Today is world vegetarian day.  Will that make a difference to you?

I’ll be vegetarian today even though I am not vegetarian. But I am sticking to my self-imposed regime of four vegetarian days a week – and this year I think I am averaging closer to five rather than four.

Why?  Well the reason that I have got to almost five days a week is a combination of the fact that is ridiculously easy and it seems like a kinder way to live on this planet.  Eating less meat is kinder to people (as it requires less land to produce the food and so there is potentially more food in the world), kinder to animals (fewer of them are reared for slaughter) and kinder to the planet (as there can be fewer greenhouse gases produced).  And it is ridiculously easy with just a little thought – and I can give it a little thought.

A better question would be why I can’t do better than four or five days meat-free (and fish-free) each week.  Well, I guess it’s because I like eating meat too.  And I do enjoy the meat I eat more now that it is more of a treat, and more of a decision to eat meat, than I used to when I’d have a bland chicken sandwich just because it was there.

Why not give it a try today?  Leave out the meat today and see whether you can pick a day next week, and the next.  I promise you that if you try it you will find it easier than you think.

Although it could be made easier still – too few restaurants have good vegetarian options in my opinion.  I have missed the occasional vegetarian day that I could have banked because I didn’t want risotto again or an omelette.  And can I just point out that just because I am choosing the vegetarian option doesn’t mean that I am not hungry and deserve a minute portion of a dull dish.

And all you vegetarians out there – I admire you but I’m not prepared to go that far yet (maybe never).  So why not give a bit of praise to those who eat less meat for moving in the right direction?


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19 Replies to “Veggie”

  1. Its also WWT Caelaverock's Birthday party today with the reserve opened 40 years ago. Hope the cake is free of all those fatty things made from cow not forgetting the candles!

  2. I always remember that when my son went vegetarian as a youngster, about 25 years ago, my mother served him sausages. When he complained she said' but I did cook them in vegetable oil'. That was from someone who had been brought up with the pig sty in the garden. How times have changed.

  3. And also today is National Badger Day

    1. Dave - thanks, I hadn't noticed that. So today it is definitely wrong to eat badgers! But another link suggests that National Badger Day is actually Monday But never mind, every day should be a badger day!

  4. As we've discussed before, this is actually really important for conservation - humans have ecology, too, not just animals, and all the evidence is that we're omnivores probably closest to bears I think ? My feeling is that we probably do best with some meat protein - but it doesn't have to be that much - my diet is probably a bit similar to Mark's, without too much thought about meat/non meat but rather eating what one feels like.

    The impact of our diet's versus the average first world diet would be enormous: it would probably make the UK self sufficient in food at a single stroke, and quite definately if you cut the disastrous waste in the supermarket supply chain. Rather better for birds, for people, for the environment than racking up intensive production even further to meet the luxury, unsustainable, unhealthy demands of today' average UK diet.

  5. I've never been a big fan of eating meat and around the turn of the century I realised my diet had naturally evolved to the point where meat was a fairly pointless addition to what I was eating.

    So I stopped eating mammals and birds because I also had an aversion to the farming practices that reduce the quality of the final product, reduce the quality of life of the animals and have such a negative impact on the countryside. My personal moral code can't support that, it's just plain wrong to me. It's a great example of how "the market" and "demand" shows the flaws in the system of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies whatever the real price to be paid.

    I still eat fish on a very rare occasion but this is becoming harder and harder given the frankly idiotic management of our sea resources - and this is the most frustrating of all to me. A vast resource of plenty completely and utterly ravaged; it beggars belief.

    So I'll eat a bit of MSC certified Scottish mackerel every 3-4 months and once in a while in a restaurant I'll try and pick a fish dish that isn't on the verge of collapse or from a fish farm (more often than not it's the risotto or pasta dish du jour).

    I avoid the large supermarkets as I feel their part in the demands on farmers exacerbates the pressures to produce (both in terms of meat and other crops). I think it comes down to expecting to pay a realistic price for fresh produce and buying what you need and not wasting it (did I read a statistic estimating that 1 in 3 bags of shopping ends up in the bin?!).

    For eating out the UK is pretty good for veggies if you go to the right kind of places.

    1. Brian - thanks for your comment. I am personally heading in your direction but you are quite far ahead of me. i do wonder what the greenhouse gas emissions associated with fisheries are because that is part of my decision-making calculation - does anyone know? The UK is not bad for veggie eating out - lots of Indian, Thai and chinese for a start. I've sometimes thought that someone should produce a guide to eating vegetarian in non-vegetarian restaurants. Which are the best places to meet your vegetarian friends which allow your carnivorous friends to eat well too?

