Veganuary. What does it mean to you?

To me, an omnivore, it means that other omnivores choose to go vegan for the month of January. What I want to know is do these people, who do Veganuary, eat ethically produce fruit and veg? Do they source their food locally and are they eating seasonally? If so, then I don’t have a problem with it. However, what I do have a problem with is if they are eating fruit and veg that has contributed to deforestation, that has flown halfway across the world and not been grown in their country. One’s effort to do what’s ‘right’ for the planet has increased deforestation by burning the rainforests and destroying the wildlife and the use of fossil fuels just so one can have their soya burger and almond milk.

Unfortunately, when omnivores decide to stop eating meat for one month, they don’t realise the impact that they have to the food chain. When an animal is ready to go, they must go. The farmer cannot keep them for longer for when you decide to start eating meat again. The steak you buy for your super has taken a minimum of two years to get to your plate. You simply cannot turn the tap off when the #Veganuary fad comes rolling round each year. We need to cut the bullshit and eat a more localised, seasonal and regenerative diet. Declaring a war on meat doesn’t solve the problem, it just replaces it with another, more complicated one. The problem is the “how” not the “cow”.

Veganism is not a step forward for the environment if you are eating imported fruits and veg from all round the world.

Imagine, if for the month of January, you only ate foods that were local, seasonal and farmed using regenerative agriculture, whether or not you eat meat.

Knowing where your food comes from, how it is produced and the impact it has, understanding how it affects the environment and community and whether the producer or worker was paid fairly, are all important issues that can be overlooked in pursuit of a vegan or vegetarian diet.

If you want to eat better for the environment, then my suggestion to you is to eat better quality meat and less of it. Eat seasonally. Source your food locally if possible. Always read the labels to see where your fruit and veg is coming from. We need to start thinking more deeply about how our food choices impact the planet.

I respect everyone’s personal choices when it comes to diet and lifestyle but I do find catchy – all movements like ‘veganuary’ – which are so often just skimming the surface of an important topic – counterproductive. For example, replacing well-sourced, regeneratively farmed meat with planet-based alternatives is not helpful if those ingredients are produced in an unsustainable manner.

With every dietary choice we make there will always be an environmental, ecological and community impact, both positive and negative.

Choose to consider the provenance of your food when thinking about making a change to your diet. Choose to buy from small scale, regenerate farms that are investing in their soil, creating habitats and growing/raising their produce responsibly. Choose organic, local, high welfare and seasonal. Choose to invest in food, products and brands that don’t exacerbate deforestation, large scale intensive farming of crops and animals, excessive use of pesticides, chemical fertilisers and antibiotics. Now that really could save the world.

Whether you choose a plant-based diet or not the most positive impact you can have on the environment is to be a considered consumer in the long term.

Sadly, simply swapping out meat for nuts and avocado is worse for the environment than simply choosing to eat well raised animals. I would like to point out that livestock grazing is a vital part of the planet’s carbon cycle and that Britain, with our world-class ability to grow grass, is protecting the environment by sequestering megatons of carbon into our soil each year.

Do you have any idea what the damage that the guacamole on the side of your chicken fajitas is causing?

Food sustainability is a real issue. As a New Year resolution why don’t you spend 2021 becoming better educated about the effects your dietary choices have on the planet. It’s time to feed our brains with knowledge of where our food comes from. Going vegan may not be the best thing to do, however, eating meat that has been factory farmed or flown halfway across the world isn’t the way to go either.

And finally, follow as many farmers on social media as you can, miss out mainstream media and do your own searches. Ask questions. Ask lots of questions.

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