Before I dig deep into the topic of this post I just wanted to give a little disclaimer. Food and diet is an incredibly personal subject and there are very few if any people out there who should be telling anyone what they should or shouldn't be doing. I've debated writing this for a while as since cutting meat out of my diet it's had such a positive impact on my life so naturally, it's something that I wanted to share. I cannot bear to see other people critiquing other people's diet in any way, it's so inherently wrong. So this isn't a post where I'm going to be preaching about how amazing vegetarianism is and I'm much superior now because I don't eat meat as that obviously that isn't true. But it's been something that's made such a positive change in my life that I wanted to have an honest chat about it.
Vegetarianism and veganism is a big thing online right now, it's something I read about on a daily basis and it's a lifestyle/diet I've been familiar with for years. During university, my boyfriend was vegan so I cut out meat from my diet without really meaning to for a while and that's what introduced me to meat alternatives and how good they could be. I'd been thinking about properly cutting meat out of my diet for a while. It was never something I ate that often, I was almost a social meat eater and could happily go weeks without it so I knew it wouldn't be a difficult change for me. However, before deciding to make the switch properly I did a lot of research as I have a digestive disease and I wanted to know how other people found a vegetarian diet bearing their digestive issues in mind. And generally, it was a mixed result so like 95% of things in life it's just something you have to try for yourself. Not only did I research the general effects of vegetarianism I also researched the diet in itself and how I'd get enough nutrients and what might irritate my digestive system. So for me, it was mainly a decision based on the fact I didn't eat meat that much and I was also curious if it would have a positive effect on health too, it's never going to the cure but maybe it could help?
A DOCUMENTARY TO CHECK OUT
THE ETHICAL REASONS
Whilst the ethical reasons weren't a huge factor in my decision they certainly did come into it. I've never felt comfortable saying that I'm passionate about animal welfare whilst eating them and I adore my little dog more than anything in the world. The way that animals are slaughtered is truly horrifying and the things that happen to them in order to get animal byproducts are vile. It's so easy to disconnect yourself from the reality of the meat and dairy industry as they're both such normal dietary choices in our society. As I've not made the switch to veganism I'm aware that I'm still contributing to an industry which animals are harmed but I do make a conscious effort where I can. I very rarely eat eggs and try to keep dairy to a minimum but changing a lifetime of eating habits successfully isn't something I believe can be done overnight. I truly don't believe that switching over to a vegan lifestyle is as simple as it's made out to be, there are so many factors involved and so many questions to be asked.
IT'S A JOURNEY
Once I made the decision to stop eating meat I cut it out my diet immediately. Because I wasn't a big meat eater anyway I knew it wasn't going to be something that I found incredibly hard. I made this decision at the end of May and I've found it a really positive journey so far. I don't miss or crave meat but I do find eating out a little difficult. However, right now we're incredibly fortunate that there are more and more meat alternatives on the market and the vegetarian/vegan range in supermarkets is pretty awesome. I feel like I understand what is in my food a lot more and I've found it way more enjoyable because when you cut out meat you're forced to be a little more creative with your meals. Since childhood I've suffered from something called 'food phobia' which to put it simply means I have a lot of anxieties around food and trying something new terrifies me. And whilst it would be easy to think cutting out meat would cause those anxieties to increase it's calmed them dramatically. To some this might sound silly but it's forced me to be fearless with my eating and not be so scared to try something new.
Something I'm very conscious of is how much I'm spending on food, I don't want to waste my hard earned cash on things that I will never eat or just end up throwing in the bin. Meat is incredibly expensive, even just buying it for one person is a costly habit which is another factor of why I didn't eat much of it before. Since making the switch I've found my food bill has gone down a little . However, if you buy a tonne of things from Quorn and other substitute brands it does mount up in cost but it's definitely cheaper than buying a lot of different meats. I'm pretty savvy when it comes to food shopping anyway and whilst places like Aldi and Lidl don't offer the most luxurious shopping experience they are much more affordable for a lot of things. And small things like not buying fruit that's not in season or buying it frozen is a really simple way to cut down costs.
THE BENEFITS OF THE SWITCH & IS IT FOR YOU?
Switching to vegetarianism or even veganism aren't going to cure my health problems [sorry pseudoscience believers] but I have found it to alleviate a few of my symptoms which is a really positive change for me but this blog isn't really the place to share details of my intestines and bowels so I'll spare you the details and move on. And in general, it's been something that's had a really good impact on my life and I've found it enjoyable as I've discovered foods that I would have never have eaten otherwise.
Cutting out meat isn't something that's for everyone and it's so unfair for others to push it on people. Doing your own research is imperative as what works for one is never going to work the same for everyone else. There are so many people online who like to use scare tactics about eating meat/animals products and suggest cutting them out can cure every disease on the planet and that's not true. And especially when the people spouting this nonsense have no experience with any of these diseases it's truly terrifying to see people follow this advice so blindly. If switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet/lifestyle is something that you feel is right and plausible for you then that's awesome but if it's not then that's ok. [Just a quick note; I've not discussed the effects eating meat has on the environment as I think it's far too much of a complex issue and I cannot put my thoughts into coherent sentences].
AND SOME AWESOME VEGGIE FRIENDLY OPTIONS
Linda McCartney Pulled Pork Burgers, Tesco Mushroom Risotto Bakes, Linda McCartney Red Onion & Rosemary Sausages and Lasagne