In June this year I went on a yoga teacher training intensive course for a week in Bulgaria and it was of course, meat (and alcohol) free for the 7 days we were all there. Upon my return to the UK, after thinking every day about what I would have for my first meal back home, how much meat I would consume once I was ‘allowed’, I arrived at my house, dropped off my bags and went straight over to my local pub and ordered the only thing I fancied from the menu; a vegetable lasagne!
I didn’t know then that I wouldn’t eat meat again. The next day I had a miniature ham roll from M&S in my lunch but I only couldn’t bring myself to eat it. It was like my body had decided it had quite enjoyed this week off consuming meat and I had completely lost my appetite for it.
Now, do understand that the day before I went to Bulgaria, I went to a popular restaurant that is a favourite among local carnivores and had an entire rack of ribs to myself, completely putting my friend to shame in his efforts. I openly admit and hold my hands up that I was a huge meat eater beforehand.
After much research, and many people’s first comment being ‘but where will you get your protein’ or ‘make sure you get enough iron’, I discovered so many wonderful recipes and I have to say, I’ve not eaten such a varied diet in my life, full of colours and flavours and completely inspiring. I’m stronger and leaner and although it’d be easy to live on bread and potatoes (chips are vegetarian friendly after all!) if you’re sensible about it and put just a little effort in, you’ll thrive.
Interestingly, the people first to jump up with these ‘concerns’ have many, many health issues that they should probably address before they look at my own choices. No-one cares about your protein until they find out you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
Consuming a mostly plant based diet also ties in with my strong belief that food is all the medicine you need, and that you can cure or prevent almost any health issue with the right balance of nutrients. There is masses of scientific evidence to support this, it’s just not made readily available to us. If you can, watch Food Matters on Netflix, it’s an eye opener to food and health. Education over Medication as they say.
Yes I understand that our bodies are equipped to consume meat (I can hear you saying things like ‘canines’ and ‘the cavemen’ etc etc), but the quantity that we consume compared to those cavemen makes that a moot point, it’s not about survival but plain greed, and the fact is that we can thrive without it. The sheer over-indulgence of human beings is leading to over consumption, and in turn some serious health issues and that’s without even touching on how it’s damaging our planet.
If I’ve not lost you yet, the environmental impact of animal agriculture really is alarming. I’d be here all day if I went into it but again, if you have a spare couple of hours, I would really recommend that you watch Cowspiracy, it’s really very informative and interesting and is also currently showing on Netflix (and it’s exec produced by Leonardo DiCaprio – if that spersuades you at all??).
(I can promise you that these two documentaries are not full of graphic content of animal cruelty or abuse, there is a small scene in Cowspiracy of a duck meeting a gruesome end but if you are sensitive to this then you can close your eyes like I did!)
I would say after some time living this lifestyle, my reason for deciding not to consume meat comes down to Compassion. Compassion for the animals, for other humans, and for our planet, which houses both. It’s also yoga philosophy to not cause harm, to others and to yourself, and to have compassion for all living things. If you also factor in Karma, that’s a whole new subject.
My teacher once said to me that eating meat was ingesting second hand Prana (life force), and I didn’t understand that until now. I also believe that if that animal was miserable it’s life or even just the moments of confusion and stress on its way to slaughter, that those negative emotions and energies are transferred into the meat, and then ingested by us. I could go on and get all graphic and dramatic on you, but I won’t.
The more days that go by, the more I’m drawn into the lifestyle. The better my body feels, the more deterred I am from eating animal products. I haven’t gone as far as a vegan lifestyle, but I have made small changes; I have almond milk in my oats and where available in my coffee, and I use coconut oil or avocado on my toast rather than butter. I do still eat eggs but where possible they’re from friends who keep hens or ducks of their own at home following a minor break down in front of the eggs Sainsburys one day.
My views on diet and lifestyle mean I don’t actually consume much processed food / sugar anyway, I try to keep my food as natural as possible and minimal on the ingredients in packaged goods, so cakes and milk chocolates aren’t an issue for me, although I do have to say that cravings for these types of foods has reduced dramatically since cutting out meat! This does mean I don’t have meat replacement products such as Quorn (I have trust issues with Quorn mince!) or veggie sausages etc either if I can avoid it, I will.
So there you have it, no major life changing ‘moment’, no brainwashing with all of these animal cruelty videos and websites (although I have watched some since making the change and they do only cement the decision) and no preaching – if we go out for dinner and you order a steak or fancy a sausage roll in my company I won’t pull my face (contrary to one or two people’s belief) or harp on about animal cruelty, hand on heart. This is a personal decision and journey, one that I am passionate about but it’s not a requirement to be a vegetarian to be in my life.
If you made it this far then thank you for reading!