The last couple of days I have come across a number of interesting articles about the link between the consumption of meat and climate change and the ensuing call for reducing our consumption of meat and other animal products. It does unfortunately, for me at least, not only concern meat. It also involves products such as milk, eggs and cheese.
And then these days there is special interest for the consumption of animal products you easily overlook, that ‘sneak’ into your diet, such as cold meat or cheese, or processed in snacks on an evening out, or a meal or product you buy at the shop. ‘Sluipvlees’ we call it in Dutch. And it’s true, that can easily add up I noticed when I was paying special attention to it in the last couple of days.
And it’s remarkable to see how much the issue of consuming less animal products engages emotions and meets resistance. Also for myself and for those I will spend the upcoming festive days. Days you don’t want to spoil with arduous discussions about the rights and wrongs of the matter.
And secretly I realise that that suits me well. And that I use it as a reason to postpone the decision to further reduce my consumption of meat and especially of other animal products till next year. As a new year resolution. Maybe another one I will never fulfill.
I know eating less, or no meat and animal products makes a huge difference to the planet. I even have an app on my phone which registers what difference I make by following a vegetarian diet a few days a week. It indicates how much water and energy I save, the space I don’t use for food production and so on. It’s an app which should motivate me, because it gives me, if I want, an immediate insight and reward for my effort. And still I am not consistent in my choices. Which makes me wonder what other excuses my mind uses to stop me doing what I think is important for now and for the future.
When reading, and discussing the matter with friends, it’s interesting how each of us, who aren’t already vegetarian, or have already drastically reduced their consumption of animal products, uses their own set of arguments not to take (further) action.
And often that is not because we don’t agree with the fact that our current consumption has a wide range of negative impacts on our natural resources, or contributes to climate change.
Examples of the arguments I came across include:
‘I wouldn’t know what to cook if we ate vegetarian more than two or three times a week.’
‘My kids will ask for meat on the second day. They don’t consider a vegetarian meal as complete meal.’
‘I just like the taste of meat, so I don’t feel like changing my diet.’
‘How will my contribution make a difference, if everyone else continues the way they did before? So why should I make an effort (or some even use the word sacrifice), while others don’t contribute anything?’
‘It’s too difficult and time consuming to cook a vegetarian meal.’
‘My children are still growing; they do a lot of sports and need meat. So, I don’t have a choice.’
‘What would I put on my sandwich if not meat, cheese, egg or fish? Humus and veggies?’
‘Cattle breeding is essential for sustainable food production for all agriculture production. We shouldn’t all start to eat vegetarian or vegan to save the planet.’
‘I am sure we’ll find a solution soon for the current problems, I’m optimistic, like always in history, we’ll solve this issue as well.’
‘Christmas, new year without meat. Preparing a vegetarian meal for my friends and family? No, that won’t be appreciated.’
‘Asking my friends to serve a vegetarian meal because of my choice? No I will never do that.’
Often it’s a combination of the above: personal preferences, convenience, lack of time or because of being unfamiliar with the possible alternatives, health considerations, not feeling comfortable to make a different choice than friends and family, or an optimistic view on the future. And then of course, one argument which almost always seem to come back, like for similar kind of considerations linked to the environment, is the feeling of doubt about whether it will make a difference, and if doing so, wondering why it should be us making this sacrifice while others don’t bother.
And then there is also the constant temptation and the seemingly unlimited availability of often cheap animal products (sometimes almost cheaper than what you need for an alternative diet) that makes it difficult, at least for me.
All together, I realise that for me it is not for practical reasons that I don’t consistently follow a vegetarian diet. I do like to cook a vegetarian meal, and then don’t miss the meat.
It’s much more out of convenience and laziness, not wanting to cook a separate dish for myself when friends cook meat, or bothering others with my choice, and once there is meat on the table I find it difficult to resist as I like the taste and texture of it.
So maybe, if I put a little more effort in, and don’t always give in so easily, I should be able to stick to this new year resolution.
Who’s going to join me?