A matter of survival ?— going cold turkey on meat and dairy

Last night my husband and I were watching the island with Bear Grylls, the celebrity edition for Stand up for Cancer. We’re not big on that type of reality TV usually but it seemed to get my husband thinking, he was quiet for a while then turned to me and said “If we were on an island like that I would eat meat, I would hunt and eat the meat… because in that circumstance it’s a matter of survival. In the world we’re in now we don’t need to eat those things, we have more choices.” There was nothing I could say at the time but to agree. Today his statement has stuck with me. It’s occurred to me that the concepts of survival and not eating meat and dairy are very much entwined.

Consider first that I’m a morbidly obese woman. The very word morbidly means the causing of disease, implies unhealthiness and intuits the inevitability of an untimely death. In the three days since I cut out meat and dairy (as well as fish and eggs) and for the first time in possibly years, I’ve lost weight. Only 2 or 3lb’s. But gone nonetheless! I’m perfectly aware that there are many human-beings eating meat and dairy every day who are perfectly healthy; perhaps they exercise more and my obesity can be put down to my being ‘morbidly’ lazy or maybe they have genetically superior metabolisms? All I know is that for me a beneficial side thought, which is getting me through these first days of diet change, is that loosing weight will help me to be healthier, and, just maybe, to survive for longer.

On the other hand, a little further away from home and less visible in our day to day lives, are the people in countries where land is sold for the purpose of growing feed for livestock. Food which is not put out for human consumption and does not support the inhabitants of that land. Food which is fed to food which a vast number of people cannot then afford. If all agricultural land were used to produce vegetables and grains for human consumption, rather than for livestock or for the feeding of said livestock, then we could feed humans across the world, and what’s more less land would actually be required to do so. More land could be returned to wildness and habitats for wild animals. Less hunger, more sustainability. Surely this can also be considered a matter of survival.

I’m aware that this post is verging on preachy. We all know these things and not everyone wants to change their diets to support it. On the few occasions today when the subject of my diet change came up people responded with comments like, “rather you than me!” and “good on you but I could never do that… I like omelettes too much”. It struck me several times that I could hear my own voice coming out of their mouths — this would have been my response just last week if someone had told me they were changing their diet in such a fashion. I can’t judge them because I’m failing to explain properly my reasons, I can’t make them understand, and at any rate I’m not in the business of changing other peoples opinions.

So can cutting out meat (including fish), diary and eggs be a matter of economical, societal, environmental and (at least in my case) personal survival? Even if we would eat meat should we find ourselves stranded and starving on a jungle island at the will of a man called Bear.

Tonight's eats: Grilled aubergine and lentil paella

I had planned on cooking up some grilled aubergine then tossing it in an asian style sauce to eat with noodles but upon inspection of my cupboard the only noodles to be found were egg noodles! Despair! I rooted around for an alternative but all I could find was an old bag of almost empty paella and some red lentils.

Grilled aubergine and lentil paella

I sauteed a chopped onion and two chopped cloves of garlic with some olive oil in a pan. Once they were soft I crumbled in a vegetable stock cube and some coriander seeds. In went the 125g of paella rice and about the same amount of red lentils. After they were stirred in to the onion mixture I added about double the amount that was in the pan of boiled water.

Then I grilled chunks of aubergine, yellow pepper and courgette on a low heat. Turning them after about 10 minutes. After almost 25 minutes in total it was ready. All I had to do was add the grilled veg to the paella along with 100g of halved cherry tomatoes and, once on the plate, sprinkle a taste of paprika across the top.

Just what I needed after a long hungry day at work. Quite stodgy but heck it’s been a cold day and the little pops of occasional coriander seeds are delicious!