I’m not really sure how it happened. I don’t remember an earth shaking moment I stood from a great rock and declared that I shall not eat meat anymore, but suddenly I wasn’t.
It’s all a bit of an unorthodox route to it and not quite sticking to the rules but I guess I’m a practically vegan pescatarian. Is that even allowed? Who makes the rules…? Surely anything helps the cause? But half of this started not because of ‘the cause’ but because of, well… Gas.
In 2012, just before the merriment of that year’s Christmas I was struck down with a strain of noro virus. But I pause here, and rewind further. It was in fact in the time period pre-wedding day in 2011 when I was without realising eating less and losing weight (and ending up with a loose wedding dress but that’s a whole other story!) and had cut meat out my diet as it just seemed better on my digestion. This started my less-meat-in-my-diet journey. I cut down and had on the odd occasion. The less I had, the more it effected me when I did have it. Like eating sugar after a bout of free-from, it would hit my stomach like a brick and my body was at a loss at how to deal with it.
Fast forward to 2012 and the horrendous attack of noro virus (where you literally feel like death is on the cards) and in the after math (hurray! I’ve survived!) in early 2013 there was this very obvious reminder that my body, most specifically my digestive system had dealt with something really, really bad. Wind.
Looking into causes I gave giving up gluten and dairy a go. Having an issue with both after noro was a possibility and I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to take them out my diet. It made a big difference and to this day I stick to it 90% although think there’s something else causing issues (another issue?!). It’s hard and I am a little flexible, hence the 90%, as its always hard being ‘the one that doesn’t eat anything’, often presumed to just eat ‘dust’ and suddenly it seems invited to dinner less and less. Although giving up alcohol may have fuelled that last situation. I never dreamt I’d end up a vegetarian, let alone gluten-free and almost-vegan. It’s getting better, more widely accepted and catered for in restaurants but it’s hard when the veggie option will generally be a mushroom-pasta-goats-cheesey-or-tart option (always goats cheese, I sigh, I think people presume it’s an automatic honour given to those who turn veggie – a life long love of goats cheese! Well sadly no, we don’t!)
So slowly I cut more and more out my diet, fortunate that I enjoy healthy food, love vegetables and fruit, I easily managed to cook good hearty food even with all the foods that were cut out (see previous busylittleladyeats post about dairy free cooking)
And then it was the turn of meat to go under the spot light. As I wasn’t a big meat eater this was never going to be hard but it wasn’t planned.
People often think it’s because I got a dog as it all happened around the same time. I suppose looking in his big brown eyes did open up my mind to the sensitivity and intelligence of animals but then he eats meat so it wasn’t him that stopped me doing the same but it was an awareness. An awareness of animal welfare. Cue endless video watching, article reading and constant reminders on social media of the humans and their treatment of animals – and then realisation kicked in.
I guess this was my moment (a little earth shaking) when my brain knew there was issues in the world. My drive to give up meat? In this world we have driven the consumer need for meat, a presumption that we should have it in every meal and a demand that it should be cheaper and cheaper. No longer is it a privilege or Sunday treat but suddenly it’s as average as a potato (sorry Mr Potato!) and cheaper than a coz lettuce! Something is wrong with that equation.
With the recent uproar (which social media allows to be in the public eye) of the plight of certain animals having a raw deal – dogs, seals, elephants, and other animals focused on for their horrific treatment, I get on my soap box and think how can people get so distressed over a dog meat festival brutality yet sit in their armchair tucking into a pulled pork sandwich. Why did the pig deserve it but not the dog? See? We can’t condemn another country for their choice of meat [although the way they go about getting that meat, they should all be hung, drawn and quartered themselves; its barbaric and needs to end] yet happily buy cheap packaged cuts of pork, chicken and beef and think there’s no similarity.
Most humans if they saw the way an animal gets from field (or cage!) to plate would no doubt be put off eating it. And most vegetarians would probably become full vegan if they saw inside a dairy farm. But we seem to be able to switch off to certain practices yet get on our high horse (which we also get shirty about when it’s in an IKEA meatball!) about others.
Peoples demand for meat has reduced it to another inanimate object and commodity. I think I would still eat meat if we lived in a world that gave it more status. However the truth is firstly we don’t need it in our diet – yes it’s true taking meat out your diet won’t turn you into a weak crazy hippy that wears crocs and lives off mushroom (and yes there is more to a vegetarians life than stuffed mushrooms!) and secondly our world would function better with productivity, decrease famine, and providing for everyone if we took meat out our diets.
This article from Peta highlights the drawbacks of animal farming on the world and the negative impact – and highlights how beneficial a vegan world would be (or at least a vegetarian one!)
The drawback? Yes I am open minded. I think of the livelihoods that would be lost. Peoples lives revolve around this trade and farming. Families depend on it and it couldn’t simply be ended. There are good farmers and meat traders but it’s a tiny percentage of a mammoth industry and until we value meat higher this will get worse and worse.
My theory? Don’t eat what you couldn’t kill yourself. Simple.
I said this recently to a friend who thought it was a wise thought. Yet they are a vegetarian who eats chicken! What did the chicken do?
It is a slippery slope from vegetarianism to veganism, but it’s a hard journey fraught with difficulties of finding alternatives, having little or no option eating out, hunting for make up and toiletry replacements that tick the vegan box yet still do the job you need them too and then there’s being made to feel different or weird. That’s the hardest – that look and the questioning. Yes, strangely enough I can survive without bacon and yes, I shockingly I do have an incredibly varied diet and of course I can still have cake which doesn’t taste like cardboard!
But with the knowledge that in my own small way I am making a difference. I do what I can, I don’t beat myself up if I occasionally end up having milk chocolate instead of vegan dark chocolate, if occasionally I use halloumi the world won’t end but one thing I know for sure – in my heart I know I’ll never eat meat again (unless the world is facing the apocalypse and we are forced to hunt for survival as I am ever prepared zombie obsessed geek!) as meat is now for me those big brown eyes starring up at me, meat is all animals big, small, wild or domesticated, meat is a life that deserved to live and I can’t be associated with ending that life in anyway just for my greed or causing unnecessary suffering just for my (gluten free) cereal to have milk or my (gluten free) cracker to have some cheese!
I can’t change the world but I’m happy to quietly shout from my soap box. If people listen then that’s a bonus and maybe I’ve made a difference.
I’d love more vegan recipes if anyone has suggestions + I’d love to hear more folks views on for or against eating meat…