You may have seen this coming long before I did, but I have now decided along with my husband, to stop eating meat, fish and gelatine etc. Actually telling people we are now “vegetarian” has been a little awkward. It’s been an interesting few weeks and I wanted to share the experience!
I’ll begin at the beginning, or at least where I think it begun.
Having a degree in nutrition food and ethics has always been in my mind, but I didn’t always have an opportunity to install any beliefs into real life (or so that was my excuse) with living away from home, out of a suitcase for a few years.
Fast forward to 2015, when we have time to think for a moment. We have a poodle in the family and see how he behaves, feels pain, fear, happiness and emotions. We are aware that animals are clearly intelligent and able to feel many of the same emotions we do. So what is the difference between Ted and any other living animal…? Not much is the answer we came up with. We can’t bare to to think of the pain and fear animals feel when having their lives taken away for human consumption, against their will. So we stopped buying meat at the beginning of this year, however when being fed by others we ate it if not avoidable, so not to make a fuss. As with many people on this journey, you don’t want to inconvenience people so it’s easiest to start just by making changes within the household and not extending rules elsewhere.
By summer myself and my husband have stopped buying fish as well due to the fishing industry and issues with over fishing, sustainability and ethics. We also began researching household items and set out only buying organic, vegan household items and cosmetics, after all who wants animal tested soap or cleaning products with sea life in?
By Autumn, we have decided that in fact we don’t want anything to do with the meat industry and the way animal farming has become, we have to cut it out entirely even if inconveniencing people. We decided to tell our family and friends that we aren’t eating meat or fish with them any longer. Many have been understanding, supportive, even pleased and others have horror stories and worry about are nutrition. A crazy concept that people worry about another persons health rather than an animals life, or their own health.
Luckily I’m a trained, educated, degree level nutritionist. I know how to eat well and how to provide a balanced diet for my family. But it doesn’t seem to stop people worrying about us because we have stopped eating meat.. I mean how will we get enough protein? The answer is, have you met anyone with a protein deficiency? Or even heard of it? Enough said. You can get enough protein quite easily from vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs and grain.
I have to say the concerned reaction has been a surprise because we worry about everyone else’s diet, not our own! People consuming packaged food; scoffing huge amounts of sugar, sweetener and additives; taking no responsibility for the lives of animals they eat; munching on pre made sauces, ready meals and eating general false foods, all whilst metabolic syndromes, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease rocket. The nations increasing waistlines and clogging arteries are fuelled by overindulgence and poor dietary choices, not vegetarianism I assure you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true that many people fail to eat a vegetarian (or vegan) diet and get all the necessary nutrients, but this is usually because they don’t eat a balanced diet in the first place, then cut out their major protein, calcium, vitamin D and iron sources without substituting them. The key is just to eat fresh, eat well and eat better, not less.
We eat 5-7 portions of veg per day, very little sugar, plenty of good fats and get a substantial protein intake.. we also eat really delicious food! As a result of our dietary choices, we have a lower risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and digestive disease than people eating highly refined, low fibre, high sugar, unfresh, nutrient poor, processed diets. So in short, we’re healthy, not eating animals, our food bill is minimal, our food carbon footprint is small and we enjoy eating tasty fresh food.
We aren’t vegan, you may wonder why if we have a problem with animal farming, why we drink milk and yoghurt and eat eggs. Well, I guess it’s just all a process and we may end up there. We only buy these locally and organic certified dairy and eggs, but we are aware of the issues of dairy farming. Perhaps soon I’ll be writing about veganism, but for now, it’s local organic vegetarianism and we’re happy with that as a start. If everyone was so aware of the implications of their diet both environmentally, ethically and nutritionally, we’d be in a better place as a nation.
If we all learn to be mindful, mathematical and ethical, we can make positive changes to our own life, and those around us. Together we can make healthy dietary (and lifestyle) choices for the greater good and help others who want to make changes but can’t see where to begin. Say no to the profit driven food industry, be the change, buy local, eat fresh, unprocessed food, and say no to animal farming one step at a time. Start with introducing meat free days, and increasing the amount of food that is plant based and organic in our weekly shop. Find a local veg box scheme, get some fresh food! Make one small positive food change at a time. We aren’t saints, we are humans but we are also accountable, so think before you shop, think before you eat and be conscious of your decisions, because every action has a consequence, whether we like it or not.
Written by One Happy Healthy Vegetarian x