Can you resist meat for a month? Meat Free May

11th May 2015
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Our current diets are harming our health and our planet. How our food gets to our tables is almost unrecognisable from 50 years ago. While people in some parts of the world do not have enough to eat, others suffer from obesity, and our current diets are causing massive  environmental damage.

Meat production is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases emissions, and overfishing has led to 70% of fish stocks being declared ‘fully exploited’ or ‘totally exploited’.

Meat Free May - Can you resist meat for a month (smaller)The global food system is broken, and something needs to change. By eating less meat and fish, and trying to eat meat and fish that is more sustainably sourced (local, organic, etc.) we can make a difference to both the planet and our own health, while still enjoying the food we love.

But how do you start to eat more sustainably? What can you cook? And how do you make sure that you are getting the right nutrients? We hope that after you have completed Meat Free May, you will have a whole bunch of new recipes to start mixing into your weekly shop, giving you the confidence to jump into your new, lower impact diet.

Tell me more.

Want to know more about eating better for yourself and the planet? Here are a few links to get you started:

* We have lots of info on healthy planet eating on our What to eat webpage.

* Flexitarian: the environmentally friendly diet is our briefing on less and better meat diets.

* Eating Better is a group of organisations working to promote fair, healthy and green diets.

* The eat seasonably website has information on what you can eat and grow through the year.

* Meat Free Monday is a great site for those wanting to subtly introduce meat free options at home. Discover recipes, wines and vegetarian restaurants.

Nutrition

Eating a healthy balanced diet is always important, and if you are cutting out meat and fish for the first time, you need to make sure that you are still getting the right mix of nutrients, especially iron and protein. The NHS has some brilliant advice on healthy meat-free diets, as does the Vegetarian Society.

What’s off the menu

Meat and fish products can turn up in products that you probably wouldn’t expect. While we don’t want you to worry too much about some of the more obscure things that contain animal products, Meat Free May is a good chance to learn more about what’s goes into your favourite food and drink.

* Eating:  Watch out for animal derived ingredients like gelatine or rennet. They can pop up in everything from sweets like gummy bears to certain cheeses like Parmesan. The Vegetarian Society is a good starting point for finding out more about what goes into your food.

* Drinking: It can be surprising to find out that not all alcoholic drinks are meat-free. Animal products are sometimes used in the refining process, meaning that your wine and beer might not be Meat Free May friendly. But don’t despair! There are lots of vegetarian and vegan friendly wines and beers out there, like in the brilliant range at Vinceremos

What if I accidentally eat meat or fish!

Don’t worry! Sticking a note on the fridge or telling your friends and family so they can support will help you to remember, but don’t beat yourself up if you slip up.

I don’t normally eat meat or fish – can I still get involved?

Absolutely. A lot of people adapt Meat Free May to challenge their current diets, like pescetarians who are cutting out fish for the month. You can also encourage your friends and family to take part in Meat Free May, or make a donation to Friends of the Earth to support our campaigns.

Competition time

Meat free may dishWe’ve teamed up with our fabulous friends at Hardie Grant Books to give you the chance to win a  copy of Kenkō Kitchen cookbook and New Feast.

Send us the pics of your mouth – watering Meat Free May meals, and the tastiest 3 snaps will win the cookbooks.

Share them on social media with #MeatFreeMay, or email them to fran.graham@foe.co.uk

In need of some inspiration? Take a look at the winners from last year – Cooking up a treat: winning photos from Meat Free May.

For more details, recipes and fundraising suggestions download the Meat Free May Support Pack.

Meat Free May in and around Manchester

Manchester Friends of the Earth supporters will be taking part in Meat Free May and will be adding recipes and reports of their experiences throughout May.  Updates on the website and also on the Use Your Loaf and Fix the Food Chain Facebook pages.

If you would like more information on the Manchester Friends of the Earth Food campaign group please contact Rachel at  rachel@manchesterfoe.org.uk