Hello lovely people!
Something I’ve talked about here and there over on my Instagram, but not as often on my blog, is that over the last 6 months or so I’ve been transitioning to vegetarianism. I’m now proud to say that since the 25th of July this year I haven’t eaten meat, and I don’t really intend to do so ever again. It’s something that I think is really important when it comes to climate change and animal rights, so I thought I’d outline some of my reasons for becoming a vegetarian and how I did it, in the hopes that someone will be inspired to limit their meat consumption.
1. It’s just cheaper.
This is the main reason why I reduced my meat consumption during my first year of university, and whilst it seems a bit selfish I think it’s a really important point to be made for students especially. Meat is expensive. I can buy a bag of meat free mince for about £1.50, whereas the animal-based alternative can be up to £5, which is a huge saving. I’ve also found that most of my diet is made up of either beans or vegetables now, which when shopping at somewhere like Aldi are absolutely dirt cheap. When you’ve got a limited student budget picking plant-based alternatives is just a no brainer.
2. It’s better for the environment.
A 2011 study done by the Environmental Working Group found that beef produces 13 times more emissions than vegetable protein (source). 13 times! Similar statistics are shown in the documentary Cowspiracy (check it out on Netflix), and more recent studies have argued that in western countries beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by 5x more beans and pulses in order to avoid dangerous levels of climate change (source). When you consider that a recent UN study found that unless we make dramatic changes our planet will be warming up by a further 1.5 degrees before 2040, resulting in major risks to human life (source), this advice to follow a vegetarian diet becomes all the more important. For me it’s the least I can do to ensure that us humans don’t literally cause our own self-destruction,
3. Animals are cute, maybe let’s not let them suffer?
This one is a little more abstract and up for debate than the environmental impact of meat production. Personally I think that the abuse of animals through factory farming purely for the sake of production, efficiency and ultimately profit is morally wrong. Perhaps if there were more farms where animals were treated humanely throughout their lives I would have a slightly different perspective on this one, but considering that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that over 95% of farm animals in the US are raised on factory farms, this doesn’t seem likely anytime soon (source). For me, just because I happen to be a human and a rabbit happens to be a rabbit, it doesn’t mean that I have more of a right to life. It’s that simple.
I actually found the transition to a vegetarian diet very simple, as I had essentially been a flexitarian for about a year beforehand. I rarely ate meat when I was at university, and when I went on holiday with two of my vegetarian friends we made an effort to scope out all of the cool vegan/veggie cafes we could. What I’m saying is that it’s important to do this in stages. If you suddenly go from meat in all your meals to cutting it out completely your body probably isn’t going to like it very much, and it’s unlikely that you will either.
To help ease the transition it’s a good idea to start trying out meat substitutes. For example I really love this sausage casserole recipe, so I picked up a packet of Quorn sausages and tried it with them, and it was still really nice. Iceland now has a fully vegan range too, and I find that Tesco have a lot of different frozen vegetarian choices.
You also need to get excited about vegetarian food. Find new recipes and try them all out, I mostly do this by reading food blogs, BBC Good Food, and just googling “vegetarian recipes”. Instagram is also full of inspiration, VeganRicha is a favourite account of mine. Vegetarian food tends to have a base in fresh veggies, and for me nothing tastes better. If you want me to do a full post on my favourite plant-based meals, please let me know!
As with any big life change, making yourself accountable can be helpful. For example when I was first thinking about going vegetarian I told all my colleagues at work I was vegetarian, so I wouldn’t be tempted to take any meat-based leftovers whilst on shift. I can see why this would be unhelpful at the same time because you could feel pressured, but if it’s a decision you definitely want to make you will find it very useful.
At the risk of sounding too preachy, GO VEGETARIAN! Or, perhaps more importantly, cut your meat consumption. I don’t try and convert everyone I know, because we all have different ideologies and outlooks on the world. However at the same time when there is so much evidence to say that meat consumption has drastically negative effects on our environment, I find it mad that people aren’t willing to just have a veggie burger every once in a while to stop us all from LITERALLY DYING. I’ve linked to all the sources I used to write this post below, as well as some extra articles and videos that helped me when I was deciding to go vegetarian. I hope this was a useful read!
-Megan, writing on shift in my college library (I should definitely be studying instead)
‘How Meat and Dairy are Hiking Your Carbon Footprint’ – Time Magazine: Science – http://science.time.com/2011/07/26/how-meat-and-dairy-are-hiking-your-carbon-footprint/
‘Huge Reduction in Meat-Eating ‘Essential’ to Avoid Climate Breakdown’ – The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-reduction-in-meat-eating-essential-to-avoid-climate-breakdown?CMP=twt_gu
‘Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040’ – The New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html
’10 Ways Vegetarianism Can Help Save the Planet’ – The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment
‘Farm Animal Welfare’ – ASPCA – https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare
‘The Undercover Investigators Exposing Animal Abuse in Factory Farms’ – The Independent – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/animal-abuse-factory-farms-undercover-investigators-pigs-chickens-cows-turkeys-mercy-for-animals-a7501816.html
Why I Went Vegan – UnJadedJade – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRF41taqVUI
Why I Went Vegan Story Time – Holly Gabrielle – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDBNSPmbpq0
Two Years Vegan! What I’ve Learned and How I’ve Changed – tiffanyferg – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFnkCLfMSJI
A Vegan vs a Vegetarian – Elena Fender – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HI2nl3-DaY&t=265s