I haven’t bought meat in over a month, sort of. Over the past few months, my husband and I have really been on an eco-kick sustainable living journey of sorts. As you know, we started backyard composting and gardening. My recycling habits have really been put in check and we started looking at our day-to-day consumption and how we could make better choices. Little by little we’ve been looking at the things we use, how we use them, what their impact is and how we could make better choices. We started having conversations about how products are made, where products come from, the insane amount of plastic we come in contact with and how we can cut it back. The list of things we started talking about, caring about, and exploring goes on and on, but one of the biggest changes we decided to make came about literally one evening sitting on the couch.
One evening sitting on the couch, my husband and I watched the documentary What the Health and before it was over we had decided to cut meat out of our home diet. I do want to clarify that I didn’t take what the documentary said at face value. I’ve done my own research since watching it and I am well aware that it does make some unsupported claims, but despite what the health implications of meat consumption are you can’t deny how devastating meat production is for the planet and that is really what I care about. This documentary was just a catalyst for my husband and I to go, “ok we’ll change.”
For years now I’ve been aware that meat consumption and really just the use of animal products in our day-to-day eating habits is one of the worst things for the environment. I’ve been aware it’s one of the worst things, but I’ve also known that it was something I really didn’t want to give up. I LOVE cheeseburgers! And my husband and I love grilling. Both of our families are really big meat eaters. Although we aren’t the sort of people that need meat in every meal, quite often in Hawaii we would enjoy meat free meals, but we never wanted to make the conscious decision to avoid it, until now, sort of. (I keep saying sort of and I swear I will clarify soon, just hang in there.)
We never wanted to make the decision to cut it out completely, mainly because we like food. All food. We like trying new foods and cooking new foods. Most of the time we are open to try anything and those sort of adventures make us happy. We love going to new places and trying local food. We like seeking out undiscovered restaurants or food trucks. And oftentimes, most times, that includes meat. We still feel this way, but we have finally made the move to make a change, sort of.
When I say I haven’t bought meat in over a month, I mean I haven’t included meat in any of our grocery runs. Since sometime towards the end of July I have not bought meat or prepared meat for myself or my husband. That is our new rule. That is our baby step towards plant based eating.
We now no longer will buy meat or include meat in our meals at home. We still use some animal products – butter, cheese, mayo, eggs – but no meat and we are hoping to slowly phase some if not all of those things out eventually too, at least at home (We’ve already given up milk.). We no longer prepare or consume meat at home, but we still allow ourselves to eat whatever we want when we eat out and we still eat meat that our family and friends prepare. (We also agreed that special occasions, holidays, birthdays, celebrations, will be exceptions to the rule if we want it to be.)
I know since we are still consuming animal products at home and meat from restaurants our impact is small, but small matters and it’s a start. As I’ve started to make these changes, despite how important I think they are, I think it’s even more important to not push these changes on everyone else. Lifestyle changes, sustainable/zero waste/eco-friendly or any other lifestyle changes, are only sustainable if a person really wants to make the change. The change will only stick and last if a person feels like it is their choice, that they are in control, and that they are doing it because they want to and it works for them. Not because they have to or someone made them. So I never push my habits on anyone else, nor would I want anyone to push their habits on me.
You want to eat meat with every meal, go for it! You need your straw with your soda, ok. The only shampoo that makes your hair feel amazing comes in a plastic bottle, go and buy it. It’s your life, I’m not here to tell you what to do. What I am here to do is to make the decisions that are best for me, that I think matter, and if you want to know why I’m doing a certain thing, I’m here to share that with you too. Maybe I’ll inspire you. Maybe you think I’m crazy. Both are fine with me.
I said earlier in this ramble that small changes matter and they do, no matter what that small change is. I would love it if everyone put the planet first. It would be amazing if everyone gave up straws and other pointless single use plastic. If everyone cared about green energy and conserving energy. If it wasn’t the norm here in America to eat meat with every meal. But that’s going to take time and not everyone agrees with all those changes. I also think that there are small changes everyone can make that would make a difference, whether it be giving up plastic straws, only using reusable cups, taking the bus to work, practicing meatless Mondays, or anything else from a list of amazing small changes. I also think oftentimes people don’t make those changes because they feel like it doesn’t matter or their change doesn’t have an impact. I also feel like often times people that are making small changes are judged by those that have made bigger changes for not doing enough and that makes them give up those small changes and that needs to stop.
I guess what I’m trying to say, in my personal opinion, is that small changes add up. Small changes make a difference and if everyone started making small changes that would lead to big changes. It needs to be ok for people to make small changes that fit into their lifestyle because if you expect everyone to make big drastic changes overnight it’s not going to happen. I’m not a scientist and I don’t know the numbers or statistics, but I personally would rather see everyone I know make a small change in their daily life than convince one person to make a bunch of big changes in their life.