Oftentimes people use animal cruelty as a reason to give up meat and to follow a vegetarian diet. Whilst this reason is strong and extremely valid, it was never my motivation and it still isn’t today. I kind of just fell into it. It wasn’t planned at all and if you’d have told me when I was 17 that I would be a full vegetarian by the age of 20 I would’ve laughed at you. I have no problem with other people eating meat and I would never try to push vegetarianism onto anyone because it is not my place to do so. I can only say why I feel it has made a difference to me.
When I did eat meat, up until the age of about 19, my diet didn’t really contain a whole lot of good nutrition. I ate a lot of processed foods and I don’t remember ever eating any veggies because I had told myself for years that I didn’t really like them. I went through phases as a child of only eating rice pudding or custard, oh and there was a spaghetti hoops on toast phase too. On the rare occasion that I ate something marginally healthy it would’ve been a piece of fruit such as a banana, an apple or an orange. Later on in my teenage years I ate things like chicken nuggets, oven chips, tinned beans, crisp and chocolate. I also ate weekly at McDonalds, Burger King and KFC.
So how did I make the transition from meat eating and poor nutrition to vegetarian with a full nutritious diet? The first indicator towards becoming a veggie was that I didn’t like touching meat in its raw state, it felt creepy to be messing around with a dead animal. It was fine when it was cooked by someone else and I was oblivious to any thoughts relating to its previous state. I enjoyed chicken, lamb, duck etc. So, with this block of not wanting to cook meat and living with my partner who is vegetarian, when I moved out of my parents’ house my meat intake dropped drastically. As time passed throughout the first few months of changing my environment I was only eating meat in restaurants or at friends’ houses who had prepared meat. Eventually, I started to try new foods and I gradually phased out the meat and replaced it with more vegetables and meat free options that I really enjoyed. 7 years down the line I am now eating vegetables with every meal and I am prepared to try new ones as often as possible.
I can’t really give you an exact difference of how I feel now in comparison to how I felt when I was eating meat because I can’t remember, but I can say that I feel good about the food I put into my body and I never have to worry about undercooking food and poisoning myself. (I did this once when I was younger). I rarely crave meat and if I do it is not actual meat that I am thinking about, it’s something a bit more processed like a hotdog or a chicken nugget. It usually passes within minutes and I go on to think about all of the delicious Quorn and meat free products there is available today that are much healthier protein sources for me that I can happily cook for myself.
I think the point of me writing this post is that it is common practice for people to tell themselves “I don’t like this” or “I don’t like that” when they haven’t even tried it. I was one of those people, so unbelievably fussy with a block between healthy food and me. However, when I explored a new environment I was able to open up and experiment and try new things. So I suppose that is the reason why I am sticking to the meat free life. It’s easy and it allows me to eat so much more than I ever did.