I like meat.
But I love animals more.
As a teenage vegetarian in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Quorn had not long been invented (it came onto the market in 1985). Linda McCartney meals and tofu were the only other options Mum and I were aware of. The internet wasn’t around, we were living in Germany as my Dad was in the army and we could only find tofu in Holland & Barrett. These days, these are no longer barriers. You can buy anything from Quorn mince, sausages and chicken pieces to Swedish-style meatballs and chicken fillets. I’ve even used the mince to make veggie Scotch Eggs (other brands are available!)
Whilst I reverted to eating meat in my late teens, not practicing what I preach has never sat comfortably. This has really come to the fore in the last few year and since we adopted Darakht, our Afghan Street Hound 18 months ago through the amazing Nowzad charity. A fellow Nowzad adopter recently said that rallying against the dog-meat trade made him feel like a hypocrite. We eat animals too, particularly cows which are sacred in other countries. He’s absolutely right and voiced exactly how I’ve been feeling.
Choosing vegetarianism is kinder to the planet
With a continually-evolving social conscience has come even more awareness of the unnecessary killing of animals around the world, the acquisition of Palm Oil and the dog meat trade the issues which most come to mind. If that wasn’t enough of an incentive, the meat industry is responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. The best example which comes to mind for me is cows and the methane gas they emit. According to the WHO, consuming less processed and red meat and more fruit & veg is one of the most effective ways to take action against climate change.
Choosing vegetarianism: November’s Veg Pledge
Choosing vegetarianism has been a long time coming for many reasons. But I’m not going to pretend that I won’t miss certain meats when (rather than if) I do chose vegetarianism permanently. I’ll definitely miss ham, chicken and Scotch Eggs but I could take or leave most other red meat. Then I read about Cancer Research’s November Veg Pledge and this seemed like the perfect starting point.
At home, I’ve phased out red meat for health reasons. But recently it’s been equally (if not more) for sustainability, environmental and ethical reasons. We’ve had several meat-free days a week for some time now. Instead, we’ve opted mainly for fish, cheese and vegetable-based dishes with the exception of Quorn.
Prior to November, I think one of the barriers (or excuses) to giving up meat was how my husband would react if I chose vegetarianism permanently (not that I would ever demand or expect him to give up meat). Would it be difficult eating out at restaurants? What about Christmas? Would he be happy or confident in preparing vegetarian meals? But not only does he completely get it, none of it has come as much of a surprise.
Choosing vegetarianism: discovering the beauty in living with less
I’ve had a word with myself more than once in the past 12 months for underestimating how Dave is embracing new eating habits, particularly if they are healthier and save us money in the long run. He is more than happy for us to be veggie at home during the November trial as he doesn’t see any point in cooking two different meals. In any case, the most meat my husband consumes is when he’s working away during the week and even then it’s mainly chicken. And, instead of seeing these changes as ‘practice’ for when we eventually embrace van life on a more permanent basis, they’re all part of our journey to discover the beauty in living with less. Dave also feels as strongly about the dog meat trade as I do. And why wouldn’t he? He’s an animal lover too.
Rather than finding it difficult not to eat meat, it’s getting easier the more time passes and very quickly I knew that I’d be extending the ‘trial’. I guess the difference is that it’s a conscious choice not to eat meat. I think I would have found the process more difficult had I chosen to do it for dietary reasons and feel like I was denying myself certain foods. I’m halfway through my month’s trial and already finding it inconceivable to resume eating meat at the end of it. I know in my heart that I’m finally on the road to choosing vegetarianism following many years of feeling conflicted and it feels like a natural inevitably.
Did you recently choose vegetarianism? Was it difficult or a really easy decision and how have you found the transition? I’d love to read about your own transition to a meat-free life in the comments below.