In the back of mind I’ve always been conscious about the environmental impact of eating red meat. If you haven’t had look at emissions of various produce types - it’s really worth a look. By choosing different produce you make an impact on your CO2e footprint. You don’t even have to cut out meat entirely to do this.

Food greenhouse gas emissions across supply chain

Previously I had done things like:

Some small changes here can have some large environmental footprint and health benefits. I really recommend giving a reduced meat diet a go.

More recently though I’ve decided to do a bit more. I think this is what some would even call vegetarian. My goal here is to reduce my meat consumption to 0. I’m not entirely sure what kicked it off, I think I just happened to have a few days of eating entirely vegetarian meals by chance and decided to just keep running with it. For over the last two weeks I’ve actively tried to eat no meat.

I’m not some angel though. There’s some beef stock in our cupboard that might have animal contents, parmesan cheese with animal rennet was accidentally used one night, and an ordering mistake a cafe resulted in a chilli scramble with bacon rather than the vegetarian option. Wasting the food doesn’t align with the goals of reducing emissions and environmental impact. I however wouldn’t be surprised if the taste of meat becomes repulsive to me.

I haven’t really missed meat at all. In most cases I feel like it never really added anything to meal. Most meat when cooked is seasoned or mixed with other tasty ingredients. A typical sandwich for example might have several vegetables on it and one meat - remove the meat and it’s still tasty sandwich. I’ve mostly been avoiding meat substitutes as well. They are okay but personally I prefer something designed without them.

Turkish roll, with falafel balls, tomato, cucumber, pickles, vegan cheese, sriracha mayo sauce, tomato chutney, spinach, red onion and parsley

Meals I’ve been enjoying

I feel like it might be remiss of me not to mention some of the meals I’ve been enjoying since making this change.

Bolognese without meat works remarkably well - add a bunch of carrot and garlic and you are good to go. (side note here: if your Italian, can you please let me know what vegetarian pasta sauce is actually called, because I don’t think it’s bolognese?). Like wise pasta bakes can be a pretty easy meal that doesn’t require meat.

Nacho’s with lime, guac and sour cream

Taco’s, burritos, nachos - these can all be done without meat - and I actually prefer it a lot this way. I’ve been getting a lot better at making vegetarian chilli mixes - and there are a lot of different ingredients and flavours to play with.

I’ve been able to work out a veg options for my bánh mì, so lunches are sorted.

I’ve also been exploring some new foods and flavours. There’s been a bunch of things like tofu, rice, brussels sprouts that I previously had discounted because my first experiences of them were bad - but I’ve actually found that I either like or don’t mind these things when cooked and prepared correctly. I’m looking forward to exploring (cautiously) more.

My vegan cheese problem

I’m not vegan (yet - this is something I want to explore later). I am however lactose intolerant - which means I try to reduce my milk/cheese consumption. Coffees are usually soy or oat, and I’ve recently been trying some of the vegan cheeses available. I could use the lactose free cheeses, however I feel like it’s a good opportunity to switch to vegan alternatives if viable.

So what’s the problem? Well apart from stock availability, it’s where the cheese is made. For Bio Cheese it’s made in Greece, for Cheer it’s Scotland. There’s really nothing wrong with these countries, it’s just the frustration that it’s being shipped all the way from those locations to Australia. Apparently transport makes up very little in the CO2e, but I wonder how bad it is for such long distances. It’s not going to stop me purchasing vegan cheese but I wish there was a more local option.

The future

At least in the short term I’m going to continue avoiding meat. I’m sure I’ll slip up from time to time. Eventually I’d like to switch to vegan, or at the very least remove eggs from my diet - but for now vegetarianism is where I’ll be.