Vaguely Vegetarian

This needs to be said before anything else: this post is absolutely not intended as a criticism of people who eat meat, or other animal products. I don’t think being vegan/vegetarian makes you a good person, and I don’t think eating meat makes you a bad person. Everybody is different, everybody has individual circumstances and needs that I would not even dream of passing judgement on. I wrote this as an exploration of my own dietary changes, and some of the stuff that went on in my head to cause those changes. You might completely disagree with me and my reasoning, and that’s okay! I promise not to take it personally if you don’t! Now, with that disclaimer in place…

I never decided to stop eating meat. I didn’t stand at the oven, stirring a Bolognese sauce and thinking, “Farewell my beloved, this is the last time we can be together.” I almost wish I had – I feel like that relationship didn’t get the closure it deserved. I didn’t go to the shop one day with the decision in mind that this was it, no more meat going forward. Leaving aside my own feelings on meat, I don’t live on my own, and so my weekly meals weren’t solely up to me. In theory I could have started cooking meat-free meals just for myself, but I like sharing a meal with Partner of an evening! And I didn’t fancy doubling my cooking workload, so I looked for a compromise.

We switched to higher-welfare chicken as a way to support better quality of life for farmed animals, a move I was determined to make in the hopes I would feel like less of a hypocrite. Perhaps ironically, the actual effect was the opposite. I was willing to spend twice as much on smaller portions of meat, in order to feel less bad about the fact that animals were being killed, and probably mistreated, for my food? Maybe it’s just that I was thinking more about the whole thing, but every time I put meat in the shopping trolley, I felt… uncomfortable.

Young woman in a turquoise jumper is knelt on the floor. A golden cocker spaniel has his front paws on her shoulders and is resting his forehead against hers.
Me with one of my dad’s dogs, who likes to hug like this. I love animals, but I don’t want to be accused of being the sort of person who only loves the cute ones. I obviously love the cute ones especially, I mean, look at him!!!

I thought I could accept the fact that I love animals, was aware of the short and painful lives many farmed animals lead and was willing to continue eating meat anyway. I thought I could gloss over the issue of the environmental impact of large scale animal farming, even though I’m deeply concerned about the state of the planet. It’s not like that’s the only area of my life where I do things that aren’t strictly in line with my values. Every time I drive from Manchester to Brighton I know I’m making an environmentally unfriendly choice, but I do it anyway because it’s the most convenient and flexible way for me to make that trip. Given the choice between letting food go off in the fridge or eating it, even though I don’t really want it, I’ll go for the former option more often than I’d like to admit. Because I’m picky about what I feel like eating, and I’d rather just dump the food and pretend that’s the last time I’ll let myself do it. Still, for some reason, my discomfort about the meat industry and my participation in it only grew over time.

I started to plan at least one vegetarian meal a week, although I didn’t make any great statement about it. Partner would ask what we were eating on a given night and I’d say, “Stir-fry… veggie stir-fry…” and wait to see if he’d comment. He didn’t, so I kept going. Then he came home one night after I’d bought some of that ready-cooked chicken for my dinner from Tesco on a very hungry whim and he commented, “Good protein. Not vegetarian, but good protein.” So much for my sneaky vegetarian swaps!

After that, we stopped cooking or eating meat at home. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m not a vegetarian, not properly. Once in a while, usually when getting Chinese takeaway or eating out at a restaurant, I will order something with meat in it. I reckon I currently eat meat something like twice a month, and I anticipate that number shrinking to zero eventually, although I’m not desperately invested in making it happen immediately. I am also experimenting with vegan swaps for cheese and milk, although I’m not sure I’ll ever go fully vegan. At the moment, for me, it’s about taking steps to be truer to the causes I feel are important. Not about being perfectly vegetarian, vegan, zero waste etcetera. I like the quote, which comes from Anne-Marie at The Zero-Waste Chef; “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” I think that applies all over the place, and it’s certainly the philosophy I’ve taken to heart when it comes to my meat-eating.

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Have you experimented with alternative diets or lifestyles? How do you balance staying true to your ethics or values with convenience, or are those things not in conflict for you? Let me know in the comments!

Featured Image of vegetable skewers by RitaE from Pixabay

5 Replies to “Vaguely Vegetarian”

  1. I’m actually trying to introduce more fruits & veggies into my life. I tried red peppers for the first time ever last year & it turns out I really like them. Who knew?! Lol.
    Best of luck to you in your journey & as long as you’re happy with your changes, that’s all that matters. 😊💜

    Like

  2. Yes! My journey to a plant-based vegetarian diet was long and kind of accidental. It’s difficult to be vegetarian where I live (South Korea) but slowly more veggie options are becoming available in restaurants and cafes. Luckily, I also have friends to support me.

    I’m glad you mentioned that Anne-Marie quote; it’s one of my favorites!
    And that wrap looks amazing!

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    1. It’s so important to have people around you who will be supportive, I’m glad your friends are good for that! I never thought my partner would be up for going veggie, but he’s actually got really into it now and I have to say, it makes a massive difference.

      Also, major congrats for going vegetarian in a place without a lot of good options for that! Where I live in England vegetarian and vegan options are everywhere, I don’t know how I’d manage without having all of those to work with!

      Liked by 1 person

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