We are bombarded with information telling us what is bad for the environment, things we 'have' to do and others we should 'never' do. Stray from these rules and the world will probably burst into flames right in front of our eyes!
Having felt this pressure, I decided to turn to veganism, thinking this would be the most environmentally friendly way to eat. However, I have since found that it is not that simple – nothing ever is. There will never be a one size fits all diet that that will cure climate change globally. Being a planetarian is all about eating while having minimal impact on global warming and biodiversity loss. I’m not saying it’s easy, especially as we currently live in a world that faces so many environmental issues, trying to minimise our impact on all feels practically impossible.
Right, I now want you to bring yourself back a couple of centuries. You’ve just finished up being a cave man/woman, moving around to have access to food and you’ve now started up your own little subsistence farm. You are growing all your own fruit and veg, you have a couple of chickens and maybe a cow if you were in the UK, probably a goat/sheep if you were in the south of France.
The fruit and veg that you eat will obviously change throughout the year as the seasons change. You will get eggs from your chickens and milk from your cow or goat. Meat wise, if your chickens have one too many chicks so you could treat yourself to a rotisserie chicken every couple of months and beef, you would either have at the end of your cow’s life or if a bull pops by and a bit of hanky panky goes on, you could eat the calf. This is a very simplified view of what subsistence farming was, but this is what I’d like you to bear in mind when you are buying food now.
Things to think about when buying food:
Are the fruits and vegetables that I am buying grown locally and are they seasonal?
Does your neighbour have chickens? Do they have eggs to spare that you could eat? Or maybe you can buy some from honesty boxes about the place in the countryside?
How far away is my nearest dairy farm? How industrial is it? Are they organic and what are the cows fed?
Do I live close to where this fish was caught? Was bottom trawling involved? Were any dolphins killed? Is this fish sustainable?
Do I need meat every day? Once a week? Once a month? Or maybe just Christmas day? Is this meat local? Is this beef grass-fed and living in pasture? Has this lamb been shipped all the way from New Zealand? Do I even know where this meat has come from?
I know this seems overwhelming but a good way to think about it, is would this have been available to me 100 years ago? How would it fit in to my little imaginary subsistence farm?
Being a planetarian is more a concept than a set list of rules that everyone needs to follow. Veg will be seasonal at different times in different countries for example. If you live by the sea, maybe have a little rowing boat, you may catch a lot of fish and therefore eat a lot of fish. Living in a city, you are unlikely to have chickens, therefore you could venture out to find your closest farmers market, and ask the stall holder where the eggs are from, and if they are free range and organic.
So I am here to encourage you to do exactly what I am currently trying to do – EXPLORE! Avoid the supermarket for a bit and find out what is around you, who are your local food producers, what actually is that sign that you always drive past? And ask people where their products are from, how they made them and if anything it could get them thinking as well, are they being as environmentally friendly as they can?