So, here we are. Writing a post I never thought I would write, and in your case, reading yet another post about some millennial hack who has gone vegetarian and is probably going to start bugging you about it soon, jesus h. christ can’t a person have a bacon sanga in peace…. Hah. If that is the case, off you trot. What are you even doing here? I decided to write this post to talk about why I decided to go vegetarian, and how I went about it, because let’s get one thing straight: I did not give up meat because I don’t like it, or because of some dietary requirement, or health reasons or whatever. I gave up eating meat strictly for ethical reasons, and there are some days (still) when I would absolutely consider killing (or at least maiming) someone for a proper burger. So why?
I first starting seriously considering vegetarianism about two years ago, when I was 23. Videos starting going around about the Yu Lin festival in China, and I have never been so close to passing out or throwing up or both just from watching a video on social media. That sort of cruelty is something that makes no sense to me at all, and is utterly and completely unnecessary. You don’t have to be cruel to a creature just because you plan on eating it; I would actually argue that you should be nicer because of the fact! I truly considered giving up meat then and there, but of course there was always a reason not to. Aforementioned bacon sangas, for one. And I really do like the taste of meat, I always have. My sister, on the other hand, has been a vegetarian since she was eleven years old. Her willpower is the stuff of legend in my family (and serious, serious envy). And since she clearly survived childhood and her teenage years ( a bit bedraggled, along with the rest of us!), then vegetarianism obviously won’t kill a person. And she didn’t seem like she missed it, so… I guessed it must have been alright, at least.
It’s like the Baader Menhoff phenomenon though, you know? See something once, and then all of a sudden you’re seeing it freaking everywhere? I feel like videos about animal cruelty, animal abuse, animal testing….it all ended up on my feed and it was horrific. And that’s not to mention the environmental effects of the huge herds of animals that are bred specifically for food. Google it, the statistics of wastage are atrocious. And there came a point when I realized I just couldn’t do it anymore. I just could not do it. At the same time, I seriously doubted my ability to go cold turkey (hah), so in November of 2016 I gave up red meat, but continued to eat chicken and fish.
And, my dudes, it sucked. It sucked hard. I missed bacon. I missed burgers. I missed stroganoff. Lasagna. Spaghetti and meatballs. Bolognese. All foods that I loved that were beyond my reach. And, no lie, even nearly a year later I still crave meat every once in a while. I do. No point in hiding it, it’s the truth. I never eat any though, because my desire to eat meat in no way on this earth is greater than my desire not to be part of a system that perpetrates cruelty and abuse upon species’ that literally cannot defend themselves against us. And then, once it sucked slightly less, I gave up chicken and fish as well. June of 2017 was when I became a proper vegetarian, and again, it sucked hard. I hadn’t realized how much I had increased my intake of chicken in particular, until I cut if from my diet. No more chicken pesto toasties, no more chicken nachos, no more chicken and mushroom fettuccine. But I did it, and it sucks a little bit less all the time. And, even better, I feel pretty damn good about it. I now have to take a fistful of vitamins every day (no joke, three different ones every morning) to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies common in people with vegetarian diets, but that’s ok. Because I no longer eat anything that was born to a mother, was capable of feeling pain (and other sentiments, I’m sure) and may otherwise have lived a full life. Even fish have families. And I know, I know that one person (i.e., me) not eating meat is unlikely to make a blind bit of difference to the global overproduction of food (including meat and meat by-products), but it might. And it makes a difference to me, you know?
Now, beyond the obvious, there are other things that I don’t (can’t) eat due to my vegetarianism. Like literally anything with gelatin in it, because gelatin is made out of rendered pork skin oh my god. I truly to god nearly threw up when I first found that out, and it is so upsetting because gummy bears were life. Also, certain types of sauces like pesto; my (former) favourite brand had animal rennet it in! Just…no, you know? People don’t buy basil pesto thinking it has meat in it. They buy it because they think it’s got basil in it. They put it on their sandwiches with aioli because the combination is delicious, and probably feed it to their vegetarian friends thinking they’re doing the right thing and being supportive but they’ve been completely duped because the god damn pesto has animal bits in it!
Read the ingredients, my dudes. Read the ingredients.
Also, I’ve learned to compensate for the lack of meat in my various different recipes. Nachos ar eamazing with chickpeas and lentils instead of meat. Put lentils and red or blackbeans in your bolognese sauce instead of mince. Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and red beans work fantastically in lasagna. And, most importantly, I did end up finding a damn good basil pesto that did NOT contain animal rennet. For the win! And when I really just want something to chew on that is not a freaking lentil or chickpea, there’s Quorn, so I can have not-schnitzel and not-nuggets and not-burgers and they honestly taste pretty good.
Maybe think about reducing your intake of meat to two or three days a week, and see how you go. Look for some vegetarian recipes (they’re a lot more abundant than they used to be!); if you’re really keen, check out the Revive series of vegetarian recipe books, because the food in those is bomb.
If you have any questions that I haven’t answered here, or just want to chat about vegetarianism or ethics or whatever, leave a comment below or send me a message via the Contact Me page, I’d love to hear from you!
Featured image credit: Google and then this place