Meaty Impact and Innovations

Lately it seems everyone is talking about meat and the sustainability issues that surround it. So I’m going to join in!

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve wrote about it, earlier this year I tried Veganuary, then for Lent I gave up meat and now I’d class myself as Flexitarian (or whatever new trendy name it’s been given this week). Basically I go days, weeks even without eating meat.

A few nights ago Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped broadcast a special on the innovations that are making meat healthier for us and better for the planet. It’s definitely worth a watch, but if you haven’t got the time, here are some highlights…

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Did you know?

Cows produce more methane than cars, planes and trains combined. They release about 120kg of methane per year. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide (CO2). But the negative effect on the climate of methane is 23 times higher than the effect of CO2. 

33% of cereals grown in the UK are used for meat production.

Most of the world’s soy crop ends up in feed for poultry, pork and cows. The expansion of soy to feed the world’s growing demand for meat contributes to deforestation. 

For 2kg of chicken it takes 4.6kg of feed. For 2kg of pork it takes 6kg of feed. And for 2kg of beef it takes 30kg of feed. That is a lot of crop needed for a small amount of meat!

It takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef but only 1,250 litres for 1kg of wheat.

The innovations for a more ‘sustainable’ meat industry covered were a little bonkers, but it does show that the industry is starting to look at alternative ways in order to protect the planet.

Belgian Super Cows – Apparently these huge muscly cows are bred through natural selection (hmmm) due to an inactive muscle control gene. They produce around 30% more meat than a normal cow and somehow do this through eating the same amount of food as a normal cow.

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Spirulina Algae – Spirulina is an edible microalgae that can be grown in tanks on top of buildings. It’s still new technology but it could be used to replace normal animal feeds freeing up land currently used to grow animal feed to grow human vegetation instead.

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Ostrich Meat – Ostrich’s produce 10 times less methane than cows, they require 3 times less land to graze, can produce 64 tons of meat in a lifetime opposed to a cows 1.72 tons and the water footprint of ostriches is roughly a third of cows.

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If you’re having a BBQ this bank holiday, why not give an ostrich burger a go? Or veggie sausages? My favourite is BBQ’d pineapple. Yum! Whatever you do, have a great long weekend! xxx

My Plastic Free Struggle

Somehow we’re now mid way through the month, and as promised in my previous post here is an update on how my Plastic Free July is going…

Truthfully, it’s not going very well.

I’ve had some successes…

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I’ve been shopping from my local greengrocers and taking reusable bags with me, this massively cuts down on plastic packaging and carrier bags.

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I take my stainless steel One Green Bottle everywhere with me.

I received a Lush delivery with plastic free packaging. Eco-flo chips were used to protect the product, simply run the chips under water and they biodegrade.

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I now buy baked beans in single cans, not multi packs of four which are coated in plastic.

But also some failures…

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I ran the Great North 10k the other week and it was scorching, so I ended up grabbing a plastic bottle from one of the water stations on the way round, drinking it and then tossing it to the ground.

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I’ve been on the road alot this month. Up to Durham, down to Bristol, up to Yorkshire, back to the Midlands… and unless you are very organised it is nearly impossible to not use plastic when stopping at a service station. Even with the best intentions of using my One Green Bottle I struggled to find somewhere to refill.

Dauntingly, round the corner may lie my biggest challenge yet…

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This weekend I am off to a music festival. However I am very determined to try and use as little plastic as possible.

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I will be taking my ‘pimp cup’ and asking the bar staff to serve me my pints in this instead of a disposable plastic cup. I’ve also got myself an Organic Humble toothbrush, which is made from bamboo, to take with me.

Did you know? More than 2 billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill sites every year.

How is your Plastic Free July going?

I’d love to hear about your struggles, and even better, your hints and tips!

What is a Flexitarian?

At the start of the year I took part in Veganuary. Then for Lent I gave up meat.

I enjoyed being veggie so much that I extended my non-meat eating period until a weekend in Berlin where lots of beer weakened my resistance to currywurst (oops). Since then I have only been eating meat on the odd occasion.

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It turns out eating meat ‘on the odd occasion’ is actually a thing. It’s called flexitarianism.

Described as vegetarians with benefits, flexitarians are people whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat. Many vegetarians and vegans consider flexitarianism as cheating, but research shows that the diet just might be one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact and improve health.

Mostly my diet contains no meat but I now allow myself an exception if I really fancy some when I’m eating out or I know that it is good quality.

