Red meat gives you cancer but is it portentous? There is always so much to think about.
Yes, killing animals is cruel. Animals fart and methane gas is produced, greenhouse gasses are rising, deforestation is happening every single day, the avocado debate, there’s air miles, milk, do lettuces have feelings? It’s endless…
The environmental and ethical debate around what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to eat is endlessly confusing. I like avocados but hate global warming – does this make me a hypocrite? How about soya milk? Don’t they grow soya beans in deforested areas in the Amazon… which they also feed to cows. So which milk is worse?
There is clearly no definitive answer to what we should eat. All of the above statements may be true, but, and take a deep breath here Daily Mail readers, you are allowed to eat avocados and still fight the climate crisis. With consumerism and globalisation ramming the latest superfood food quite literally down our throat, the instagrammable quality of a cute brunch with a caramel oat latte has never been so irresistible. Similarly, there is a constant bashing of ‘millennial’ food trends and how none of us should spend our money on anything other than a deposit for a two-bed terrace. In the middle of this it is understandable to ask, what am I allowed to do anymore?
And if you’re here for that answer you may be bitterly disappointed. No food nor drink is inherently good or bad, like everything in life there are pros and cons to eating certain foods. Clearly eating food with a gargantuan amount of air miles on it isn’t great, and there are huge issues with the intensive farming industry. We know that the monopolisation of products by certain huge corporations (hey Uniliver) kills small businesses, and plastic packaging on groceries is bad; and how about the decimation of our high streets because we’re all going to end up using Amazon pantry?
Ok, there is a huge problem with environmental eating and shopping. But this is the point, eating ‘bad stuff’ is unavoidable and participating in society and meeting your mates for a coffee is killing the planet. Sounds nasty right? The human race has stamped its colossal footprint all over the world, and whether we like it or not, we’re all stuck in its boot. That’s why to think about environmental eating and shopping is a bit like damage limitation, with a dollop of moral consciousness shoved on it.
Even if there is nothing good left, we can still do good things. Unless you’re going to move out to the woods and start making Into the Wild 2, you’re going to leave a footprint.
Here are a few ways to make that footprint smaller:
Buy local products from local businesses – where possible – because nothing beats ‘giving it to the man’ and not lining Tesco’s pockets with more of your hard-earned cash. Understandably, shopping like this is more expensive, so don’t bankrupt yourself for a few slices of Suffolk Ham (even better, ditch the ham).
Flexi-vegan-vegetarianism – If you really fancy the ham, that’s ok, steak, ok, Sunday roast, absolutely ok. You don’t have to follow a strict rulebook on eating even if you fancy going vegan. You can eat no animal products for a month then gorge on some beef and it won’t make you a bad person. If you want to follow a strict regime, that’s ok too, but do it for yourself and don’t torture yourself out of eating food you enjoy.
Plant-based-foods. Safely assuming lettuces don’t have feelings, eating more plant-based meals is a great way to lessen your environmental footprint. Like animals, they require some care and nurturing before they land on your plate, but pulses (beans, lentils, peas) have a miniscule impact on the planet compared to a Big Mac or Bargain Bucket, and also taste great in a curry.
Lastly, and bear with me on this one,
look after yourself first and the planet second (think pennies and pounds analogy). If you’re feeling good within yourself and have a positive mindset then the good work will come. Try making changes where you can, and where you can’t maybe urge others to do so, without shouting at them.
Remember, if you don’t own a coal power plant or fly everywhere by private jet then you’re already doing alright. Maybe next time you’re in the supermarket skip past the meat section, then vegetables and tins and fish section, head out the door and go to your local greengrocer, bakery, fishmonger or butcher if you really have to.