      1. I've no clue what the carbon footprint of fisheries are or how you'd go about making an accurate study of the industry as a whole. You would think the EU would have some data available. Maybe you could phone DEFRA to find out, Mark? 😉 I'd be interested to see a breakdown of the industry.

        Eating out as a veggie is challenging sometimes (France, Spain . . . Donegal spring to mind for me) - especially if you're in mixed company. You need expert diplomatic skills if you've got vegans to placate too! The best bet is usually Indian. Italian can be a good choice as well. I've been pleasantly surprised with a lot of pub grub places. I think the general rule is the more rural you go the less easy it is to find a happy medium. I do tend to do some research on the Internet if I'm going somewhere ahead of time to get an idea of where might be good to eat.

        1. Brian - Spain is certainly a challenge. Vegetarian includes tuna, chicken, some chorizo and sausage in Spain!

  6. If you drive round this area every day is Badger day.
    Admire vegetarians immensely,also of course SFP makes veggies food cheaper as well as us meat eaters.Where I disagree with veggies about they are saving the planet is that all the productive areas of land not using artificial fertilisers are where the land gets lots of animal manure which seems more important but I still admire veggies on the grounds of not eating animals so well done on that score Mark

  7. Thanks for a thought provoking comment, Brian - as Mark says, I respect your thinking, especially about animal welfare.

    Thats where its perhaps worth expanding Dennis' comment - first, recycling nutrients (what used to be know as 'dung' before we all started talking in riddles !) maybe will become more important again as we look for lower carbon farming ? and, of course, one of the biggest impacts on farmland birds has been the decline in mixed farming in favour of pure arable or livestock. Big chunks of the world - including the western side of the Uk - are better suited to livestock grazing than arable and can produce livestock in conditions that most of us could sign up to - in contrast to the battery intensive farming that sadly and ineffciently produces far too much of our meat from carbon-hungry grain.

  8. I am a hunter gatherer - fungi, nuts, berries, a garden full of wonderful fruit and veg, meat/fish [hunter gathered] and so on. Incidentallly before badgers were proptected I regularly reduced their numbers [which was the correct management judging by today's population] we took off the hams dried them and eat them they were absolutely delicious.

  9. Around 6 years ago during a late mid life crisis! I spent six monthes travelling around central and south america visiting various wildlife hotspots. For me Argentina and it's meat products almost made me a vegetarian. After you have eaten argentinian beef you would never ever consider eating bland english produced beef again.
    I stayed on a ranch called San Juan de Poriahu ( worthy of a google search) run by a wildlife enthusiast called Marcos Garcia Rams ( again worthy of a google search). The ranch was around 30,000 hectares virtually all of which was unimproved grassland and which also adjoined the Estero del Iberas wetlands. The farm headquarters enclosure contained around 12 nesting raptors. This was the best farm for wildlife that I have ever visited. There were yellow anacondas, yacares (yellow caimen), Nandu or greater rhea along with around 200 other bird species. There were also marsh deer and maned wolf which are both endangered species. I would have no objection to eating beef produced from such an environment if I were also helping to preserve this environment. However i do object to eating beef from an environment which severely deteriorates the wildlife habitats which the farmland encompasses ie. most english farms. Perhaps scottish produced beef is not quite so intensively produced and in many cases utilises more natural type grassland.

    1. I cannot leave this comment from Dave H unchallenged 'beef from an environment which severely deteriorates the wildlife habitats which the farmland encompasses ie. most english farms' - this is totally inaccurate.
      The beef from single suckled herds within the 4 Nations is exactly the opposite. The presence of animals protects permanent pasture, creates a patchwork, stops a monoculture and is beneficial. How can one take contributors seriously when they do not endeavour to portray matters factually.

  10. I think Mark's way of eating less meat is great. Making changes that help the planet / wildlife don't have to be an "all or nothing". Eating less meat helps, and you don't have to go all the way and become vegetarian (unless you want to). Driving less helps - again you don't have to give up the car completely. I think sometimes we can get a bit bogged down by the feeling we have to do it 100%. We don't - but we do have to do it a bit. So well done Mark. I know you started with just 2 days per week and have built up gradually from there, which proves another point; getting started, however small, is the most important action of all.
    PS. I agree about restaurants, i am sick of rissotto and pasta!

  11. Althhough I admire veggies on not eating animals it seems very strange that lots of more intelectual people than me claim to be saving the planet by having less rumen animals on planet so saving gases when to a simple farm boy like me it is humans destroying the planet and certainly a planet with no humans would have more ruminants and planet survive more or less for evermore.With humans on planet even if all veggies cannot see that happening.Better not print the obvious.


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