I am a walking cliché when it comes to Vegetarianism. In certain ways anyway. It’s all the rage at the moment to cut meat out in a bid to save the planet, especially as we approach the end of the biggest Veganuary campaign to date. But why is there so much fuss all of a sudden, and why would you go Veggie? For me, the reason I took the plunge was three-fold…
1. The Environment
This was a big reason, and I actually only cut out red meat and pork initially, solely in a bid to do my (however tiny) bit for the environment. We should all now be well aware of the mammoth carbon emissions it takes to rear cattle, from the deforestation occurring to generate the amount of feed the cattle require, to the methane released into the environment as the cattle are actually feeding. Many omnivores argue that veggie/vegan alternatives are just as torturous on the planet, and although yes, currently all food generating process do have a carbon footprint ,the figures show that meat is the worst offender, and staggeringly so. I’m not going to get into the figures in this post, but if you fancy learning more there is a great Guardian podcast from last week with a very educated Oxford man with all the stats you could want.
2. The Animals
The cliché. I’m not going to preach on this one because in honesty I would be a hypocrite. I wear leather shoes and will still eat fish now and again (for lack of choice on a menu mainly). But when you stop eating meat and learn more about the industry, you see a side to meat that you generally overlook as a meat eater. ‘Chicken’ to me before was a tasty food, maybe roasted on a Sunday dinner or maybe grilled in a burger. But now a chicken is an animal. And I’m not stupid, obviously I always knew it was an animal, but as a meat eater I was so disassociated from the living animal that it used to be, looking back it’s just a bizarre way for my mind to work. I think that’s something you can’t go back on once you hit the realisation.
3. Personal Health
Here’s the bit that made me take the plunge back in October. The Game Changers. Yep, I told you I was a cliché. I watched a documentary and went Vegetarian. There has been a lot of buzz around this documentary and it seems to have been a bit like marmite. Obviously people that love the meat industry HATE it. But it has some serious points that you just cannot argue with. The links between meat eating and the quality of our bodily functions is CRAZY. So as an ultimately selfish human being, knowing that it might benefit me to cut out meat and prevent pretty serious diseases later in life (heart disease and meat eating is scarily connected), I would have been mad not to listen, even if just a little bit.
Initially Luke and I went fully plant-based after watching this, amongst other docs and research we read. But have since taken a more flexitarian approach, eating as much vegan as possible but mainly a Vegetarian diet by definition. We all aren’t completely against eating meat, just if we do ever do so again it will be a very rare treat. But if I’m honest, I really haven’t missed it and have for the first time in my life been easily getting my 5-a-day in, and feeling so much better! I feel less sluggish and get much fewer headaches than I used to(daily) as a meat eater, which seems like quite the coincidence. Not. I’d recommend giving it a watch to see for yourselves and make your own mind up on it.
An annoying thing about going Veggie is a lot of people just don’t get it. ‘What do you even eat?’ Is the confused question I get asked on the regular now, and let me tell you, I’ve eaten better since going veggie than I ever have before in my whole 26 years. There are so many great recipes out there, we have currently been working our way through the BOSH cookbook, with the Sticky Shitake mushrooms being a firm favourite, but I just don’t think you can beat a good Veggie Chilli or burrito, but that’s my Mexican-food-obsessed-bias talking. The book is full of amazing and pretty easy recipes, even Luke has been loving cooking for us from it, and it used to be a huge chore getting him to follow a recipe, let me tell you. The Food Medic is another great one, the book is obviously full of healthy recipes, and although it’s not strictly a veggie cookbook, an awful lot of the recipes are veggie or vegan, and there is a lot of information in there from Dr. Hazel Wallace about how to create a healthy Vegan or Veggie diet and ensure you aren’t going to fall deficient in anything, as that is a big worry for a lot of people, and something you need to be aware of when prepping Veggie and Vegan meals.
After writing all of that, I just want to stress that I’m really not one to judge people who don’t want to go Veggie, it’s totally understandable. After all, it’s how we have all been raised in the west, eating meat is the norm, and quite a big cultural point for a lot of families. However we need to continue to evolve and adapt as humans if we want to pass a positive and healthy planet onto our future generations, just in the same way that we can’t continue to buy diesel cars, or buy endless mass produced fast fashion, we really need to be working towards a mass scale meat consumption reduction. Cutting out meat and animal produce for just one or two days a week makes a huge difference to your overall consumption by nearly 30% which is such a positive difference, to your health and the environment.