It was probably only a matter of time before I got onto this subject.
Two questions I am asked most frequently are: “How long have you been vegetarian?” and “Why are you a vegetarian?”
Ok, the first question is simple enough to answer; I’ve been vegetarian since Christmas 2014 which is when I had my last meat based meal.
The second question, for me, is also easy to answer. I became veggie because I no longer, could, in all good conscience, continue to eat meat in the knowledge of the suffering that goes hand in hand with the modern meat industry.
But why are people so bothered about me being a vegetarian? That baffles me.
I came late to the veggie party but better late than never, as the saying goes. I’ve been aware for some time now, that the modern-day methods of factory farming are not conducive to treating animals in a fair, ethical, moral and humane way. I chose to educate myself on where my food was coming from. The more I found out, the more I became eager to make changes to my diet.
I moved in with my boyfriend in 2012, he has been vegetarian since he was 18 and I adopted a veggie diet at home simply because it was easier and more economical than having to cook and prepare two different types of meals. Eating out socially would be my “time off” from being veggie.
As someone who is always keen to learn about things and educate herself however, I made the choice to learn more about modern-day factory farming. The things I have learned, are not for the faint of heart.
“But, humans have eaten meat for thousands of years!” I hear you cry.
True, but, thousands of years ago, factory farming did not exist. Our cave dwelling ancestors killed only what they needed to survive, they lived in equilibrium with the land and what it offered them. They also relied on what they could grow.
In my opinion, it is simply not right, that animals are crammed into tiny cages and crates with no room to move. That they are kept in warehouses on concrete floors with no sunlight, no grass under their feet, no freedom to roam. This is prison of the worst kind.
My boyfriend is going down the more vegan route. I admit, I find this more of a challenge but there are some changes I have made to my diet which have been very easy.
Milk – humans are the only animals on the planet that consume milk from another animal. We don’t need cows’ milk, it’s meant for cows, not humans. I made the change to soya a couple of years ago and have since moved onto oat milk which is lovely. The flavour is soft and nowhere near as strong as cows’ milk.
Cheese – a bit harder this one, cheese is really quite delicious and the vegan versions are a long way behind replicating that but, to be honest, I only ever have cheese when eating Italian food and apparently, the vegan parmesans are very good so I guess I will get used to not having my usual cheddar.
Eggs – I used to eat a lot of these, poached is my favourite way to do eggs and in baking, they are a binding ingredient. However, the dairy industry is incredibly cruel so I’ve simply stopped buying them. My diet includes Quorn products though and egg is used in a lot of their food so I’m not quite there yet.
I no longer wear animal skins. My old leather shoes and boots are from a time when I was less informed about the choices I was making so now, I make do with the fake versions (I have always been anti-fur). I haven’t worn wool or silk for years.
You could call me a hypocrite and perhaps you’re right. I grew up on the traditional diet of meat, potatoes and veg. I never really gave much thought to where my food came from until I was much older and it still took me some time to make the changes I wanted to make. Make them I did, however and I feel within myself, much better for doing so.
Aside from the health benefits of going to a plant based diet there are benefits for the planet and our environment, something which every single one of us should be concerned with.
On a simpler level however, vegetarianism challenges me to create and cook meals that are varied, healthy and full of flavour. I don’t go hungry and I don’t get bored either. I have a shelf full of veggie cookbooks and I’m always keen to try something different.
I am not telling you to go veggie, I am not telling you to change your lifestyle overnight. What I am doing is asking you to perhaps have a little more thought about where your food comes from. You might want to continue eating meat, if so, perhaps go to your local butcher instead of the supermarket, buy direct from source where there is a chain of traceability. Support your local community instead. Still want to eat eggs? Buy organic, better yet, get yourself a couple of hens and have fresh eggs every day. Lots of people have their own hens, what better way to have ethically produced eggs?
I love animals. They are sentient creatures, just like humans. They have brains, nervous systems, they breathe oxygen, they feel fear, pain and joy. We keep cats, dogs, rabbits etc as family pets but think nothing of eating a cow, lamb or pig – why are they any different to the rest?
Hopefully, I have given you food for thought (pun intended) with this post and if even one person reading this blog decides to make changes or educate themselves further on the meat and dairy industries or replaces a couple of meals a week with a veggie option then my efforts will have not been in vain.