Veg out

Make meat a treat

Nothing beats a good succulent steak (except perhaps a warm bacon butty after a night in a tent). But you can have too much of a good thing and that is a trap we humans are falling into with our increasingly carnivorous ways. Make meat a treat for a couple of months and you will improve your health, wallet and culinary expertise, not to mention your carbon footprint.

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Why

Here are a few reasons to take action.

Click for more info or scroll to read them all.

Climate change

Cows burp. A lot. And pigs eat. A lot.

Roughly 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by livestock and their products,1 that’s more than is produced by transport. The emissions are a result of increasing deforestation (to make space for growing animal feeds) and the methane gas emitted from belching cows. And on top of all that, there’s the energy-intensive production of fertilisers and all the transport involved.

In other words, meat is a pretty inefficient (albeit tasty) energy source, and the amount of land and energy needed to feed a vegetarian is a great deal less than that needed to feed a ravenous meat-eater.

One

beef steak emits more CO2 than driving for an hour and leaving all the lights on at home.2

Animal Welfare

From horsemeat scandals to battery-farmed chickens, a common motivation for vegetarianism is the poor animal welfare. Just listen to Jonathan Safran Foer for a glimpse into the reality of where our food comes from, or if you really want a raw idea of what’s going on, watch Earthlings. Warning: not for the faint hearted. If you can stomach this, you can stomach anything (except meat).

Deforestation

The primary cause of tropical deforestation is agriculture.3 Aside from staggering greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation leads to a whole host of problems. It displaces local communities, causes social unrest and corruption, disturbs rainfall patterns, increases flood risks, contaminates rivers and endangers native species. Basically, it’s bad news.

70%

of agricultural land is used up by livestock, providing grazing land and feedcrop.2

Health

Eating too much red meat is also bad for us – not least for our waistlines and arteries. Meat and dairy are the main source of saturated fats in our western diets, and their growing popularity is partly responsible for the huge increase in cases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and bowel cancer.

A study carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that regularly eating a small amount of processed red meat lead to a 20% increase in mortality rate. Or, in other words, eating things like bacon, salami, and sausages every day will knock 2 years off your life on average4.

Water

Not only does raising cattle take up space, it requires an enormous amount of water. One third of the world’s freshwater supply to be exact, according to Cowspiracy. One hamburger alone uses 660 gallons of water, which is the equivalent for showering for two months1!

So next time, maybe give that a thought before taking that juicy bite.

Global Goals

In September 2017, a historic agreement was signed by UN member nations agreeing to work towards 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030, otherwise known as the SDGs.

Achieving these ambitious goals will require action from governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals alike. We can - and must - all play our part.

By making the 'Veg out' pledge, you are contributing in your own small way to the following SDG targets:

2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality

3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

12.8: By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species

How

You needn't become a die-hard vegetarian - going meat-free for a few days isn't too tough and is a great start. Then you can use the money you'll have saved on buying some free-range or organic meat when it's time to treat yourself.

Here are some handy recipe books and resources to get you going:

Yotam Ottolenghi's 'Plenty' is a fantastic selection of vegetarian recipes bursting with flavour.

Less Meat, More Veg is another classic recipe book to help you cook up a hearty vegetarian storm.

National Vegetarian Week have a wealth of recipe suggestions on their site, many from the good old Hairy Bikers.

• To ease the transition, why not have fresh veg delivered to your doorstep? Organic veg box schemes like Riverford are super handy.

• Check out Stylist's list of the 30 must-visit vegetarian restaurants around the UK.

Success Stories

2,672

Pledges
in total

120,772kg

CO2
pledged

Encouraged much more imaginative cooking.

Very easy as I choose my meals or ingredients in advance, and it’s better for my health anyway so not difficult at all.

Not one single scrap of meat was eaten. INCLUDING Christmas day.

I loved eating less meat and have enjoyed having more fish in my diet. Definitely keeping it up.

Found it made me more aware of how much CO2 I was consuming when eating meat and definitely felt healthier eating more veg meals.

It's actually incredibly easy to do once you use your imagination a little and check out some new recipes!

I think I'll eat more veggie meals from now on so thanks for helping me make the change!

I found it really useful to have this in mind when I was eating out and shopping. I have been virtually meat free for weeks/months now and feeling loads better for it.

I actually went fully vegetarian for the period of lent. Am now back on meat but will definitely cut down the amount I eat each week.

I found it quite easy by replacing my meat with meat free product and fish, which I will be doing from now on. Thank you for your support.

I went completely vegetarian from the beginning of my first pledge until the 26th of April! Meat is most definitely now a treat, I now only really eat meat if it's been bought and cooked for me by someone else! I feel healthier and save money by eating less meat. Delicious results x

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