What is your name?
Where do you live?
Flexitarian, mostly cooked from scratch.
What was your motivation to start eating less meat?
It’s been a gradual shift over several years, starting with efforts to seek out higher welfare meat in my very early 20s, probably thanks to awareness-raising campaigns such as Jamie Oliver’s and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s around chicken welfare. Over time and stints working in jobs related to sustainability in the restaurant sector and agricultural policy I’ve acquired an awareness of the environmental impact of our modern agriculture industry.
In trying to buy ‘better’ meat when I do most of my shopping at supermarkets I’ve also realised that it’s really hard to find out about both animal welfare and environmental impact, and also completely impossible at the current time to live an ‘environmentally neutral’ life, unless you live in an entirely subsistence manner.
Less but better meat is the practical solution I’m actually likely to follow for now, with an slightly stronger emphasis on the less because ‘better’ is so relative and hard to quantify, and because convenience often stops me getting to a butcher.
How many meat-free days do you have in a week?
Usually around 3-4, sometimes 5. And then days when small quantities anchovies or bacon apparently count as “veggie” because I’ve lost a negotiation with my partner… But he’s also changed his meat consumption dramatically.
What are the benefits?
It’s obviously cheaper. We love eating, and opt to spend quite a lot of our money on food. But the thought of buying 7 portions of meat a week, let alone more if I were in the habit of having meat at lunchtime too, fills me with horror at what our food bills would be! And that’s particularly because we want to make ethical choices, and in doing so the price of our meat includes the cost of treating the animals well and looking after things like the wildlife on a farm, water quality and carbon emissions generated. Eating less meat means we can afford to do that.
I love meat, and I still object ideologically to giving it up altogether, something in time I might change my mind on but I’m far from ready to now. I also find it surprisingly hard to cut out butter and dairy, so although a lot of our diet is veggie, My next step is probably to try to fit in one vegan meal a week, which needs a bit more concentration! Since my motivation is environmental, the same ‘less but better’ principle should apply to dairy food as much as it does to meat, but I haven’t managed to make that a habit yet.
Have your family and friend been supportive?
I think my mum tried to cook in a flexitarian way for us as teenagers because I remember her saying we should have at least two veggies dinners a week. Generally, though, I don’t mention it much when we visit; I might just eat less meat for the rest of the week if I’ve had a lot when staying with friends and family.
My partner’s changed his behaviour hugely, despite being initially sceptical. A couple of years ago he gave up meat for Lent (having done chocolate and booze before and wanting a new challenge), which had far more impact on our friends who would probably have just put down such a move from me as linked to my environmentalism and slightly inconvenient!
At home, guests will often get veggie food but I can’t think that anyone’s ever questioned it :).
It’s actually got meat and cream in… It’s an Italian dish which translates to ‘straw as hay with ham and peas’. It’s great for using leftover ham (and a little goes a long way) and dead quick to put together.
Favourite place to eat out?
I live in London – there are too many to choose! It’s one of the things I love most about the city. We often end up in Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien for brunch at the weekends – they have a great menu with lots of veggie and vegan options. The Sustainable Restaurant Association are a good resource for finding ethically-minded restaurants (www.foodmadegood.org).
The one with the pasta dish above in. It’s called ‘Pasta Italian Style’, written by Patricia Lousada and published in the 80s by Sainsburys. It doesn’t look much but it’s full of fantastic recipes and was a stalwart of home cooking when I grew up :). When I moved out of my parents house I had to buy my own copy because I knew I couldn’t live without it.
You can read more about Steph on her blog How Much Meat Do I Eat?
Flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan? We would like to know what motivates the way you eat and why it is important for you to eat less meat or even no meat at all. If you would like to be featured, please send us an email at email@example.com