It’s Earth Day people!!! And if you hadn’t noticed: Earth is in trouble, and it’s where we all live.
Biodiversity has decreased by up to 60% in the last 50 years* whilst the average global temperature is rising year on year and the sea quite literally rises around us. Babies are being born with microplastics in their bodies** and in my home of England’s green and pleasant land there is not a single pollution free river***. Not a one. It’s fair to say that things are so bad that humanity is probably past the point of being able to reverse the damage done, which makes it easy to say What can I do about it? I’m just a single person. Well that attitude sucks, and so do you if you chose to hide behind it. The only way you can do something to help, is to do something to begin with. Get your head out of the bloody sand and be the change you want to see.
There’s no such thing as suggesting ‘enough said’ on this subject but for now I’ll drop the rhetoric and give you the official Boomboom Top 5 Tips to Eating For Your Planet. Just to clarify, this is how your grub related decisions can chip in to the effort to keep the planet habitable for another couple of million years, not an intergalactic eating contest. OK, so here we go!
1- Drop The Animal Produce. We’ll get to the big plant based elephant in the room first. National Treasure, Fantasy God Parent and out and out expert on the natural world David Attenborough put it simply as “The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. If we all ate only plants, we’d need only half the land we use at the moment.“****.
We can’t go on like this. We’re running out of space, soil nutrients and pollinators by the second due to mass global farming. But the entire world going vegan overnight is likely not possible, practical or in many ways desirable either. You can cut back on the amount of animal produce you consume though, thereby reducing the general demand for it. Oh, yes you can and you know you can and you know you should, so cut the shit, Brenda and try an oatmilk latte this weekend.
It’s not all about tofu and kale smoothies you know. Plenty of the meat and dairy alternatives out there are filthy-dirty-delicious. Chips are plant based, you know! To get you started, I’m particularly fond of VFC and their divine faux chicken products. Co Op Gro incrediburgers live up to the (terrible) naming and their gianduja chocolate bar is gloriously rich and squishy and only a quid at the time of writing.
As well as supporting the planet there is also the chance that a reduction in animal related consumption will do your own immediate home, i.e. your body, some good too. Processed meat can be chock full of all kinds of fats, salts and fillers that are pure junk for your digestive system and believed to contribute to obesity, heart disease and the Big C. And they are also kind of crappy. I hold my hands up to my own hypocrisy in terms of plant based diets because I do still really enjoy a bbq and the odd plate of fish and chips. But if you’re going to do it, do it right with welfare bred, free range and organic meat, dairy and eggs and line caught sustainable fish. Yes, it does cost more, but if you’re only eating it once in a while then there is balance to be had here. If something has died for your dinner, make it worth it.
And if you can’t join in and cut down, just shut up, man. Yeah, you who bangs on about how eating six sausages and an entire black pudding every morning saw your old Gammer live to 104 and rabbits only have a life expectancy of 10 years. You who likes to tag Greta Thunberg in Insta posts of your Wetherspoons Mixed Grill. You with all the fascinating observations about brain evolution and canine teeth. Just shut up, you’re embarrassing yourself and boring the rest of us. Oh, unless it’s that joke again about how you love bacon so much you’d eat a badly sunburned pig given half a chance because that one is hilarious. Really.
2- Stop Wasting Food. Why the hell would you waste food?!?!?! Food costs money, it costs natural resources, it has a significant carbon footprint and it’s food. It is the fuel for your actual, ridiculous little human life. It’s precious, and you need to treat it as such so stop squandering it and try some of these easy fixes:
- Buy frozen fruit and veg, it’s cheaper and just as nutritious as fresh and being safe in your freezer means that it wont go black and slimy in your salad drawer when you feel the need to dial out for dirty fries four nights in a row.
- Freeze fresh veg- if you score a bumper deal or just don’t get around to using some ingredients then get them on ice, pronto. Chilli peppers can go in the freezer whole and are easier to chop from frozen without the risk of a stray spurt of fire juice in the eye. You can slice your citrus and freeze it so it’s ready to go straight in a punchbowl/highball of your choice rather than going slowly blue and powdery in the nice ornamental bowl on the dining table.
