Inspired by Veganuary, Bristol Food Network volunteer Isobel Cox looks at ways to eat ‘less and better’ meat and dairy all year round.
January is inevitably a month of resolutions: ‘Dry Jan’, gym membership booms and Veganuary. This year I decided to take part in the latter – having been a vegetarian for 14 years I’ve struggled to make the transition into veganism. But the environmental state of the planet terrifies me, and the massive, globalised meat and dairy industries appears to be a major factor, which is why I can really get behind Going for Gold’s action to ‘eat more meat-free meals’ – a key ‘Eating Better’ action.
I enjoyed Veganuary. There were of course a few slip-ups, but on the whole it went well and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. But the trouble with resolutions is that we usually end up breaking them – by attempting too much, too quickly. Alternatively, the idea of flexitarianism – eating less meat/dairy and better quality meat/dairy when we do eat it, is a very achievable one. I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to make it even easier:
Get involved with a veg box scheme: A great way to support local food suppliers and try lots of new veg, this will definitely help with the ‘eating more veg’ Going for Gold action. The schemes are affordable too – you can get a weekly box for as little as £7.60. There are many different options across all of Bristol, and there’s a comprehensive list here.
Only eat meat and dairy when you eat out: I have many friends who eat vegetarian at home and treat themselves to good quality, local meat when they eat out. There are so many restaurants in and around Bristol that really care about the provenance of their ingredients and make sure they’re local and/or ethically sourced, like Poco Tapas Bar,Root,The Ethicurean and Box-E.
Don’t be too hard on yourself: If you slip up and get a bacon double cheeseburger from McDonalds, don’t beat yourself up and fall into a cheap meat spiral. Accept that you’re human and move on, but next time maybe consider an alternative when you’re craving junk food – like Oowee Vegan, or even one of the new plant-based offerings from KFC, Burger King and Subway.
Find great alternatives: Rather than bulk-buying cheese in the supermarket, find a local cheesemonger and ask them for recommendations. The Bristol Cheesemonger at Wapping Wharf is a great option, sourcing seasonal, local South West cheeses. The cheesemongers who work there are incredibly knowledgeable and more than happy to spend time discussing options with you. On a recent visit I was recommended the Montgomery Cheddar (£5.09 for 200g), Stichelton (£5.04 for 175g), and a unique Lamb Leer (£8.50 for 250g) – which were all outstanding. Being noticeably more expensive than typical supermarket options it makes sense to eat smaller quantities, but there’s so much flavour you don’t need as much! Plus you’re supporting local businesses with sustainable practices – a key ‘Buying Better’ action. Another great local option is the vegan Flip Deli & Cafe on North St who offer great vegan products (like cheese) from local artisanal producers. They are helpful and happy to chat to you about the different products – on my last visit I was recommended the sumac and cumin cultured cashew cheese from Bath Culture House (£5.50 for 120g), which was again delicious!
Isobel Cox is a volunteer for Bristol Food Network. She lives in Bristol and is studying towards a Food Studies MA at the University of Exeter. Her academic and personal interest is about how to develop food systems that are sustainable for all.
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