We’ve all heard it by now: “Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth”, but still the vast majority of us find it hard to change our diet away from meat.
Meat production (and hence consumption) has been steadily rising the last 50 years and although today we have more and better vegetarian alternatives, a greater understanding of the importance to cut back, as well as the rise of lab-grown meat, we are far from making real change.
The habit of meat
One of the reasons why it is so hard to change away from meat, and this is the same for all habits, is that established patterns are sticky. Changing habits is therefore a major mission, and it takes time and effort.
For more info on the power of habits please check out “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
Another reason is that we simply don’t know where to begin. Most of us are not used to making vegetarian food on a regular basis and so we have few references and experiences, meaning few recipes, for good vegetarian food that also provides the needed nutritional value.
So, we decided to do our little part to help change habits by exchanging one meal per week at work with vegetarian food: Veggie Wednesday. We have just started and we have much more to learn (there are e.g. still too few good vegetarian alternatives in the lunch catering market), but we are doing something - and so should you.
With more and more people caring about vegetarian food, for their individual reasons, I invited two vegetarian employees at Unacast to tell their stories in a mini-interview below. Hopefully they can educate and inspire you to test something like Veggie Wednesday yourself.
- For how long have you been a vegetarian? I’ve been a vegetarian for about 5 years.
- Why did you choose to become a vegetarian? I wanted to do something concrete to help reduce my environmental impact on the planet, and after reading a lot about the meat industry I decided that becoming a vegetarian was a good option.
- How is it to start in a new company when you are vegetarian? I’m always a bit worried that there won’t be any vegetarian options for lunch, company parties etc.
- What should companies do to be a better fit for vegetarians? Make sure to have a lunch option for vegetarians, and also provide vegetarian food at parties. There might also be others at the workplace who prefer to eat less meat without being vegetarians.
- Any tips for people that want to try a vegetarian diet? What to think of? Where to start? Where to find recipes? I think it’s a good idea to start with good vegetarian dishes, and not just remove the meat or use meat-substitutes in what you are used to eating. I found it very useful to buy some good cookbooks with only vegetarian recipes, so you have a lot to choose from. Most big food-blogs also have a section with good vegetarian options, and there’s lots of vegan and vegetarian food-blogs as well.
- For how long have you been a vegetarian? Since birth
- Why did you choose to become a vegetarian? I was raised that way and it has been part of my culture, habits since 25 years. When I had a culture-shift here in Norway I had two options, to adopt a newer food with meat lifestyle or hold on to my vegetarian roots. I chose latter as I was more aware now about meat industry and cost on the nature to produce meat vs grains/vegetables. Though it has been easier on me, to adopt a sustainable lifestyle just by not changing my existing one - it is still harder on me to go total Vegan
- How is it to start in a new company when you are vegetarian? In my very first call with my manager I had to hesitatingly ask -Do we have vegetarian food for lunch. But few days in, I learnt that the eco-system at Unacast was trying to be as supportive as possible to have Veggie food on lunch table.
- What should companies do to be a better fit for vegetarians? It is difficult to get a caterer who gives good Vegetarian/Vegan food and we are still in process to hit the right spot where we get good food from one caterer with both vegan and meat options. Stocking fridge with vegan food and Vegetarians themselves proactively help company get vegan food is way to go
- Any tips for people that want to try a vegetarian diet? What to think of? Where to start? Where to find recipes? Going vegan doesn’t have to limit til meat substitutes or just salads. It is easier to love vegan food if we get a taste of different cuisines which are based on Vegan/vegetarianism. Many people ask me where do I get my protein when they learn I am vegetarian - Lentils, pulses and beans is the way to go. Moving to a new vegan vegetarian food doesn’t mean we don’t treat ourselves with all the nutrition we want. Choose a good tropical cuisine where they have already cracked veganism - why reinvent wheel - try from Indian/Middle-Eastern/Greek/Italian/Ethiopian/Mexican recipes. One advantage of going vegetarian is it will also help move away from processed food, i.e. if you choose to. When going to grill party or hytte tur, soya based burgers, pølses can be handy which are available in Grocery retailers. Going vegan, doesn’t have to mean 100% sustainability unless we make such purchasing choices - eating organically produced food, trying to buy eggs from free-roaming chickens, making sure to use less plastic to store these foods can be some of those tiny lifestyle changes that can make differences.