- Grow your own. It might be cress or herbs on the windowsill, lettuces or fruit in the garden. When food is growing, it’s not spoiling and so much food is at it’s best when you go from harvest to plate in however long it takes you to find the big scissors. Pick just enough, just when you need it and eat it straight away.
- Redistribute your scraps and spoils and if you’re lucky enough to have some outside space of your own get composting. Apples that are just past their best are very much enjoyed by birds in your garden who may well help themselves to dessert, AKA slugs and snails that would otherwise be attacking those lettuces we were just talking about. Bruised or brown bananas make the best cakes and baked oats and the like. Used compostable coffee pods double up as a great cat deterrent if strategically placed in high poo risk zones outside and there are all manner of wonderful high fibre snacks to be made from root veg peel if you’re an Air Fryer type.
3- Hit Em Where It Hurts. By which I mean straight in the profits. Stop shopping with irresponsible companies and stop buying products which don’t at least attempt to contribute to sustainability. Morrisons is the only supermarket in my local area where I can buy loose veg in brown paper bags, rather cruddy single use plastic bags. So that’s where I do the weekly shop. And that’s that. Clubcards and German discount brothers can suck it.
Better still, find ways to invest your cold hard cash into the companies who are putting sustainability first. Check out Discarded Spirits, making some fine boozy delights from food waste- the banana skin rum is to die for. Or switch to garden compostable coffee pods like Grind or Eden Project. Invest in a bamboo lunchbox and glass storage containers for the kitchen when the time comes to replace the tupperware. Don’t buy in to single use anything.
4- Educate Yourself. It’s been a long time since you could get away with ‘but I don’t know how’ as an excuse since the invention of the internet. So don’t just take my word for it- spend some time investing in your own brain and give yourself the sexy modern luxury of making informed decisions.
If you want to make practical changes in your own kitchenry check out Restore by Gizzi Erskine or any of the Bosh! cookery books to cook and eat more sustainably and utterly deliciously in an instant.
Clue yourself up on what is going on in the world. Google what palm oil farming has done to the Orangutan population. If you can’t take the sadness then balance the existential upset with some wow factor from the Wild Isles or Blue Planet documentaries on BBC iPlayer or keep it humorous with the Skinny Bitch diet. If you like a bit of dark in your fiction try Tender Is the Flesh for a brilliant (and short!) modern horror tale which puts a skin crawling spin on humanity’s obsession for meaty heavy diets. You wont ever think about factory farming in the same way ever again.
And if you are thinking of dipping a toe in any kind of sustainable change to your kitchen habits- read some reviews so you know what to dodge! Don’t just wing it and end up suffering/giving up before you’ve really started.
5- Tell Your Friends. And your colleagues. And your Mum and her mates and just be visible. Teach your kids how to grow seeds and how to love veggies and help them to understand that without bees we literally are all going to die (maybe sugar that up a bit for the younger ones). Drag your mates out to visit local producers and buy their stuff more often than you opt for beer/meat/wine that travels hundreds of miles to get to you. Share veggie kebab recipes with anyone who will listen and don’t be afraid to ask questions- flat out refuse to buy in when answers aren’t made available to you. If a restaurant doesn’t know about the welfare standards of their sirloin or if the seabeds were irreparably dredged to supply their seafood linguine special then don’t order it and tell them why. If a product doesn’t boast recyclable packaging, ethical palm oil, free range creatures or whatever key cause you want to take on then ask them why not and ask them loudly and frequently, ideally on their social media.
You really can help, and if you don’t we really are doomed.
That’s enough from me, so Happy Earth Day, turn off your lights for a bit and tell me in the comments what you’re doing to Eat for The Planet today. And tomorrow. And on Monday. And then on Tuesday too. You get the idea.
If you want to bitch at me about the facts, see the below reference links and fight with these pages instead. I really don’t care if you think climate change isn’t real or that cow farts are somehow good for anyone.
* Biodiversity decline
** Microplastics in placenta
*** England’s rivers