For example last week I was working in London. On Tuesday evening I had Moroccan food, lots of tasty veggie mezze at Oasis in East Finchley. Then on Wednesday I went to Flat Iron in Soho for one of their famous steaks because I knew it was going to be a) good quality b) ethically sourced from their own herd in Yorkshire and b) absolutely delicious!

Personally I think giving this way of eating a title is abit silly. I can however vouch that having this type of diet certainly comes with benefits.

Benefits of being flexitarian:

  • Less meat = less cost – meaning more money left to spend on good quality meat when you fancy it instead of processed or chemically enhanced
  • Improved health – it’s a win-win as you still get the protein that comes from eating meat occasionally but also have the nutritional benefits from a plant based diet
  • Reduced environmental impact – livestock requires more food, water, land and energy to grow and transport than plants

Next week I’ll post some of my favourite  veggie recipes for you to try. But for now, I’m off work and heading out into the sunshine to kick start my bank holiday weekend with a delicious brekkie from The Farm in Harrogate.

Have a gooden! x

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Asquith – Yoga

I usually do yoga at my local leisure centre and recently they’ve added some extra sessions of piyo and pilates which I can’t wait to get stuck into.

I’ve also started going to an outdoor yoga session which is held at Whistlewood Common (a community-owned area of land in my parent’s town) one Friday a month. Typical UK style – this month’s session was held inside a yurt because of the rain…

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For yoga I used to wear old leggings and a scruffy t-shirt, but since I’m doing it more and I’m getting slightly better at it, I decided to invest in some proper gear and headed to Asquith.  They specify in yoga clothing made from bamboo and organic cotton at a family run factory in Turkey.

Bamboo is a sustainable and environmentally low-impact fabric, it grows faster and absorbs more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees (always a positive!). It is ideal for activewear as it is naturally anti-bacterial and breathable.

All Asquith’s fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified which means they have a low carbon footprint and biodegradable fibres. Their cotton is also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified meaning it is ethically grown, chemical free and responsibly manufactured. It keeps it shape, doesn’t fade, bobble or stretch unlike other activewears.

This morning I wore my new clobber to a Sunday session at the leisure centre. As soon as I put them on they felt much more suitable to yoga than what I was previously wearing. They felt like a second skin, gentle and breathable. I might not yet be able to do ‘floating lizard’, but at least I look the part!

Even if you aren’t a yoga/pilates/piyo goer I’d recommend these clothes for loungewear. Proof – I’ve still got mine on now 4 hours after my session this morning!

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Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

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Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x

Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x

April Book Review

Since getting a Kindle back in February I have managed to worm my way through 9 books. I set myself a challenge on Good Reads to conquer 24 books in 2017. So far I’m not doing too bad.

In April I read 4 books and started a 5th. In this review I would like to talk about 3 of those books.

The Cows

Written by an idol of mine (Dawn O’Porter) and released just last month. It begins with such a poignant opening passage regarding a cow and it’s comparison to a woman’s stereotype, to reproduce and be used solely for milk or beef. A story of three very different women whose lives somehow intertwine around sex, men, struggles, independence, family, the media and babies. This book was emotional, inspiring and entertaining. I give it 5/5.

“COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Don’t follow the herd.”

101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free

Written by Anna Pitt I read this on a train journey to London. It is a great book, set out in a simple format of three parts – a short passage covering the various topics such as waste, water, food and energy – the maths, what savings you can make both in money and helping the planet – the tips, a quirky illustration alongside tips from real people.

Many of the tips covered, if I am honest, are common sense and already how I live my life. However some of the facts around how much we waste in the UK were fascinating and I did find some tips really helpful. I give it 4/5.

“The average UK household uses around 500 litres of water every day and about a third of that water is flushed straight down the toilet!

#GIRLBOSS

Having recently watched the new Netflix series Girlboss all in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon (loved every vintage minute), I did some digging into what the show was based on and found that it surprisingly was originally a book. Written by the creator of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, this book is full of inspiration on how to become #GIRLBOSS.

Sophia tells the tale of how she grew her business from selling vintage on ebay to become a huge successful corporation. What I gathered from the book is that the key to success is to find what you are passionate about, combine that with what you are good at, and work ridiculously hard. This book isn’t supposed to be a feminist book, but from reading it, I’d say it is. I give it 4/5. I also give the Netflix series 4/5 (fabulous clothes and soundtrack).

“I’m telling you that you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both. You are both.”

I hope you’ve found this helpful! Stay posted for my May Book Review…