Browse Month by January 2020

Making a conscious decision to eat less red meat

New data shows that one in four of us Brits (24%) plan on reducing the amount of red meat we consume as we strive to get healthier and help the environment.

Reduced meat consumption - A Free From Life

Is this you?

Apparently, according to YouGov, just 1% of the nation are Vegan, but 14% of us are, what has been termed as, Flexitarian—someone who has a mainly plant-based diet, but who consumes meat occasionally. Don’t you just love it when the media makes up these new terms with which to label people?!

Women are more likely than men to have made the conscious decision to eat less meat.

A quarter (27%) of women intend to cut back, versus 20% of men and the reasons for this change? For most, this is a health-related change, for others, it comes down to economics. Then, of course, there are environmental concerns.

A widely circulated study released last year in the Science Journal looked at the environmental impact of 40,000 farms in 119 countries which produce 90% of all food consumed in the world. It posited that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Past YouGov data shows the proportion of Britons who believe we should eat less meat to help the environment is increasing, from 28% in 2015, to 34% in 2018. Among 18 to 24-year-olds, the so-called Gen Z’s, it now rises to 50%.

While sales of meat are falling, meat free food consumption is up.

This is good news for Vegans, with more choice than ever. It also allows for those who want to have a ‘flexitarian’ lifestyle, without making that full leap into a plant-based only diet.

Where do you fit in on all this?

Interestingly, the teenagers of our house have definitely voiced their concerns about our meat consumption. They are particularly focused on beef and the impact of cows on the environment (we’re talking waste gases here). From a health point of view, we don’t eat meat every day anyway and we make a conscious effort to have meat-free Monday, as part of our weekly meal plans.

With three out of the five of us being dairy free, we’re thriving on the Vegan choices that you can now buy when out and about.

For me, that’s likely to be my choice when I eat at a restaurant, but not so much for my eleven-year-old boy. As he’s been dairy free for as long as he can remember, the choices for him, when we’ve eaten out at a restaurant, often amounted to something grilled, usually meat, with potatoes (this kind of became the default choice). As a result, he is an out and out carnivore, who will eat a steak running blood (not for me, personally). I think, also, that he has given up enough in his life already, having been both dairy and gluten free up until recently. For him, swapping steak for lentils would be a step too far!

For now, we are sticking to this flexitarian lifestyle. I would say that it is both an environmental AND health choice for us, that for a family of five, works well.

I’m making sure I buy what little meat we do consume from the local butchers, so that at least we know it’s not mass produced and is reared both locally and ethically. I would like to see the Government take steps to tackle this industry of cheap, mass-produced everything that comes in plastic packaging and does nothing to encourage reduced consumption. As I’ve said before, there is only so much we can do on our own that will make an impact.


Living a life that is free from plastic – is it possible?

To be completely plastic free seems virtually impossible, but we have to try, right?

Is it possible to go completely plastic free - A Free From Life

I blame the supermarkets. So much of the produce they sell comes in plastic packaging and unless they start making changes, I can’t honestly see how we can affect a change on a large scale.

As a family, we have taken steps to reduce our plastice waste. Having young people and teens in the house, who care about their future and are who are genuinely concerned about the poor state the world is in, really helps.

Here are some of the things we’ve been able to do:

1. Buying fresh produce from Riverford, an organic box-delivery company that has, for me, all the right attitudes and beliefs behind it – Most, if not all, of the produce comes in paper bags, but anything that isn’t, you can give back to Riverford for re-use or recycling. With Riverford, I’m buying from local producers and seasonally. It’s changed the way I cook and buy, but without a negative impact, more of a conscious one.

2. Dried fruit and nuts from Real Plastic Free, as it promises their produce is packaged in compostable packaging – I buy a lot of these products for snacks and also to make breakfasts that keep us all going throughout our busy mornings. I make a larger version of my Birsher Muesli using cooked apple and pear and topped with walnuts or flaked almonds. I also add prunes to mine.

3. Home composting – We have two large compost bins in our garden, which we’ve had for over ten years. Most of our food waste goes in here and I’ve recently discovered home-compostable coffee pods that I’ve switched to in order to reduce the waste caused by using the Nespresso machine. Up to now, I’d been taking them to my local Costa, as they offer a recycling scheme.

4. Meat from the local butcher – This is one thing that really gets my goat. You can’t buy meat in plactic free packaging from the supermarket, even if you go to the butcher section. My local butcher, on the other hand, has switched to a bees wax-lined paper that can be recycled along with other paper products. I’m now buying locally produced meat too and supporting a local business, which is all to the good.

5. Conscious toilet paper – Okay, so now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty, I had heard so much talk of this, I had to give it a go – Who Gives a Crap. Heard of it? The name itself is one you’re not likely to forget, but if you want recycled, tree-conscious loo roll, these are your people. I ordered a box to see what it’s like. We now have enough toilet roll to keep us going for the foreseeable future!

Right, so can you see how many different places I went to in order to get my weekly shopping? I’m talking virtually, by the way, so it wasn’t as though I had to trail around, collecting all these different things and polluting the environment with fuel (all except the butcher, but they do offer a delivery service). No, I did all this from the comfort of my own home, as I tend to do with food shopping.

The difference is, I would normally do the whole lot in one go from a well-known supermarket chain. That’s the convenience isn’t it? That is the whole reason why the large supermarkets have done so well and killed off our high streets and small businesses.

The trouble is, apart from buying loose vegetables and offering cleaning and washing products that are environmentally friendly and come in recycled plastic bottles, I can’t see much else that the supermarkets are doing to help people consume less plastic. Everything, from meat, to bread, to cheese, to crisps and snacks. EVERYTHING comes in some form of plastic packaging.

We can recycle some things now, such as yoghurt pots, milk and juice cartons. Not all councils offer this service though. It’s dependent on where you live. But realistically, that’s not the point is it? We need to use less, not just rely on recycling because personally, I believe the recycling industry is under tremendous pressure and is unable to fulfil its duty.

There are a lot of people like me, who are shopping around to find alternatives to their usuals. You can’t beat the convenience of a supermarket though, can you?

I was telling my kids the other day that supermarkets only started to become ‘a thing’ when I was a young girl. Back then, the supermarket was the size of what are now known as the ‘Express’ or ‘Metro’ versions. We thought they were huge at the time, but at least they were situated in the towns.

Moving supermarkets out of towns, making them superstores, not only killed off small businesses and even high streets, it allowed the supermarket chains to have the monopoly on food and farming as a whole. We now live on mass-produced foods that are cheap and convenient.

This is great for the consumer, in theory, but what about the environment? It comes at the expense of everything else and I don’t think that people really appreciated this up until recently. We’re most of us fully on-board with the idea of using less plastics, so supermarkets – HELP US. DO YOUR BIT TOO.

It really shouldn’t be too much to ask, should it?