Why I still eat meat (and why I’m trying to eat less of it).

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You don’t have to look very far to find horrifying statistic after horrifying statistic about mass meat production. The multiple campaigns done by celebrities, the environmental devastation increasingly talked about (which has been around for some time), the animal welfare concerns, the additives to meat which just sound terrifying..

But… it tastes so good!

In all seriousness, I am trying. I’m trying to cut down my meat consumption to twice a week. To predominantly go for white meat or fish, and only eat red meat once every 2 months (if that). I only buy organic and free range, and I try to buy ‘local’ to me in Bristol, which is actually not that difficult to do in the west country.

But am I doing enough?

I have had a complicated relationship with vegetarianism in the past. There have been random stints, lasting 6 months to a year, where I’ve predominantly eaten a diet of pasta and pesto (yes, I know, probably not 100% vegetarian parmesan there in hindsight, whoops), with the odd chickpea, and LOTS of cheese. At one point I was doing a lot of dance classes in my 20s, sometimes 4-5 evenings a week, on top of a full time 9-5 job, and I watched as my evening meal pasta dishes increased in size, and my energy levels continued to deplete, rapidly.

Time to add a vegetable, you may suggest!

Yes, vegetables! Great idea! So I tried spinach, the food of popeye and people that like to eat their greens without even realising. Then I tried broccoli, a vegetable time immemorial. Both of them perfectly nice, but none of them really cut the mustard, energy wise, and after a pretty bad dance injury, I was looking for protein, and fast, to heal a broken bone and ligaments in my ankle.

So there I was, back on the steak wagon. Not that I had ever been on such wagon really, but my body was in desperate need of nutrients to heal quickly and meat was the only thing that seemed to do the trick (for a short time, anyway). It wasn’t long till my stomach was over the whole red meat thing, and really it was only white meat and fish that was hitting the spot, occasionally. I’d again fallen into the ‘recreational vegetarian’ which I’d initially tried to avoid.

I’m now taking vitamin supplements every day (predominantly vegan ones) which I will post more about in another blog, and since buying mostly organic fruit and veg, with more grains and less bread, where possible, my energy levels certainly have come back, in abundance. Maybe one day I will be able to call myself a proper vegetarian, but I think a culture change is slow, and it hasn’t always been easy to find the time, the money and the space (shared flat culture) to fill my life with more ingredients I’m not used to using, buying or storing. I take my hats off to vegetarians and vegans, I am very aware that even some farmers are saying… meat consumption needs to change, and so do we.

I do always think animals need to be treated with respect, and I think any trauma that an animal has experienced in intensive farming or otherwise, will always effect the quality of the meat and the frequency of the energy you put into your body.

Even in restaurants, without knowing the providence of the meat they use, I find myself ordering the vegetarian option on purpose, to avoid being fed intensively farmed meat which may not be what my body (or my morals) really need, and I’m increasingly feeling a resistance to buying food from restaurants that don’t use organic produce, for related environmental and health reasons.

As more good reasons come to the surface to think twice about eating meat (and at the very least, think ethically, if you do), I’m hoping for a culture change, both in the production of meat in general (I think the effects of intensive farming effects all of us, whether we buy in to it intentionally or not), and also a culture change in how frequently we buy meat. I think it’s easy to become numb to the amount of information telling us to ‘avoid this, it’s bad for you’ or ‘avoid that, it’s bad for the planet’ but at the end of the day, on a practical day-to-day level, I think its just about making small decisions, that could ultimately lead us as a collective to become less reliant on a food industry that grows for a long as there’s a market for it.

For now, I guess I’m just trying my best, and when I do eat organic, free range meat from local farms, I’m grateful for not only the resources to buy it, but also the concern that some farmers clearly have towards the welfare of their livestock. I think we’ve become so disconnected from our food supply in some ways, we’ve forgotten what a miracle ‘good’ food really is, and what it means to take care of ourselves with the things we consume.    

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