I was walking around a farm in Birmingham during one of my dissertation breaks a few years ago, when I came across some newborn lambs. I’m a Londoner, so this isn’t a sight I am used to seeing. I am also a total animal-lover so what happened next was a bit of a shocker…
I asked the farmer what he was going to name the baby lambs (obviously I had already picked out some names that I was ready to suggest if he needed help), but he responded quickly; “Deep Freezer One and Deep Freezer Two” with a laugh and walked away.
“WHAT!? That’s so MEAN!” I thought.
And then I remembered that lamb shanks are 100% my favourite ever meal.
Have you seen that video where the butcher in a supermarket is selling ‘fresh meat’? Shoppers come to the counter to order some sausages and when he lifts a LIVE pig and puts it in a pretend grinder they are horrified, one woman even starts hitting the butcher. It’s very entertaining but even more than that it makes you realise how much of a disconnect there is between what we consume, and what we care about.
I can say I love animals and be upset with the farmer for joking about how the farm animals are food, but I’ll still eat meat. I can be outraged by people working in awful conditions and not being paid a fair wage, yet I’ll put money into the fast-fashion industry just because I want something new for the weekend.
I have never eaten lamb since that moment on the farm, and since last year I gave up all red meat when I heard that livestock has such a significant impact on our environment. It’s not always obvious, but deforestation to create more land for grazing, the huge carbon footprint of transported meat and the amount of food that’s wasted feeding livestock has a really negative impact.
In all areas of life I’m trying bit-by-bit to bring back the connection between what I say I care about and what I do. But when it comes to avoiding meat, it’s not always easy. Here are some of the pits they don’t tell you about in the vegetarian cookbooks…
- When you go to weddings and they ask you if you have any dietary requirements. You do. I forgot to let some good friends know once, and yep, you guessed it, the meal was lamb shank. The temptation of all temptations. I stayed strong but it meant all I had to eat was creamy mashed potato and a sprinkling of vegetables.
- If you have friends/loved ones who are meat-eaters, you’re going to hurt their feelings. I’m not entirely sure why people take it so personally when you say you don’t eat meat, but don’t worry, they’ll see the light one day.
- If you’re a vegetarian by choice rather than for health reasons, it’s actually easy to forget. For example, I seem to accidentally order chilli beef everytime I get a chinese takeaway. You just have to pick yourself up and try again, you’ll get there in the end.
These pits really do seem like such a small sacrifice when you look at the peaks of going meat-free, like living in a more sustainable way and knowing that you are reducing your contribution to climate change therefore having an impact on people who suffer most – those in poverty. For me, there’s no competition, so I’ll continue on this journey and even see what other things I can do to take better care of this world we call home.
This week is world meat-free week, so why not try and go meat-free for a day? You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it!
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