“No turkey for him, he only eats peas”.
“Yeah, I heard you were turning funny”.
These are some of the messages of support I’ve received recently during my attempts to become ecotarian. Many people, including those I know who are “environmentally-conscious”, have not heard of the concept, let alone understand it. Even my word processor is telling me to correct it to sectarianism. Better add to dictionary.
To be ecotarian is to enter into a web of trade-offs. Let’s say you’re aware poultry and meat are some of the most resource-intensive food products - so you opt for some cucumber, humus and pitta bread. In the supermarket, the damn cucumbers have been shipped in from southern Europe. You look for something you enjoy eating that hasn’t travelled more than a gap-year student and so you end up in the kebab shop. Fail.
It’s tricky. Don’t worry, The Ecotarian has prepared a few guidelines of ecotarianism – follow them all or pick your favourites.
Take it slow - it’s a gallant effort to change your lifestyle like this. Small steps such as cutting down to one piece of meat per day can be a great foundation for larger changes, and help you save money too.
Initially, it is easiest to start cutting food that no longer fits into your diet, but this brings the risk of missing out on key food groups and nutrients. Make sensible switches – there a lots of helpful resources out there.
Every ecotarian is different so be wise, pick up tips and share. Also, learning more about where your food comes from can be really rewarding and help you to rediscover the joy of eating!
We have hope that a lot people are willing to act on their beliefs about sustainable living, and could benefit from knowing like-minded people. Discussing these ideas without preaching or judging others’ choices is a great way to build sustainable communities.
Remember that the global food system is a lot, lot bigger than you. Although collective changes in habit can create consumer pressure, the nature of the beast means you won’t be able to be perfect.
You may start to look at the bigger picture of the food system - getting involved in larger movements and petitioning those in power are great ways to make positive changes to the way things work. Of course, if for you ecotarianism is purely personal, that’s great too – and as a consumer you vote with your wallet.
There are many reasons for doing what you are doing - whether that be protesting against animal cruelty, preaching sustainability, reducing your carbon footprint or removing the temptation to have an extravagant appetite.
This is not just about eating differently. It’s also about supporting local business, reducing your carbon footprint, boycotting environmentally-detrimental food production processes and aiming for a fairer distribution of food on a global scale.
Check out our guides for more ideas on everything from shopping sustainably to making use of tight gardening space in London!