For the past couple of years, my diet has taken a tilt significantly in the direction of vegetarianism. Here are the 2 big reasons why.
- Health. My interest was triggered by the flurry of Netflix documentaries* a few years ago which really pushed veganism. This gave me the prompt to look into it a little more with me eventually reading a book called The Blue Zones – Lessons for Living Longer From The People Who’ve Lived The Longest. It really interested me that there were these areas around the world where people lived longer and healthier lives. Even more interesting was the fact that there were patterns which were consistent across all the areas.
The main pattern for me, with regards to vegetarianism, was that across most of the Blue Zones, people ate a playing card deck sized piece of meat once per month. Until that point I was probably eating that much every day! So I stopped immediately and my wonderful family accepted the challenge of adapting the weekly menu to suit my updated preferences and in fact we all now enjoy a much more plant-based diet all week round. In looking into it even further, I now understand more about the negative impacts caused by the antibiotics which get pumped into fish, poultry and meat, the negative effects of which are concealed from the consumer, I believe.
* For example “What The Health”. In truth, I didn’t enjoy the way these documentaries were produced as I found them to be highly sensationalist. The propaganda-esque nature of them was quite a turn-off. However, I am grateful that they triggered me to consider a little more consciously what I was eating.
2. Environment. The carbon emissions from the production of meat compared with alternatives are incredible.
The stats around the use of water during vegetable production are surprising enough. Around meat production they are truly startling.
So both the impact of the greenhouse emissions and water use in the production of meat are supplementary reasons why I choose to minimise my meat intake.
What do I do now?
- I track my vegetarian days in my habit tracker, See 300, Like Spartan.
- I eat meat a maximum of 1 day per week, on average. This is more than the Blue Zones recommended quantity but if I am to be successful with this (and other habits) I need to be able to adapt them a little to suit the needs of the family. In addition, I feel that the iron from additional meat consumption supports my training for running events, which are good for me so there is an offsetting balance.
- We buy the best meat available, typically organic beef, cold-water line-caught fish and organically fed and free-range poultry in order to minimise the potential impact of harmful additives and other nasty unknowns.
So the evidence around the health related impacts of regularly consuming meat and the environmental stats around its production all have me comfortable with my current situation of eating meat and similar products only occasionally.
I’m very interested to hear alternative arguments which I welcome below.
I went vegetarian a few years ago after reading ‘The Ethics of What We Eat – Why Our Food Choices Matter’. I expected it to be all about cruelty to animals and for a large part it was. However it also focused on the harmful effects of industrial farming. About six months ago when my son switched to a vegan diet, I joined him. With so many ‘meat like’ products on the market it’s so easy. I’m consistently running more than 100k a week at the moment and don’t feel as if my diet is having a negative impact.
Yes thanks for the comment Brian, that’s the other thing, it’s becoming easier to achieve with so many good alternatives and replacements. Good on you on the weekly mileage- very impressive!
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