Reading an article in the Guardian after the horsemeat scandal broke made me consider my diet to a greater degree than I normally do. It seems as if our greed when it comes to meat and meat products had almost caused the horsemeat scandal. The economic climate has seen most of us seeking a reduction in costs – yet food prices seem to rise with the change in climate from a weather perspective. I personally know dairy and cattle farmers who have suffered greatly over the past couple of years with the rising costs of animal feeds, and arable farmers who are at the mercy of the weather too…often losing entire crops. The farmer I buy my hay from has had to put his prices up to £4.50 per bale, when two years ago it was £3 a bale…poor weather has pushed it up. Any of you who watched ‘Countryfile’ tonight will have seen the disastrous results of a winter crop, due to the prolonged wet weather; over 100 acres ruined on one farm alone.
So if neither climate – financial or weather – is helping us consumers, was it really any wonder that a cheap and unregulated source of animal meat ended up in our products? I am not condoning it at all, but I am just wondering what could be done to help. Am I being selfish in thinking just of the financial cost of my food – should I give more consideration to the environmental costs too? The rise in intensive animal farming leads to an increased need to feed these animals, which leads to an increase in grain production, which leads to an increase in the use of chemicals to encourage quicker and supposedly more efficient crop growth. When you start thinking about these things, it makes you wonder what the alternatives are.
I remember watching Jamie Oliver trying to convince people that organic products were best. He was arguing with one lady about the fact that an organic chicken is a better buy than the ‘2 for £5 deals’ that you can find in supermarkets…even though one organic chicken cost more than the price of two ‘normal’ ones. He put forward a good argument and so did she. He showed how chickens are farmed, and encouraged people to grow their own veggies and rear their own chickens for eggs, and was most put out when this lady continued to buy the chicken on offer. With a large family to feed, she simply couldn’t afford to buy organic. I sat there watching and sided with Jamie. How could she – after seeing the plight of a chicken – not want to buy organic? But it was okay for me, I was earning over £45k at the time, and my other half was working, and so money wasn’t a concern. Now that the shoe is on the other foot as it were, I can totally see her point. Since taking this career break to improve my health, we have had to make significant cut backs. Yes, we still buy organic eggs – we get them from a farmer, poo and straw still stuck to them! But it is very rare that we buy organic food now.
It isn’t that we don’t want to, or that we condone intensive farming practices – our decisions now are far more cost-based than they were previously. So what is the alternative? From a weight loss perspective, it seems quite simple – eat a bit less. But you still need to eat enough, so bulk up your meat with veggies and lentils and beans. If you want to buy organic, then buy organic but use half the amount of meat – same for non-organic meat. Instead of a whole pack of mince in your bolognese, use half a pack (freeze the rest) and tip in a tin of mixed beans, or a few handfuls of lentils. You honestly don’t miss the extra meat!
‘Demitarian’ was a term used in the article and I found it quite twee, or corny, at first. I think it is quite a nice term and could be given to someone who choses to use less meat, having smaller but perhaps better quality portions – taste over quantity. Becoming a ‘demitarian’ will not only save your money, but could perhaps bring health benefits having from increasing the fibre in your meals and reducing the saturated fats found in certain meats. It would also make a contribution – albeit a small one if only a few follow suit – to the reduction of demand for meat. This reduction could lead to increased availability and a reduction in price – who knows? I am focused on shifting this weight and feel quite strongly that a reduction in the consumption of meat will help me. I am not going to replaced it with refined carbs – which won’t help weight loss – but instead fruits, veggies, lentils, beans etc – which do help! These tends to be lower in calorie and fill you up well too.
So that’s my challenge for this fortnight folks – not for you to become a demitarian – but to try out some veggie meals. On Slimming World this would included ‘Green day’ meals, but anyone can try a gorgeous butternut squash curry, or a lentil dhal. I made a gorgeous lentil and tomato soup recently too. And I even made ‘pizzas’ using huge field mushrooms as a base. I am going to try some new veggie recipes over the next couple of weeks, and I would love to hear from any of you confirmed meat eaters about new veggie dishes you try too. I will of course post pics of my meals in the blog and will detail – as well as I can – any new recipes I try. And if you send me pics and your recipes, I will dedicate a special blog post to you all!
Let’s take a look at the usuals…
My Dad kindly offered to pick us up and take us to the horses this morning. He works really long hours and I knew he didn’t want to hang around though – so it was a quick one! I topped up the field troughs and put the horses out whilst my other half mucked out. I then filled up the water in the stables and took down haynets – which doesn’t sound much, but meant I was standing for fifteen minutes. I am trying to build up my stamina and muscles and this sort of thing really helps – and my back didn’t go numb either! My Dad mentioned they were popping to Asda after dropping us off, so I got him to change that and asked if we could go and be dropped off afterwards, which meant we could get the supplies for today. So we did this and then headed home. After lunch we knew we had to tackle the housework. Neither of us are particularly driven by housework – I do like a nice clean house, and am generally quite good if I am on my own – for example when my other half heads to America with work, the house stays nice and tidy. But once it starts to get messy I get a ‘can’t be arsed’ head on and so we often have mammoth cleaning sessions to deal with the mess. And as I have a hairdresser coming round tomorrow, I thought it best to have a spruce! So I also helped with that and am now enjoying the benefits of a clutter free lounge and kitchen. I have a pile of books at the side of my chair to read – so will start another today I think, whilst psyching myself up to get back on the treadmill this coming week. Even if I can do five minutes I will be happy. Oh – I am on the lookout for an old Rebok Step – the big black and grey ones – so if any of you know anyone with one that doesn’t use it, point them in my direction. I am not going to bugger my knees up doing Step at the moment, but need it for my BodyPump sessions as one section requires a raised platform for tricep work and I used to use a Step…I find them quite wide and sturdy, so good enough for my substantial rear! There is nothing on TV tonight that I fancy watching – other than ‘Person of Interest’ – and as I am now all caught up with ‘Plebs’ I think it will be a reading evening too.
Breakfast: Porridge, scan bran and almond milk (7.5 syns) with a banana.
Let’s start with brekkie then. I have only counted my porridge combo as 7.5 syns today – instead of the normal 9.5 syns – as the HEB bread I used was underweight…so I have topped up my fibre with the two scan bran…if that makes any sense at all? You are allowed to split your HEs – so if it says two Babybels and 400ml of milk for example, you could have one Babybel and 200ml of milk. Same for things like two Alpen Lights and two slice of wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf – you could have one Alpen Light and one slice of bread. So this is why I topped my HEB up with the scan bran, to ensure that I had enough fibre – which is the point of the HEB choices. Anyway, now that that convoluted explanation is over, I would like to try and explain quite how delicious my lunch was, despite my other half screwing his nose up at my choice! Sardines on toast – mixed with onion, topped with spinach and cheese – it is seriously nice and a great way of getting an oily fish portion in too. Dinner was also lovely – and there are leftovers for tomorrow. I usually use chicken, but fancied some mood-boosting turkey instead. So lean chunks of turkey thigh were browned, then chopped onions, celery, green pepper, tomatoes, mushroom and spinach were added, with a bunch of coriander, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, turmeric, cumin, and a bit of fat free fromage frais stirred through – you can serve it with rice, but I prefer it on it’s own and so opted for an Original day. Right near my syn limit for the day, but I feel as if I am making healthier choices with them, so am happy with this.
Exercise: Was more active at the stables this morning – filling field troughs, water buckets and clearing haynets away etc. Nothing major, but it was nice to make a contribution there today! I also helped clean the house…which worked up a sweat too!
Enjoy the veggies 😉
Weight Loss Bitch xxx