Health

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.

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