To begin this section (a 1st post is always quite intimidating), I thought it would be a good idea to tell you how my family and I went from being flexitarians to vegetarians.
Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to contribute to Lovewell blog. It was my first blog post, and in English ! I was (and still am) very proud of it …
Since Lovewell talk about numerous topic such as nutrition and environment, I chose to share with them our first steps toward a more ecofriendly nutrition.
Our first step : becoming flexitarians
"Flexitarianism" : a new word for a new way of life
For many months, before turning vegetarians, we had reduced our meat consumption, both by taste and environmental convictions. We knew we had something to do with what we put in our plates but we couldn’t catch yet how to do it.
One fay’s while reading the press, the word “flexitarian” popped up. I came to realize what we were doing had a name. Besides, we were far from being alone !
What does it do, being flexitarian ?
In 2018, 39% of French people have declared themselves to be flexitarian, vs +5% last year. That trend is still rising which is a great thing both for the public health and Earth.
Flexitarianism only means you still eat a bit of everything. However, you can’t eat meat or fish more than twice a week. This is an efficient way to respect the environment and limit global warming.
Flexitarianism, is it only a buzzword?
In 2018, the Oxford University published in Nature a research establishing a link between our consumption of animal proteins and global warming.
If the global population ate 75% less beef, 90% less pork and 50%less eggs, while tripling consumption of beans and quadrupling nuts’ and seeds’, then it would be possible to contain global warming.
And I am not mentioning here all the studies proving the correlation between excessive meat consumption and some cancers.
So many proofs we need to change our eating habits !
Our first steps as flexitarians
When I wrote that blog post for Lovewell in may 2019, I knew many readers of the blog were vegans ou vegetarians. But my family and I, we weren’t there yet. That’s why I wanted to share our journey with the Lovewell Community.
At the time, I was skeptical of the fact that we could be vegan one day. After all, we are French and cheese, (salted!) butter & pastries are sacred institutions !
But I already had in mind the idea we might (one day!) become vegetarian…
New consumption habits to implement
Obviously, our first step had been to drastically reduce our meat consumption.
This part was indeed quite easy. We didn’t buy meat anymore, leaving it for special occasions like at restaurant. Our son was still eating meat and fish at the school canteen.
As we have a big garden, we extended our vegetable patches. As our hens walk peacefully in the garden, they give us the eggs we need for pastries.
For all the other fruits and vegetables, we try to buy them from local organic producers, respecting the seasonal production.
We’ve tried to adapt our cooking recipes. In some cases, we have completely changed our food habits, using whole wheat ingredients rather than refined.
We also changed the way we shop. A lot of local organic stores with bulk products have just opened. Using mainly paper bags and glass containers, we are now able to limit our wastes too !
And in 6 months time, we've changed from flexitarians to vegetarians !
It was the logical step for kindness
By the end of summer 2019, we had become fully vegetarians. Vegetarian formulas are still not really great at the canteens so our sons still have the option to eat meat or fish at school or daycare.
This transition happened so naturally we didn’t even realize we did it !
Since we didn’t buy any meat nor fish at home, we had to try other recipes and nutritional ways to attend to our daily needs. We’ve discovered plenty of alternatives and new dishes. It was very exciting to try them all during the holidays !
Let's respect the animals !
The less meat or fish we ate, the more aware we were of animal welfare.
In France, we had a few food scandals and cruelty cases that prompted us to react, thanks to L214 association actions.
One day, we were done killing animals to feed us while our bodies didn’t even need it. Our hens’ eggs are enough for us to cook (and we manage when there are less). To insure the animal welfare, we also went plenty organic for dairy products.
Back to good & simple
At the same time, we realized how dangerous processed foods can be for our health so we stopped buying industrial products.
It was also the perfect alternative to stop using plastics and non-recyclable packages, which is an issue we are very concerned about.
A real zero-waste approach !
The surprising challenges we didn't expect
At first, some people’s attitude changed a little.
As flexitarians, we were quite understood since now more than a third of French people are flexitarian too. But being vegetarians seemed to bother them since they are more impacted when we gather for dinner or spend holidays together. They also worry for my husband’s health (he is a massive sportsman) and obviously for the kids. Some have told us it will be a fading fag…
We also discovered how difficult it can be to find vegetarian dishes at restaurants.
On holiday in the UK, I could taste a lot of vegan and delicious veggie meals. I’ve discovered many lovely places to enjoy : pubs, café, restaurants … Back in France, since we don’t live in Paris, it is hard to find some family friendly places to share veggie menus (which aren’t salads!)
Proud to be consistent with our eco friendly choices
The first winter was quite challenging
Since we wanted to reduce our carbon emissions, we wanted to eat mainly local and seasonal products.
In France, vegetables and fruits in winter are not very diverse and we had to be very creative to have a varied choice of dishes (and not only cabbages and potatoes).
Furthermore, the majority of the recipe books I could find used exotic products or out of season. (That famous avocado we can find everywhere). I had to search for some local alternatives. (Marie Chioca was my life-savior even if she is not vegetarian)
Each season carries its challenges
Christmas dinner was quite interesting since we had to find some alternatives to the traditional turkey and foie gras to serve our reluctant family…
It was eventually a complete success and one of our yummiest holiday dinner !
And I’m not even sure my father-in-law realized he didn’t eat meat for the entire week he was at our home…
For this summer we wondered how to make veggie barbecue … The answer came with the purchase of a cast-iron plancha and many marinated vegetables !
Being vegetarian is a very happy family journey
That’s for sure the best part of our decision !
We all feel better to have now this much more balanced way of life. It is healthier and such a more environmental friendly lifestyle !
My oldest son, Mr A, helps us with the vegetable patch. He also takes care of the chickens. Since we don’t have process food anymore, sometimes he helps me cooking his snacks for school.
He is especially proud of the fact we don’t need to kill animals to eat anymore ! I must confess I enjoy it very much as well.
Change is in the air
Thanks to all the media & nonprofit sector’s work, we can see people being more aware of the need to reduce their consumption and be more responsible.
We can see our friends’ habits changing too. (and not because we have changed for new friends!)
This is not unusual anymore to serve vegetarian dishes at a friend’s reunion and it is easier that way !
I’m very proud to see people change their habits and becoming more and more aware of the need to eat less, better and organic, to preserve their health and the Earth.
I know we are still taking baby steps but we are going in the right direction.
And guess what ?
Our journey is not nearly finished ! We are now transitioning to a mainly plant based diet…