Words by Sarah Nunn
Ten years ago, Paul McCartney and his family launched a concept aimed to raise awareness of the detrimental impact animal agriculture was having on the environment – meat-free Mondays. Since then, the rise of the vegan and vegetarian movement has exploded, and it’s easy to see why.
There’s no denying that the meat and fishing industries are huge contributors to climate change. In fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists lists eating meat as the second-biggest environmental hazard facing the Earth, just behind fossil-fuelled vehicles.
A deadly combination of aggressive deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions as a result of intensive livestock farming are sending us dangerously over the threshold of environmental safety. A Japanese study recently found that producing just 1kg of beef had the equivalent environmental impact of driving a car for a whopping 250km (that’s like driving all the way around the Isle of Wight – twice!).
While researchers from the University of Oxford discovered eating less meat and dairy products could be the single biggest way for us to reduce our impact on the environment – it’s no wonder that more people are adopting a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. With so many delicious alternatives on the market now, from Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls to Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice-cream, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to our favourite comfort foods. As well as these tasty treats, a meat-free diet encourages us to incorporate more vegetables and grains into our diet too. It’s no secret that replacing processed meats with vibrant wholefoods can aid our health and help to prevent nasty diseases.
Meat-free Mondays are pretty self-explanatory, but the concept is designed to encourage people who normally eat a meat-heavy diet to incorporate one day of plant-based meals into their lifestyle. It’s a small step that, when done on a large scale, can have a big impact on slowing climate change and conserving our precious natural resources.
In Southsea, we’re lucky to have a wide selection of shops and restaurants offering incredible vegan and vegetarian options for us. I’ve listed some of my personal favourites below, which all feature tasty meals that help make those meat-free days so much easier.
Having only first adopted a vegetarian diet myself just over a year ago, and gradually incorporating more and more vegan choices into my own meals, I’m by no means an expert. One thing I have learned is that cutting out meat and cutting back dairy from my diet has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. I feel healthier and more energised on a daily basis, and it’s a good feeling to know I’m doing my bit for the environment.
If you’re conscious about protecting our planet and are looking for ways to reduce your impact as an individual, consider incorporating a meat-free day (or two!) into your weekly food shop.
With endless inspiration online, as well as meat-substitutes becoming widely available, you can still enjoy all your favourite meals without the meat – and if cooking isn’t your thing, head to one of the below and let someone else do the work for you!