Based my assessment, I could tell whether a client was following a sustainable vegetarian or vegan diet, or if they should consider adding a few servings of meat, poultry, fish, or eggs to their meal plan. Some clients appreciated this advice, while others decided not to work with me because my recommendations did not align with their values. And it's all ok.
So - 'plant based' could mean a diet composed entirely of plants or it could mean that you consume animal protein perhaps only at dinner.
When I explained it to people this way, they realize that they could eat say, five to seven servings of meat per week, and they would be eating mostly plants. Done.
The next thing we discuss is the number of servings per week each of meat, poultry, and fish. Can they try to limit the amount of unhealthy saturated fat they are consuming by having beef once a week? Can they add fish or seafood maybe three times a week? How about chicken or turkey once or twice a week?
Finally we talk about where they are buying their meat and thinking about how the animal was cared for throughout it's lifetime. The answers to these questions will be reflected in the quality as well as how healthy the products are for consumption.
When you ask your shopkeeper about the questions below, do they know the answers? If not, can they provide you with the contact information for the farm(s) they source their products from? If you are not able to get the answers you need, perhaps you might consider finding a new place to buy your groceries…
- Are the animals able to roam around freely or are they confined to stalls in barns or small, crowded outdoor spaces with too many other animals?
- Can they lie down to sleep if they choose?
- Are they able to maintain relationships with their young?
We can go yet another step with this discussion too! Think about what you eat, eats! It's important to understand whether the animals you are eating have enjoyed organic grasses throughout their lives or whether they've been force fed genetically modified alfalfa or corn to be fattened before sale ... We really don't want to be consuming concentrated levels of unhealthy chemicals in our food!
Many smaller farmers invite the public to tour their facilities. I've wandered through small pig farms, larger cattle ranches, and tiny fish hatcheries. I've talked with farmers about feed, daily routines, and slaughter house processes. These farmers truly care about the welfare of the animals they are raising. After all, they are feeding their families too!
As you climb down the rabbit hole of responsible purchase and consumption decisions, you'll realize that you are able to buy high quality meat, poultry, fish and seafood sourced from animals who, to the greatest extent possible, were able to enjoy their natural environments and experience only one bad day.
Remember- it's our OWN choice: we can decide to eat animal products, we can sometimes eat animal products, or we can avoid animal products too. Make the choice that right for you.