When I promised to lead a more sustainable lifestyle as part of my New Year’s resolutions – including shopping more mindfully and transitioning to a low-waste lifestyle – I also wanted to look at my dietary choices and how they impact the world.
If you asked me a few months ago if I would ever dare become a pescatarian, I would have said no. I would have been busy scoffing down a late night taco in Astoria with my then boyfriend, skirt steak juices dripping down our elbows.
But over the course of a few months, I saw myself favoring a predominantly plant-based diet. What prompted me? Well, I have a handful of friends who are pescetarian, vegetarian and vegan, but they’re not ones to ‘convert.’
The World Resources Institute reports that producing meat and dairy products puts more pressure on our land, water and climate, in comparison to plant-based foods. For example, beef accounts for one third of the earth’s water footprint for farm animal production. A quarter of the Earth’s land mass, excluding Antarctica, is used as pasture. They state that changing to a plant-based diet will significantly reduce agricultural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Of course, there are the health benefits too. A number of reports conclude that eating plant-based foods significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease to name a few.
It was a no-brainer for me. I don’t eat fish, crustaceans or shellfish that often, but I wouldn’t mind having that option as I transition toward vegetarianism by the end of the year. Challenging as it is, I’m determined to make it happen and this is how I’m going to do it:
GOAL #3: SWITCH FROM A PESCATARIAN DIET TO A VEGETARIAN DIET
Make cooking and meal prep fun. For someone who’s relied so much on pre-packaged meals and takeout options, the new world of home cooking is daunting and exciting at the same time! I’ll be filling up my recycled jars,stasher bags and reusable containers with scrumptious meals, while making sure I still maintain a zero-waste kitchen.
I’ll seek inspiration from food bloggers like Little Miss Meat Free, The Little Plantation and the budget-friendlyCooking on a Bootstrap and all the lovely Instagram accounts that celebrate vegetarian dishes. When I’m not busy salivating over recipes and photos, I’ll visit vegetarian restaurants and try to recreate the masterpieces back at home.
Say hello to sustainable seafood shopping. Greenpeace reports that destructive fishing practices such as deep sea trawling and overfishing have caused a number of species such as tuna and swordfish to drop by as much as 90% over the past 50 years. On my trips to the fishmonger and the supermarket, I’ll be taking their list of 22 marine species they deem should not be made commercially available for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s from dwindling stock numbers or irresponsible fishing and farming practices that contribute to the destruction of our oceans, these species should be left alone. I also love the MSC’s (Marine Stewardship Council) worldwide database of all sustainable seafood products online.
Tofu chorizo, anyone? Meat-free products have come a long way over the last few years, and if I ever get the hankering for a burger or a sausage, I know I’ve got grocery alternatives to cover me. The Metro’s listicle of meat-alternatives is a great starter and PETA UK even lists their BBQ-worthy meat alternative brands!
Be Inspired. Be fully informed. I no longer need convincing, but I’ll be adding documentaries such as Cowspiracyto the ones I’ve already seen like Peaceable Kingdom and Forks Over Knives. I’ll also be poring over sites such as the Vegetarian Society and visiting restaurants that are in Happy Cow’s extensive worldwide database.
Most importantly, I vow not to be too hard on myself. If I have a challenging day or slip up, I promise to hug the cat, remind myself that I’m a compassionate individual and remember all the other great reasons and benefits of turning vegetarian.
If you’ve recently made the transition, I’d love to know how you did it in the comments below!