Many of us are aware of the detrimental effects the meat industry has on our planet and as much as we'd like to cut down eating meat or cut it out completely, sometimes it's just not possible to do this.
Because I work for 1 Million Women many people assume I'm either vegan or vegetarian, except I'm not. This is because I live with a health condition that limits my diet so much that I'd waste away if I went vegan or vegetarian. This upset me for a while because cutting out meat products felt like such a big part of my climate journey and part of me felt like a fraud calling myself an environmentalist while still eating meat. But to mimic almost every single person on Instagram in 2020, self-care comes first!
My dietary restrictions are fairly intense, meaning I can't always find vegetarian and vegan foods I can eat. I also have to avoid so many other foods that if I cut out all meat I'd be close to eating nothing but plain rice and veggies forever. So, if you're anything like me then don't feel bad about not being able to become vegan and vegetarian completely, just do what you can. It's not about doing everything, it's about doing everything you can control within your life.
Here are my main tips for people who can't go vegan or vegetarian for health reasons (or any reasons)!
1. Pick and choose what you CAN do
For example, I've cut out red meat completely which works for me. However, I still eat seafood and chicken quite often. Dairy doesn't work for me anyway, but I do eat eggs. And I try to eat as plant-based as possible.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You are allowed to pick and choose how much you ascribe to a certain label. You don't have to call yourself "vegetarian" but you also don't have to be a "meat-eater", just find the middle ground that works for you.
2. Focus on other things you can do for the planet
For example, I eat meat but I try to cut back more on how much plastic or clothing I buy. This is how you can channel the efforts that would go into being a vegetarian or vegan into something else and still do something to help the planet!
3. Cut back, don't cut out
If you can't cut out meat completely, just cut back. Talk to your doctors or nutritionists or whoever you seek your medical advice from and see how much meat you can realistically eat and remain healthy.
4. When you do buy meat, try sourcing from farms doing the right thing!
If you are in a position to do so, buying meat from sustainable, local and regenerative farms is preferable.
2040 Documentary describes regenerative agriculture as "techniques include: using cover crops and perennials to protect the soil, no tilling, no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers, multiple crop rotations and bringing grazing animals back on the land in ways that mimic natural cattle migration." By making sure we understand regenerative farming we can be sure to ask the right questions when shopping for meat. According to the Sustainable Table, if you're at a butcher or a farmers market these are the following questions to ask -
- Is the meat free range or organic?
- If yes, what farm did it come from? Remember, bred free range is not the same as free range.
- Is it grass or grain fed? Grass fed is preferable
- If you're at a farmers market, ask how far they had to travel to get there.
5. Don't feel guilty!
It's okay to be an environmentalist or care for the planet AND still eat meat if you have to. Just follow steps 1 through to 4 above!
If you suffer from a medical condition or chronic illness that has stopped you from going vegan or vegetarian, or if there is any other reason you can't cut out meat completely, comment below and let us know your story and how you deal with this!
NOTE: Content in this blog should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. We are not doctors or nutritionists, so please talk to your medical practitioner before altering your diet.