Happy new year, foodies! Here at the Ecotarian we're ready to green up our food system in 2017, buoyed up with fresh faces, ideas and determination. And, because change begins at home, we've reflected on some of our personal goals for the year below! Send us yours in the comments, or on twitter @The_Ecotarian.
Naomi: Eating well without breaking the bank
It turns out that going vegetarian doesn’t mean you’ll be healthier! Early last year I made the decision to ditch meat, fish and as much dairy as I could manage, excluding food either cooked for me by friends or destined for the bin. Plans of weekly farmer's market trips and top-ups at the organic shop were replaced by takeaway pizza and more chips than I care to admit as my time, money and imagination trickled away (for the 5am chicken shop trips I can only ask forgiveness). This year, I’m planning to tackle this by being realistic with my budget, planning ahead, and getting inspiration for home-cooked meals from my ever-growing pile of vegetarian cookbooks. I may have to switch out organic for everyday value now and again, but being an ecotarian is all about finding a balance that suits you!
Clea: Byebye to dairy & hello to creative baking
My sweet tooth wakes me up in the morning and puts me to bed at night: I love a piece of toast in the morning with a thick layer of honey and a good many squares of dark chocolate with my peppermint tea before going to bed - oh yea and that afternoon snack! But this also means that if I am offered a piece of cake, I will never say no! Typically these will contain high-fructose corn syrup and dairy. My eco-resolution of the year is to scratch out the dairy from my diet as much as possible! This means saying no to cakes, saying no to those easy-to-grab cereal bars and satisfying my sweet tooth with some home baking, home made oat bars, a cheesecake with no cheese - and how about a healthy style carrot cake? Oh, and eliminating those chocolate bars and replacing them with vegan treats.
Arnaud: eat more sustainably, beyond labels and fancy vegetarian products
For the new year I’ll do all of what I can to ditch the plane and use the train as much as possible when I travel on the European continent. And since that has actually not much to do with food...I’d really want to put what I’ve learned through the Ecotarian perspective into practice. It’s about getting contextual and understand what is actually harmful for the environment. For example, in the UK and in other European countries, boars and dears are in some regions too numerous, and it can be a good thing to regulate their populations. On the other side, I would not buy organic apples from remote places such as New Zealand, reduce my consumption of processed food because it’s often full of palm oil, and be careful about avocados which can be very harmful for the environment to grow, because of world demand.
Ian: Prepare for good food
This year is all about being prepared. Even the most optimised diet plan can crumble when it meets reality, so this year I will be preparing meals over the weekend to stick with it when the going gets tough during the week. This will save time, money, and energy, and allow me to further reduce my consumption of processed foods and animal products, as well as cut out dallying in the Sainsbury's on the way home for the third time this week. The plan is for a more verdant diet while still hitting nutrient and budgetary targets for a healthier and wealthier year. For a treat, I am hoping to find interesting, fresh, and sustainably caught seafood from our own coasts and maybe do some of the catching myself.
Ronan: Keep learning, keep progressing
Being an ecotarian is complicated. It ain’t easy knowing the history of your entire shopping basket, let alone having an idea of reasonably-priced eco-friendly alternatives. This takes time and sometimes it’s impossible to know. So, my humble contribution to the ecotarian movement is to keep making small changes to my diet based on the facts and figures I find out along the way. Like swapping cow’s milk for soy milk because cows let greenhouse gases out of their backsides, or eating more vegan meals because livestock require much more land, energy and water. If I can become a half-decent ecotarian while still shopping at a local and affordable supermarket, I should be able to convince other people to do the same.
Rogier: Determined newbie
I'm shamefully new to the ecotarian game, but have lived with a set of staunchly vegan (no honey!) housemates for a few years now. When we cook together it's pure vegan but I'm substantially slacker when out and about in the big bad world of cheap and readily available cheesy/meaty snacks. I'm determined to slash my meat and dairy consumption over this year, lessening my personal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and ethically questionable food production.
Moritz: Remain an epicure!
My new year’s resolution is to continue and to improve my commitment to only eat meats that I either have sourced myself or where I know much about the quality & locality of the product (epicure). As it is sometimes difficult to stick to when eating out, I am aiming to limit myself to only eat meats on weekends or on special occasions. The same applies to my dairy intake. I generally only consume limited amounts of it, but sometimes have to indulge when I am in the appropriate area (you must have cheese when in Switzerland!). This weekday-vegetarianism (as it is sometimes called), if applied to the whole world, would resolve the food crisis by itself. I generally don’t have an appetite for heavily processed foods, but will nevertheless strive to further reduce my intake of them and replace it with fruits & vegetables that are in season.
Next to changing eating habits, I aim to use my time at university to research issues further down the food supply chain and to do my bit to educate people about sustainable agricultural practices and the importance of sustainable hunting practises as a mean of protecting nature & conserving biodiversity.
Jackie: Growing, growing, growing
Living on a remote campus outside of London, you’d think the surrounding picturesque landscape would result in mountains of fresh produce, but fresh and sustainable food is surprisingly difficult to come by. Most students put in massive orders with large supermarket chains every week, and packaging and food waste happens, even amongst a tight-knit group of environmentally-conscious ecologists and masters students. A new allotment space is being built on campus, nearly outside my window, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and putting the pile of gardening books I’ve gotten from the library to good use! Fresh vegetables, here I come!