We are not a vegetarian or vegan family. We are an omnivore family like a large proportion of people on the planet. We eat a mixture of meat, vegetables, fruit (I’m pretty sure Monty could be a fruitarian), grains, dairy, nuts, and all the other food choices our planet provides. Like a lot of families, we have always had meat with our night time meals. Our family was consuming somewhere between 300-400lbs (160-180kg) of meat a year. That’s a lot of meat and it’s killing the planet.
I used to give myself a pat on the back for “Meatless Mondays” and doing my bit for the environment. At only a 15% reduction in the overall meat consumption in our family, it’s wasn’t really enough to make a difference. For some reason, switching to a largely plant-based diet appeared to be a huge challenge. I grew up in a meat and three veg family. Preparing meals without meat that the kids would eat seemed to be a big hurdle. Turns out, the hurdle was in my own head. Once I made the mental switch, it became quite simple. In fact, the kids barely noticed. Here are some of the things that helped me to make the shift.
- Tap into your community – Being vegetarian is much more common than it used to be. Ask your vegetarian or vegan friends for their favorites dishes. One of the online communities I belong to started a post of their favorite veg meals. I’ve saved that post and am working my way through all the recipes.
- Find your favorite cooking blogs – these are three of my favorites but there are a ton out there:
- Know your diners – Our kiddos don’t like eggs so a lot of the frittata type recipes are out for us as a whole family (all the more for Eliot and me) – they do however love some pretty bold flavors, (Mexican & Indian), love all the beans and are carb monsters so I look for ways to ensure there are things they will enjoy. Oh, and tofu is out for now too…
- Plan your meals – Once a week, come up with a menu. Rotate through the favorites in your house. Introduce new dishes every now and then.
- Include the little guys – Eliot and I have both started getting Grace (who influences Monty) into the kitchen to help prepare or taste test before dinner. It means there is more of a chance, she will not shout out ‘this is disgusting’ before she’s even taken a bite and put Monty off in the process.
Apart from the driver of a lower footprint on our planet, here are some of the other benefits I’ve noticed directly.
- Our food bill is lower. We are saving about $10-15 a week not buying so much meat
- Because we are not buying so much, we can focus on getting the meat we do buy from more sustainable farms. Our next step is getting it from a regenerative local farm.
- Our poops are better. Don’t ask how I know but all the extra fiber is going somewhere…
- I feel better – I’m not sure whether everyone else in the family is feeling better or whether it’s because I just feel better psychologically from implementing changes that will mean our kids wont be growing up with desertification but I do feel… better
It is easy to get caught in the all-or-nothing mindset and I still struggle with not doing enough to not only preserve our environment but reverse the effects of our unintentional lifestyles. However, ‘Progress, not perfection’ is the mantra of the day, each small step can make a difference.
If you are struggling with finding space in your busy mum life to make progress towards reducing your footprint or other kinds of goals, I can help you find your focus and achieve that got-it-together feeling. Start here with my ‘Pie of Life‘ assessment. 10