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Meatless Christmas or not?


15 December 2022

The holiday season is approaching and for most of us this means family and friends, cheesy Christmas mas movies and long rich dinners. Whilst the typical holiday feast may include tender ham or juicy roast beef, there is an increasing trend towards a meatless Christmas dinner. Well, maybe not so much meatless, though at least less meat. I often get the question whether we eventually will end up in a society with no-meat at all. Clearly no one really knows, it is hugely complex and context dependent, however I can take a best guess at where we are heading.

Regaining balance includes plant and animals

As the vegetarian/vegan movement continues to gain momentum, there’s growing talk of a potential future in which society no longer consumes meat. Although this has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other negative effects associated with animal agriculture, it’s important to understand that a completely meat-free society is neither a necessity nor the ideal. Some disciplines even find this out of balance. In Biomimicry – that studies nature as mentor, measure and model for innovation- animals play an important role in nature’s equilibrium. Experts like Imke de Boer (and many others) signal that only with (a balanced amount of) animal(s) products we can have a balanced system. What we should be aiming for is a lowered meat consumption in society, restoring the balance of plant and animal intake. In some regions of the world this means preventing this disbalance to occur.

Healthy and sustainable like the early days

We have to recognise that meat consumption is deeply embedded in many cultures. This can be seen especially in populations with a primarily agrarian background, where diets featuring animal products are traditional and essential to the society’s well-being. For many people, giving up meat would make them feel like they’re losing an important part of their cultural identity.

Animals for food and good

Meat is an essential part of a balanced diet for both humans and animals. It’s important for our bodies to get enough of the protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that are more difficult to obtain from other sources. We also need animals for circularity. They help in efficiently processing of waste streams and grass into high nutritious food. Did you know insects are true ecosystem engineers and that they are full of proteins available for consumption? We also use animal by-products for clothing, cosmetics, food and medical products. Best to assure that nothing goes to waste, creating a truly sustainable system in which all animals deserve to be well treated. We know how to do this; look how we treat our pets. In essence, it is going back to a more balanced system. Sounds easy right?

That Christmas dish matters

We all are in the position to make different choices on a daily basis, to get to and keep this balance. That is the bigger picture for Foodvalley NL. We help people with their role, embrace and support frontrunners that inspire and pull forward the mainstream, and assure that the right conditions are set for innovations to fly and change to occur. To make the healthy choice the easy choice, to optimally use side streams for food, feed and other purposes and to increase involvement from other sectors and disciplines. We all have a role to play. And with that comes responsibility. Start small, experiment with little steps. Why not with your Christmas dish!?

Ok, now, what is the alternative to turkey, you might wonder?

First of all, think of a good theme for your Christmas dinner. What about calling it “Dinner with Mother Earth” (DME). Give her a chair at your table, as a guide for all the tiny decisions a big Christmas dinner requires. She will guarantee a well-balanced meal and a Christmas toast for good health. On top of that you will be able to sleep well – physically and with peace of mind.

Where to start!?

I love cooking, and this is how I make my Personlised DME.

  • Make it a journey full of exploration and discovery: Try ingredients and recipes you’ve never tried before, or better even that bring you back to your holiday destinations. This couple made eating vegan FUN.
  • Focus on bold flavors and play local seasonal ingredients. Think magic beans.
  • Build a spectacle mixing colors, shapes, and textures, to create an attractive plate and to set a bold main dish.

Of course, the bigger picture of Christmas is the feast of warmth and togetherness. Let us give Mother Earth a seat at our table and remember and praise everything she brings in our daily lives.  

Have a wonderful holiday season and great year end celebrations!

Marjolein Brasz

PS If you really want to have a DME, join the Personalised Nutrition Community. This community works on a Healthy Sustainable Food. Mother Earth is table head, our end goal in shaping the future of food.