John Rose, Director of the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales tells us his experience of trialing Meat Free Mondays with his Family.
I wasn’t fully aware of the environmental impacts of eating lots of meat, until reading some of the information The Funds Green Champions* had posted on the Green Wall** in the Cardiff Office.
Why too much meat is bad for the Environment
According to the United Nations, animal farming globally causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, lorries and planes in the world put together, and the effect is increasing. There are many inter-linked reasons for this, including:-
- Large amounts of animal feed need to be produced to
make relatively small amounts of meat or milk, not to mention emissions from the transport of the feed, or indeed the meat produced.
- Animal feed is usually produced using nitrogen fertilizers, which are energy intensive to create and result in emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Natural ‘carbon sinks’ such as forests, that absorb greenhouse gases, are destroyed to make way for animal grazing, or crops for animal feed. Removing trees often also destroys the soil and the habitats of birds and other wildlife.
- Livestock particularly cows and sheep emit high levels of methane!
Introducing Meat Free Mondays to my family
As a hardened carnivore of more years than I care to reveal, but with a green conscience, this gave me a sense of both guilt and trepidation. After all I am the man who, following a vegetarian leaving do, had to go for a kebab to satisfy my cravings for protein!
So in May, as the main cook in our household I resolved to introduce “Meat Free Mondays” to the Rose household. Having trained and worked as a chef (and having the figure to match) and inspired by some of the recipes on the champions board, I set about concocting such culinary delights as Pasta Puttanesca, Mushroom Stroganoff and Roast vegetable, lentil and goat cheese salad
It’s now July and while progress hasn’t been plain sailing we’re still on track. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how tasty most of the recipes are, more difficult has been convincing my kids, “Nut Free Nia” and “Carnivorous Celyn” to ditch meat for the day. I’ve even caught them discussing having school dinners on Monday so they can have meat without me knowing!
Here are a few hints for introducing Meat Free Mondays to your family;
- Unless you’re a vegan don’t forget eggs and cheese. I find if I eat just a bit of protein, I feel fuller for longer.
- It doesn’t have to be a day: – I now seldom eat meat at lunchtime; – current favourites are left over veggie pasta dishes, Greek salad and my own homemade soups.
- Look to others for inspiration, and adapt recipes you love but replace meat with veggies and Tofu (although I’m still not convinced on the latter).
- Entice your kids with what you know they like, pizzas a good one, and pastas with tomato sauce (but with lots more veg whizzed into the sauce).
What are benefits?
Well despite the cheese it does help reduce fat in your diet, and therefore weight loss. It’s also a lot cheaper, meat is becoming increasingly expensive. I also have to say the flavours are great, particularly if the produce is fresh.
Will I be turning vegetarian?
No, I still enjoy good quality meat so I tend to buy less and better, but it’s like anything, so a bit more balance will hopefully taste better, cost less and even make me a bit healthier!
How can I get involved?
There is lots of information and inspirational ideas at: www.meatfreemondays.co.uk
You can follow John on Twitter here: @JohnBigLottery
Here is a short video by Animal Aid demonstrating what a difference a day makes.
*The Green Champions are a voluntary network within the National Lottery Community Fund dedicated to raising awareness of environmental issues and reducing our impact on the environment.
**The Green Wall is a notice board in our kitchen which the Green Champions use to promote green issues to staff.