In the last six months or so I’ve been considering the idea of cutting meat and dairy products from my diet. I’m expecting that it has a lot to do with my facebook timeline being full of posts showing battery chickens in cages, graphics showing the impact of dairy farming on the environment or plant-based recipes and foods which look 100% edible. In fact, last year I had a plant-based pie business sell at my market and OMG the pies were delicious, and weirdly – I wouldn’t have known that they weren’t meat if no-one had told me. (Check them out www.pyrony.co.nz) It’s made me do some thinking and forced me to open my mind a little. All meat lovers love pies… Pyrony is plant-based… so no animals or environment are harmed in the process.
There’s this joke. “How do you know someone’s a vegan?” “Because they tell you”. And it’s true. Many are very “in your face”, choosing to use confronting and kind of judgemental ways of pushing their rightness at you. But, at the end of the day… they are right. Consumption of meat and dairy products – animal welfare aside, is the single biggest thing that will destroy our planet and mankind. I know this sounds rather conspiratorial and slightly dramatic … but it’s true. It’s factual, and those facts are stacking up and becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. We are single handedly eating our planet to death by allowing the levels of gas emissions to exceed safe levels for our climate. We are allocating a disproportionate amount of our resources, namely clean water to sustain our dairy industry. Not to mention pollution of our clean waterways by farmers (admittedly they’re not the only ones doing this but I don’t have time to cover that as well).
I could reference a heap of statistics to back up what I’m saying, but I’m not here to sell veganism to you or tell you that I’m right. I’m merely here to suggest to you that there will be a point in the near or not too distance future where you will need to look at our meat and three vege diet and adjust it if we want our planet to survive. Animal agriculture is depleting our resources, putting a strain on our environment and we need to act. We need to act by changing our eating habits. This will happen… one person at a time… and it will ALL help.
While some of you are semi-interested, some of you dismissal and getting ready to pen arguments (fyi… you are wasting your time), there are others that will have already clicked away from the post. Do you know why? Most of us enjoy a slab of steak with creamy potatoes, served with ice-cream and chocolate pudding on the side. But guess what? You can actually replace many of these … gradually, without missing them and learn some new culinary skills at the same time. Changing our ingrained ways of living, our lifestyle and how we think the world to be will un-doubedtly create an in-balance in beliefs which always causes discomfort.
As mentioned earlier… I’m a fence sitter. I totally 100% believe that a meat and dairy free diet is where we are headed. I’m just with many others who aren’t quite sure how to start, and how to do it – without exploding my food budget, and needing to learn to increase my cooking repertoire (I’m no foodie). As it is, I drink soy milk instead of dairy because my allergies clear up, I don’t necessarily need meat at dinnertime (I usually only have it a few times a week because it feels healthier – plus actual meat (sausages and mince aside) is expensive but saying “I’m a vegan” takes it to a more committed step. I was told, and I believe this, that you don’t have to “go cold turkey”. I get that. A decrease in consumption is better than nothing. Swapping to soy, meatless days, choosing free range over the “cheap eggs” and even being open to the idea are better than ignorance. That’s where I’m at… somewhere in the middle.
Environment aside – cows are actually really lovely animals. I had no concerns about snuggling up to this big guy (we called him Donald) – this is me introducing my daughter to him.
I don’t think the dialogue on our choices, and of course what that change in diet will mean for our dairy farmers is even here yet… but it’s bubbling under the surface. Let’s face it, the ramifications for the dairy industry and New Zealand’s economy are huge, but the money end of things isn’t enough of a reason not to act. Change won’t happen overnight but it is one that will be addressed at some point in the future. Sooner rather than later hopefully. In the meantime – consider the concept, consider dropping meat a night or two a week, consider swapping to soy – it tastes yuk but every single change in habit that you, and I do will help us to progress to a cleaner, more sustainable environment. I’ll certainly keep trying… (I fall off the wagon sometimes) but I am committed to getting there.