*This mouthwatering, greasy pile of burgery goodness is actually vegetarian!
At the start of January I made a major lifestyle change and declared myself a vegetarian. Being a sort of food blogger and all-round food lover, it was a big change to make as I was essentially cutting down a lot of my options. The idea of vegetarianism was something that had played on my mind for a long time and a few months ago, I decided that once Christmas was over I was going to dedicate myself fully to quitting meat. I actually decided to take that whole 'new year, new me' shit seriously, so sue me.
Disclaimer: This isn't an attack towards meat-eaters, but this is my blog and I'll say whatever the fuck I want regarding my own opinion. It isn't a post that's preaching that you should change (but if you do, then that's bloody great), but it's simply a rundown of why I decided to change my diet.
When you let the world know that you've suddenly switched to a vegetarian diet, the main question you're asked over and over again is "Why?", so hopefully this clears up why I've decided to ditch meat, eggs and some dairy products.
I don't want to eat animals anymore.
To put it quite bluntly, I really didn't want to be consuming animals anymore. I've always been an animal lover and have always spoken actively about animal rights. I made the decision to switch out all of my cosmetics for cruelty-free last year and cutting animal products out of my diet was the next natural step.
Eating them whilst preaching animal rights just didn't quite sit right with me and I felt like a hypocrite every time I signed a petition or tweeted an article relating to animal welfare. During my teenage years, my family even used to rescue and re-home abandoned dogs and yet I was still eating other living creatures on a daily basis. I'm not saying that you can't love animals as a meat-eater, because you can; you can eat a beef burger and still love your family dog more than most humans. However when I was eating meat I was being selective about which animals I loved, despite never wanting to admit that at the time. For example, the thought of eating dog or cat meat has always absolutely repulsed me, but I then spent most years not hesitating before biting into the flesh of a cow covered in cheese.
At the start of last year, I started to realise that I didn't want to put one animal's welfare before another's just because I choosing to be naive to what I was eating. It was selective and it was selfish. Time after time, I'd make the excuse that I didn't like to think about where the meat had come from when I was eating it, but in all honesty, that was just plain ignorance. The question "Why is eating an innocent cow, lamb or chicken any more ethical than eating a family pet?" kept popping into my mind. I think deep down we all know, it really isn't any more ethical at all; all animals feel pain and no animal wants to die whether it be a cow or a cat. I just couldn't shake the thought of eating one of my beloved pets and that really was the tipping point for me.
Of course, you can still be an animal activist and a meat-eater, but personally I wanted to devote myself to animals as much as possible. I mean, they deserve it because they're the best.
You know what? I can honestly say I feel so much better in my body and mind now that I'm not eating living creatures. I can't describe it and it sounds cheesy, but there's a certain peace within your mind that falls into place once you've made the decision to steer clear of meat.
I want to lower my carbon footprint.
Another issue I have preached over the years is how secondhand and sustainable shopping can help lower our carbon footprint, and effectively save the planet we're ruining as humans. However, whilst shopping secondhand more often can still help with lowering your carbon footprint (and you should definitely still do this!), animal agriculture is actually the biggest culprit when it comes to emitting greenhouse gases.
I educated myself on the animal agriculture system and exactly how it's killing and polluting the planet at an absolutely terrifying rate simply because of the demand for animal products. I made the independent decision that I no longer wanted contribute towards that demand. I'm not going to sit here and try to piece together an eloquent piece and inspirational piece with facts and figures, because there's a ton of really great, informative websites out there including here and here.
If you want a better understanding of the effect that the meat, dairy and egg industry is having on the planet then I highly recommend watching Cowspiracy on Netflix.
It's a stepping stone to veganism.
Eventually, I would like to take the next step to a vegan diet and lifestyle. At the moment I'm not eating any meat (including fish, because fish are still animals and fishing is not sustainable in the slightest), nor am I cooking with eggs and I'm not eating the majority of dairy products. The only animal products I'm eating right now is cheese, chocolate and vegetarian ready meals with milk powder or egg already in. I quit milk a long, long time ago because I've always been grossed out by it.
If I had gone straight to a vegan diet, the likelihood is that I probably would have failed by now. Some people can successfully switch straight over to a vegan diet, but I've decided to ease myself towards the change. It may take months or it may take years, but in the meantime I'm not actually eating other animals, which was the major issue for me to tackle.
Do I miss meat?
Not in the slightest.
I'm not going to lie, but I absolutely loved the taste of meat. It was no secret that I really, really liked burgers, but I haven't missed them at all. There are plenty of great meat alternatives out there (you haven't lived until you've tried a Linda McCartney mozzarella burger, seriously), which can keep the meat cravings at bay if you do struggle. I visited my all-time favourite burger joint, 7-Bone, a few days ago and I was so involved in my deep-fried BBQ halloumi burger that I didn't even eye up anyone else's beef burgers!
I'm not going to segregate myself from meat-eaters and I'm not intending to attack people for their own personal decisions. However, I'll always be on hand to help and talk to people who are interested in transitioning to veggie life. I'm even happy to speak to meat-eaters with no intention of switching over their diet, because now I've informed myself I think it's important everyone is aware of what they're eating.
I'm only six weeks into this transition and I already know it's a change that's for the better - for me, for animals and for the planet. Once again I know it sounds hella cheesy, but it feels bloody great.