Jessica Lear is one of Restless Development’s Climate Campaigners, taking local action for global impact. In #NationalVegetarianWeek she wants to tell you why she’s trying ‘Meat Free May’ and how this links with her work for climate justice. 

I grew up thinking a meal wasn’t a meal without meat. And a pizza with only vegetables on top… You’re kidding right?

But over the past few months I started to realise just how unsustainable our current level of meat consumption is, particularly the devastating effect it’s having on the environment. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of these issues, but I admit I chose to ignore them for as long as I could. In the face of a problem so huge and seemingly unsolvable, what could I do? Might as well keep enjoying all things meaty.

The problem is, once you know these things, they tend to gnaw away at you, you can’t ‘unknow’ them. So, I started more research, watching documentaries such as Cowspiracy and reading blogs on here like Evie’s. And wow, I learnt a lot. The extensive exploitation of animals, mass rainforest deforestation for animal agriculture, soaring greenhouse gase emissions… pretty depressing stuff. But my research also showed me that whilst our diets can be a huge contributor to climate change, they can be part of the solution too! In fact, recent research found that widespread adoption of vegetarian diet would cut food-related emissions by 63%!

I decided that I just can’t sit back and pretend this isn’t happening any more! How can I continue eating meat on a regular basis when I know that I have the choice to be part of the solution, not problem. So, I’ve quit meat for a month. I’m on day twenty now (well over halfway through!) and you know what; it’s a lot easier than I thought! Even when ordering a pizza there are some great veggie options, tofu is no where near as bad as I thought and an English breakfast without bacon is still one of my favourite things to wake up to on a Saturday morning.

I’ve already discovered so many new and tasty meals, and feel a lot healthier too! I’m easily meeting that 5-a-day target. Friends of the Earth have loads of quick and easy veggie recipes to follow if you’d like something to help you experiment in the kitchen like me!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there will be times when I may struggle, especially when I eat out at certain restaurants. Yet this is only because the options often don’t reflect the huge variety in veggie food, something we can all play a part in demanding more of. But so far this experience has been eye opening and inspiring.

Why don’t you try it for the rest of May? You never know… It might change your perception of food forever. We all need to eat less meat, that’s pretty clear now, and all big global changes must start somewhere. So if you’re thinking by going vegetarian, even for a month, you’re not doing anything in the grand scheme of things, ask yourself, if not me, who? If not now, when?

What do you think?

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