The concept of being a vegetarian used to be straight forward. Eat everything but meat. Simple.
But today, there’s about 101 variations of the diet - and it has become a little confusing.
From the ones who only eat fish (pescetarian), or those who eat dairy but no meat (lacto ovo) - more and more people are having a crack at cutting animal products from their every day. And I’m one of them.
About 2 years ago, I fell into the grey area of being a “sometimes” vegetarian - better known as the fauxgetarian.
While I love my meat, and don’t even get me started on cheese, I saw a problem with consuming animal based products during every meal. I attempted the Vegan diet once with dismal results.
From wastage, personal health problems, and personal concerns about how cattle and poultry were being farmed after watching several hard hitting documentaries - I decided to cut down on my meat and fish consumption.
Basically, I altered my diet so that 80% of my week was made up of plant based products. The other 20% meant I could enjoy a piece of organic steak, free range organic chicken or ethically caught fish.
As a fauxgetarian, meat was no longer a daily dose of protein - it became a celebration.
For the 3 times a week I allowed myself a home made chicken schnitzel or a pulled-pork slider, every mouthful was recognised and savoured. The diet not only changed my view on food, it changed my appreciation as well.
I guess I’ve always been a bit of a fauxgetarian. When I was younger, I wouldn't eat any food that came on a bone as it would make my stomach turn.
I loved chicken nuggets and meatballs, because I couldn’t tell where they’d actually come from. But pork and bacon? I don’t think so. Who’d be ok with eating ‘Babe’?
But over time, I slowly began to introduce more and more meat into my diet. And living with a Greek, meant that every easter I was forced (hardly) to savour a lamb on the spit. It was love at first bite, and before I knew it - I’d become a hardcore carnivore!
But after doing some hard ground work in the realm of organic produce and living sustainably whilst researching items to sell in my online ethical retail store Socielle, I began to think hard about the real consequence my meat eating addiction was having on the world – and it was not a good one.
Now, you’re probably wondering why someone would cut down on something they love so much. Well, the theory behind the diet (or lifestyle rather) is that if the world switched back to having meat as a ‘sometimes food’, your health, wellbeing and even global pollution would change in a positive way.
The more I subscribed to sites like Peta and Animals Australia, the more concerned I became about the idea of eating meat, eggs and dairy. According to a report by the Worldwatch institute, 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to livestock and their by-products across the globe.
The recent obsession with the Paleo diet could also be a hindrance to our planet. For those of you who haven’t been swept up by the diet celebrity chef Pete Evans advocates on a daily basis - here’s a crash course. The Paleo diet is heavily meat based, and therefore can see consumption increase significantly. Typically, someone on this diet will have protein at least 2-3 times per day.
With Australia having some of the biggest number of meat and seafood lovers in the world, could this be the reason why we're now the globe's largest animal product consumers according to the OECD? The UN report indicated that from 2015, we are consuming a whopping 90kg of meat per person every year.
Now I am sure that our (paleo) ancestors weren’t slaughtering animals anywhere near as much as we are today. As hunters and gatherers they made up their diet with a much better balance of plant to meat based ratios, and really celebrated the times they were able to eat meat after a successful day of hunting. As for waste, they consumed the carcass from head to toe.
The popularity of veganism has boomed in Australia, meaning substitute products to help those of us who just "can't give up" meat products is more accessible than ever before. From nut milks, flax meal, tofu, mushroom mince and even cashew cheese, we’re living in a world where we almost don't have any excuse NOT to be vegan or vegetarian.
As a fauxgetarian, I may sound like a hypocrite. But by filtering meat occasionally into my diet, I'm getting the best of both worlds - without missing out on the meals I love.
Campaigns like ‘Meat-Free Monday’ have been a positive step in taking a realistic approach on reducing meat consumption. By having one day off animal products, people are having a positive impact on saving the planet and stopping cruelty to animals at the same time.
What we need is a change of mindset, back to the times when our ancestors would celebrate with a feast of a beast; eating it head to tail and ensuring nothing is wasted.
Instead of eating meat every day, it’s time to cut back and minimise our waste. Treat meat like it is something victorious that should be savoured. Imagine a world where we could cut down on livestock pollution by up to 50% just by limiting our consumption to 3 or 4 meals a week.
But being a fauxgetarian should be a way of life extending beyond your diet into all that you do. I buy vegan cosmetics, plant based products, avoid leather based items wherever possible and wouldn’t even consider a fur vest.
I know I will cast a divide amongst most of you, because we all know the mere mention of ‘vegetarian’ or ‘animal cruelty’ causes an eye roll. But by implementing a ‘fauxgetarian’ diet - it’s a start into making the world a better place. You don’t need to miss out - just minimise.
For more details on becoming a ‘fauxgetarian’, sample recipes and a meal planner - visit www.fauxgetarian.com.
To shop a range of ethical and earth friendly items visit www.socielle.co.
Words: Rechelle Coombes