If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that cutting down on how much meat we eat is a win for our health, our planet and the animals that live on it.
There are countless studies and articles that prove this to be true.
But when you are brought up on, and surrounded by, meat products, how hard is it to cut down on meat consumption?
Meet Daisy, our Junior Campaigner and Sophie, our Press and Marketing Officer. Both have made a conscious effort to change their eating habits and both have had very different experiences. I sat down with them to find out more…
When did you decide to reduce your meat intake and why did you make that decision?
Daisy: I went vegetarian 16 years ago at 11 years old. I had always loved animals since early childhood and slowly started seeing more and more online content on the hidden cruelty of farmed animals. The final straw was seeing secret CCTV footage of a slaughterhouse filmed by an animal welfare charity NGOs. Witnessing innocent animals in extreme states of fear, pain and suffering - and knowing that I was adding to it by eating meat – finally made me go vegetarian.
Sophie: I’ve been veggie off and on for around 10 years. Off and on being an unofficial term for when we hit the bumps that come with the trials and tribulations so many of us face when trying to cut down our meat intake! It was a decision initially based on cost, believe it or not, and spurred on by the difference I wanted to make to the millions of animals that suffer at the hands of intensive farming.
How do you find it?
Daisy: I’ve found it fairly easy. Nowadays, there’s a large and diverse range of veggie and vegan food in supermarkets which makes it much easier than it used to be. The only difficulty I find is that depending on where you’re based in the country, sometimes there can be minimal vegetarian options when eating out at restaurants if you’re not in an area where vegetarianism is popular!
Sophie: I find it more difficult than Daisy it seems! Particularly growing up in a family where a ‘proper meal’ was meat and two veg, I found it hard to exert my dietary requirements around certain social settings, but with so many veggie and vegan options accessible now when eating out in particular, I find it increasingly easy to make suitable choices and inevitably engage in conversation about meat reduction with new people when I do.
What is your favourite thing to cook/eat?
Daisy: I love making pasta dishes – they're so diverse! I make a lovely flexitarian carbonara which has vegan crème fraiche, vegan bacon, free range eggs and pecorino cheese. It’s delicious!
Sophie: I really enjoy Thai food, but I’m dreadful at cooking it! The fragrant flavours are so fresh that I feel a great Thai dish could turn even the most ardent meat eater on to a veggie packed meal instead.
Why is it important to you to reduce your meat intake?
Daisy: For me, now that I know the truth of what happens to farmed animals during the slaughter process (and during their lifetime on farms where they aren’t well cared for) I can’t eat meat without feeling a lot of guilt. Farming animals has become more and more intensive with vast amounts of suffering going on behind the scenes, and I don't want to be a part of that.
Sophie: I think it's important for everyone to at least try and reduce their intake. I am so aware that for many like me, it’ll be tricky, a learning curve and a real ‘take every day as it comes’ sort of journey. The worst thing we can think is ‘what difference can I as one person make?’ Because the answer is a big one! I can’t stand the horrific suffering of the vast and vulgar number of animals wasted in intensive farming and completely believe the vast majority of people feel the same too, so it’s important to take that personal action, not expect pure perfection and shop mindfully, responsibly and at least give it a try.
When it comes to cutting down on how much meat we eat, everyone’s circumstances are different. Some may find it incredibly easy, while some may find it difficult committing to a long-term habit change. Whichever camp you fall in, just remember, every week, every day, even every meal counts.
Will you give it a try?