Why I’m a weekly vegetarian
Going vegetarian doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach.
For meat-is-murder vegetarians there’s little point in just reducing meat. A little murder is still murder. But omnivores who believe it is fine to eat meat can also eat in moderation.
When we moved into our new home Simon and I decided to become weekly vegetarians. ie. We would only eat meat at the weekends (Friday night is a weekend too!!)
We love meat far too much to cut it out all together!
There are 3 main reasons why we eat vegetarian during the week.
Our first home came with our first brand spanking new mortgage! The amount of debt we suddenly find ourselves in is rather daunting and our mortgage repayments are more than our previous rent payments. So sacrifices had to be made and meat is one of them.
A typical dinner in our home costs about £3 for the both of us. A standard portion of organic/ free range/ good quality meat is substantially more. Yes, when we buy meat we do make sure it is the ‘happy’ kind.
Some yummy less-than-£3 dinners we have had recently:
– Pasta, pesto and broad beans
– Homemade pizzas
– Goats cheese and spinach tartlets
– Houmous and crudites
– Vegetable and chickpea curry
I calculated that most of our meat meals cost about £6 at least. So over a year of dinners (1 dinner a day, weekdays only), we are saving £780 on average.
2) The environment
Eating meat doesn’t only affect the animals that are eaten, it also affects the land they live on and the land that grain to feed them is cultivated.
Here are some meaty environmental facts:
– Cows are a major producer of methane, which contributes to global warming
– Land used to feed 1 meat eater can feed 15-20 vegetarians
– Because of the shortage of grazing land, we are destroying natural habitats such as the rainforest
– It takes much more water to produce meat than wheat.
– Don’t just take my word for it. Read thisGuardian news article which has a lot more information.
On a typical shopping day we will just go to the supermarket and just buy whatever is cheapest. This has resulted in the unplanned benefit of generally buying produce that is in season and locally produced, thereby reducing the carbon emissions it took for our veg to get to us.
3) Our health
There have been plenty of studies showing that a diet which contains too much meat is just not good for you. We have both always been healthy eaters, but cutting meat out of our diet has certainly helped us to stay a healthy weight.
Studies show that:
– Eating red meat increases your chance of getting bowel cancer and problems with high blood cholestrol (NHS article)
– Eating vegetables makes you feel more full for longer
Personally I have found myself to have more energy and not to feel as ‘weighed down’ or tired as I used to feel. The reduction of meat eating just makes me feel lighter during the day, even though my portions are probably bigger!
My body just feels ‘happier’ overall.
At first we really struggled to come up with exciting, appetising meals. We generally had cheese and coleslaw salad wraps or pasta with a variety of sauces. It was boring and really not enough to tempt us away from the meaty alternatives. During the year with the help of the internet, cookbooks and just pure experimentation, we have acquired a very wide repertoire of vegetarian delights. These are meals that we would possibly never have discovered or bothered trying previously.
Some of our favourites are asparagus and white wine risotto or sweet potato, pine nuts and goat’s cheese pasta. Mmmmm!! Yum!! We have also learnt new ways to cook and use less usual vegetables such as curly kale and turnips. It’s amazing how much quicker it is to cook vegetarian meals than meat meals, and there’s no worry of eating raw meat either.
Our vegetarian friends also benefit, as we are far more able to cater for vegetarians at dinner parties. We have found that when we do have meat it is to flavour the meal, rather than as the main component.
There are also lots of other benefits to taking a break from meat eating, and I suggest you read this article as an intresting start to the topic.
We do have some exceptions to our rule. For example if someone has cooked a meal for us, or if it is a special occasion then we will eat meat.
We have also had the experience of having a friend round to dinner who doesn’t eat anything but meat! Seriously, he doesn’t touch salad or vegetables at all! It’s a wonder he’s still alive. So we did cook meat for him!
Giving up meat during the week was tricky at first, but exercising your self control is always a good thing, and vegetarian eating has now just become part of our everyday life. I really recommend it for anyone, and everyone, who wants to do something for their wallets, the environment and their health.
If everyone in the UK gave up meat just 1 day a week it would save more CO2 than taking 5 million cars off the road!
And then, when we do have meat at weekends, it tastes sooo much better!!