggie-ness with the aim of one day cutting out animal produce all together. However, I want this change to be gradual, especially with my life being so hectic at the moment in final year of uni, as I definitely don’t have time to be thinking up high protein-plant based recipes. I may bloody hate it! But at least I can say I gave it a try and attempted to contribute to reducing meat consumption.
I’ll be encouraging Darren along the way and I’m hoping he’ll do the same for me! And of course my fellow MissFit Ella will be there to offer support and help me invent new veggie recipes! We’re excited to get this experiment going and i’ll make sure I check in with you guys and let you know how it’s going..the good and the bad!