Besides thinking it was a term I personally coined (a quick Google search showed that the internet had beaten me by almost a decade), it is both an accurate way to summarize my current diet, and not something you should ever tell someone when asked – do you have any dietary requirements I should know about?
WTF is a Sustarian Diet?
In short, someone who practices Sustainatarianism (I’m claiming that one) will adjust their diet for minimal environmental impact. Reducing your fish intake in Thailand, or beef just about anywhere in the world is probably a good idea, but the plant-only alternative isn’t necessarily the only (or even best) answer. Even the omnipotent vegan who travels an hour in their car to milk a chickpea should probably pause to reflect on their footprint.
I served with the British military for eight years and now work as a Bomb Disposal Operator in Vietnam. It’s not a stretch to suggest that my professional background is overtly masculine. However, my hobbies however include yoga and surfing. I am a qualified Hatha teacher in the former, and an enthusiastically ranked amateur in the latter. My left and right, yin and yang, sun and moon (whatever you want to call it) contrast aggressively and it took me a while to find a happy medium.
Burning up in the hot, Middle Eastern sun I found myself perspiring (not from the heat) when trying to explain to my sailors that I, a red blooded male, practiced (and enjoyed) yoga. Conversely, I squirmed at the inexplicable feeling of guilt when I declared myself a lover of steak to students in the Shala. I do not include chanting in my classes and never join in the Om Shanti’s when I attend someone else’s. It’s not a sign of disrespect, I just don’t feel comfortable when doing it, and yoga is supposed to be a comfortable pursuit (otherwise what’s the point). And there was the key to finding my balance, taking what you have learned on the mat and applying it off the mat. What makes you comfortable?
For a long time, my go to hangover food was largely based around beef burgers. Not too much decision making required and usually avoided food envy or anything to upset my fragile state of mind. Unfortunately, statistics found their way to my better nature and ruined everything. It depends where you read your news and the figures vary wildly depending on the agenda but both the US Geological Survey and National Park Service claim one burger patty requires a massive 1300 gallons of water to produce (that’s hydration for the cow, the cow’s food, and processing of the carcass). Now it doesn’t matter if you love beef, its hard to pretend that doesn’t sound a little wasteful. For me, it was enough to draw a line through it. I avoid dairy milk because I think plant substitutes actually taste better, but I would need to be involved in the rearing and butchery of the beast in question if I was going to sample its delicious meaty goodness again.
Roughly twice a year, I get home to my parents where I experience a Sustainatarian’s veritable garden of Eden. My father, now retired from the Army, stalks deer in an area that is grossly over populated with several different deer species (‘stalks’ the present tense verb to hunt big game, not to be confused with some sort of sexual predator). His methods are humane, responsible, and above all – sustainable. My mother then helps prepare the carcass in the kitchen sink (and does not leave the tap running) before cooking it in to numerous different dishes each more delicious than the last, all paired with fresh vegetables grown in the garden.
Reducing Your Footprint
Please understand this is not meant to sound boastful, but hopefully goes some way to explain my acceptance of the bovine shaped void in my refrigerator. Here’s an inflammatory statement – There is nothing cruel abut eating the meat of another animal. Indeed it is one of the most natural things about being human, but the process of making its way to your plate can all too often be wasteful, irresponsible, and in many cases downright barbaric (and in this digital age there really is no excuse for ignorance). The best way to stick to a new diet is to enjoy it, so rather than restricting whole food groups, why not follow your own moral compass and enjoy the myriad possibilities of food from every group that you know will still be here for generations to come, washed down with a comfortable healthy state of mind.