Each month at the Gate, we set ourselves a monthly Green Gate Challenge. Green Gate is what we call our sustainability policy and we like to embark on monthly challenges.
The challenges are about changing how we think in the long term (and not just for that month), but we’ve found that giving each month a focus helps us keep sustainability and our Green Gate Policy at the forefront of our thinking as an organisation.
This month we decided to have meat-free Mondays.
Eating factory-farmed animals, which is – let’s face it – most meat sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants, is almost certainly the single worst thing that humans do to the environment.
Here’s a fact for you: if every American dropped one serving of chicken per week from their diet, it would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as taking 500,000 cars off the road.
We’re only a team of 10, but small changes make big impacts and so we decided to take on this challenge.
Why not take on the #GreenGate challenge?
As always, here’s how we found it!
I’m a vegetarian and I have been for about 7 or so years, so this really wasn’t much of a challenge for me. So, instead, I pledged to go for vegan Mondays (sometimes shifted to vegan Tuesdays on the bleakest of Monday mornings). And it was REALLY hard. Just trying to remember was difficult enough because the hardest thing about this challenge is that it asks you to change your habits. Habits cultivated over a lifetime. To inspire the office, and myself, I turned to an extract from Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, where he states: Changing what we eat and letting tastes fade from memory create a kind of cultural loss, a forgetting. But perhaps this kind of forgetfulness is worth accepting — even worth cultivating (forgetting, too, can be cultivated). To remember my values, I need to lose certain tastes and find other handles for the memories that they once helped me carry.
And I found that quite inspiring. I’ll certainly keep slipping in a vegan breakfast/lunch/dinner where possible, until that stops feeling like a loss and more like a habit.
Chrissy Angus, General Manager
I actually feel guilty eating meat. In my past I have been a Vegetarian but have slipped back into eating meat. I don’t eat Lamb though and I don’t ever buy uncooked meat and put in my fridge at home for later cooking and eating. This just feels so wrong. If there’s an easy choice when I’m buying food out and about I’ll choose Vegetarian but often just go for an easy tasty option of meat.
This September Challenge is welcomed as it’s helping me stay on a Veggie route. I’ve managed to go Vegetarian on Mondays and might continue this trend…
Richard Lambert, Technical Manager
I’ve been trying to follow a ‘vegan before 6pm’ lifestyle since 2013. It’s essentially a slightly less pretentious and easier to follow way of being a Climatarian – someone who makes choices based on the impact my diet has on the planet. When I watched the documentary Cowspiracy, I felt a real need to change my diet if I truly wanted to change the world. However August is tough in theatre – all the travelling to Edinburgh and back and follow that up with September which is one of my busiest months of the year I had somewhat let things slip! Being challenged to start the week with the commitment that I would decisively choose to be a vegan was a great challenge and fun to remind myself why I committed to VB6 all those years ago. I’m happily reembracing my almond milk and hummus once more.
Fiona English, Development Manager
This was a really hard challenge for me even though it was only one day of the week. It made me realise how much meat I consume and how much I regard meat as a pivotal part of my meals. It’s worrying when I think about the impact eating meat has on the environment and how little we’re all doing to combat it. This challenge has made me more mindful about my eating habits which I hope will result in a better diet and a smaller carbon footprint.
Natasha Brown, Marketing and Audience Development Officer
I don’t eat many vegetables within my diet anyway, so the thought of doing no meat one day a week was a big challenge. When I was at work it was easier to be meat free, as I would have a vegetarian sandwich and some fruit, and feel satisfied. It was when I went home, and made my dinner, that I completely forgot I wasn’t eating meat (and therefore failed many times). This is because meat is the norm for my family. I don’t even think of it as meat anymore. However, the challenge has definitely made me think about the impact of my eating habits on the environment, but also shown me that I will have to do a lot more work to change this.
Lynette Linton, Associate Director
As a ‘meat eater’, and as for one of our previous challenge ‘Vegan Monday and vegetarian the rest of the week’, this challenge was quite difficult for me. I did give it a go, but gave up towards the end. This is mainly because my food shopping wasn’t prepared well enough and also because I was too lazy to cook a ‘meat free’ meal. Removing meat from your diet might seem easy, but whether you are an omnivorous or vegetarian, changing your diet will require proper preparation. Even if it’s just for one day! Since I started working out regularly (and also because, some years ago, I was vegetarian for 2 years!) I came to learn that you must replace anything you remove from your alimentation by an equivalent in order to have a healthy diet.
Because of environmental and health concerns, and since I became a “sporty” person, I did made some changes to my alimentation though. I eat and buy less red meat and tuna than I used to and I surprisingly consume less cow’s milk and chicken.
If unlike me you are serious about going meat free (partially or fully) or if you’d like to get more information, I’ll recommend you to consult your GP or a Nutritionist. And, you should definitely watch ‘Cowspiracy’. It’s a very good documentary informing viewers of the massive impact the meat industry has on our planet.
Suzy Sancho, Theatre Administrator