Thought I’d right my New Years resolutions here to make me more accountable…
1. Commit to being a Flexitarian
I’m going to only eat meat twice a week. I’m going to eat locally. I’m going to eat seasonally. I’m going to eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy that have been raised ethically. Quality over quantity.
My primary reasons for this are environmental. It is unsustainable for the world’s growing population to expect to eat meat every day for every meal. The way meat is being intensively produced to meet such a huge demand is inhumane and puts an enormous pressure on the environment. The contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by this industry is a significant amount not taking into consideration the precious use of land and resources and the production of pollution. A lot of food is imported too, by having a larger focus on local and seasonal foods the carbon footprint for each food is a lot lower. As I am currently in South East Asia I am eating as much tropical fruit as I can which I know I won’t be able to get at home in the UK.
It is not sustainable to cut/burn down huge swathes of forest to farm cattle. Instead of there being a huge carbon sink which promotes a healthy balanced ecosystem, there is an intensive mono culture of cattle producing methane. If you think back to energy food chains too, it doesn’t make sense to eat so much meat. A lot of energy is lost between plants and the humans via the cow/pig/chicken. So it is more energy efficient to eat straight from the source as it were. This way you can support more people from the same plot of land if it were used for plants rather than animals.
Although this website focuses on Australia, the information can be applied to a lot of other western countries. https://sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/The-environmental-impacts-of-eating-meat/tabid/105/Default.aspx
My secondary reasons are money and health. I’d rather eat better quality, locally sourced meat once a week than battery farmed, heavily processed imported meat every day. Decreasing meat consumption will increase plant consumption which can only be a good thing for health. Meat also costs more money so cutting down on it means I can save money. This is especially prominent when travelling as vegetarian food is consistently cheaper than eating meat or fish.
With the recent global summit on Climate Change where world leaders agreed there is a world wide problem I think it is a great time for individuals to realise their personal impact on this planet and how they can help to tackle climate change. This is my first big step towards that. I shall let you know how I get on with this life change.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that somebody else will save it” Robert Swan
2. Reach 24 countries visited in my 24th year travelling ethically and sustainably
At the time of writing, I have visited 19 countries in 4 continents. In the next 2 months I will be ticking off Malaysia and Australia bringing my total to 21. I am hoping to go Brazil this August as I spontaneously/accidently bought tickets for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. As I’m in South America and I have friends living in Buenos Aires I may as well visit Argentina too. So that’s one more country to fit in this next year. Maybe Ireland or Uruguay as that’s very close to Buenos Aires too… All in all its already shaping up to be a very exciting 2016.
Travelling on a budget already means travelling fairly ethically and sustainably. We use local transport as it’s cheaper, we eat local food in local restaurants as it’s cheaper and tastier, we stay in small locally run accomodation, we don’t take photos of children unless given permission by parents/guardians, we don’t visit animal shows or camps. Package holidays and internationally owned complexes and resorts can be detrimental to the local area. Money is not going into that area and local businesses but to the pockets of the huge chains. Tourists do not get the same experience either which is shame not to become submerged in the local cuisine or culture when on holiday.
The tap water in South East Asia is not drinkable to western standards so tourists buy bottled water. This means there is a huge amount of waste in plastic bottles. I see it everywhere piled up high on the sides of the roads or in bins. I see them littering pristine beaches. I see them clogging up drains. I myself am one of these people who buys 3 bottles of water a day at least. However there are ways to around this. You can refill your bottle wherever possible. Or you can buy water bottles with water purification systems in them. I considered buying one in New Zealand but baulked at the price. However, considering how much I have spent on buying water it would of been a sound investment. And I think it will be one of the things I buy and take with me on my next trip to South America.
3. To stand by my own opinions
Traveling really has made me realise my key values and what I want from life. And I think I should be more assertive in these views. Not only to others but to myself too. It’s easy to forget or think ‘just this once’ because it is easier than standing by your beliefs. Whether this be having a bacon sandwich when I’m hungover.
4. To blog more
It is easy for me to write blog posts at the moment as I do not have a job and everyday I am experiencing amazing things which I can write about. I am going to try to continue to blog when I get home in March and have finished travelling for the time being. It will probably just be posts of how I miss it but there we go.
5. Make the global goals a reality in 2016
On September 25th, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals to end poverty, inequality & climate change. They will only happen if we can make them famous. See all of them here.