First off, let me just state that this is my (recent) story and experience of becoming plant-based, and nothing more. It is not an attempt to shame or judge or force you to change your own lifestyle. You do you. What works for me may not work for you. And what works for me now may not work for me in a years time, or 10 years time. Cutting out meat and/or dairy just isn’t an option for everyone. But cutting down is. As is buying locally and ethically sourced products. Know where your food comes from. Support local farmers. Consider having one or two meat free days during the week. Just do your best!
I decided to become vegetarian on October 24th 2016. This was a ridiculously easy decision for me, albeit an overdue one.
I would always have picked the vegetarian option when eating out and mostly cooked veggie meals if I was only catering for myself. Laziness was the only obstacle in my way, I ate chicken for convenience and only ate red meat when my mum made her yummy lasagne. Bacon and black pudding were more difficult to say bye to but I didn’t eat them regularly anyways. I was already trying to reduce my plastic consumption for environmental reasons so it made sense to reduce my meat consumption also.
Some of the environmental impacts of unsustainable farming include:
- Deforestation and habitat loss
- Air and water pollution
- Climate change
- Soil erosion
The next step
When I began working in Sydney in April 2017 I decided eating dairy completely contradicted my reasons for becoming vegetarian and so I took the next step. I was going to attempt to avoid dairy. Well. This wasn’t easy at all. I love pastry and cake – I’m not a monster. I’ve had so many fall backs from forgetting to ask for non-dairy milk when ordering coffee to just plain refusing anything but real ice cream when hungover. It’s still early days for me. I know it’s not going to be easy but I think the best thing to do is remind yourself of why you’re doing it. The ice cream wasn’t even that good anyways. But don’t tempt me with a croissant..
Why I’m staying
Although my concerns for the environment led me down this path it is no longer the only factor keeping me on it. After having my eyes opened by different documentaries and articles on the internet, my compassion for animals has grown greatly. I can now declare I’m an animal lover without anyone arguing otherwise. I’m also a lot more aware of the effects that meat and dairy can have on our bodies, from causing skin problems to causing digestion problems, and if I can avoid those then that’s great.
The good and the bad of switching to a plant based diet
Let’s start with some bad points, it’s always good to finish on a positive..
- Feeling unwell – initially, that is. For the first 2 weeks of cutting out meat (not dairy) I was extremely lightheaded. At first I thought this was a coincidence. Clever, right? I now think it was related to the decrease in calories. I soon fixed this by eating more. Hang on, maybe this isn’t a negative.. Note to self – do your homework before drastically changing your diet. That’s a life lesson right there.
- Social Awkwardness – “let’s go get food, I know a great place!” *quickly checks menu* “nope.”
- More dishes – Ugh. Unless you’re just cooking for yourself or people with the same diet as you, this is just annoying.
- Having to check the labels on everrrrrything – NON DAIRY. Yes! CONTAINS EGGS. *Sigh*
- Finding out things you thought were vegan actually aren’t – So apparently a lot of red dyes contain crushed insects. Yeah, I know..
Okay, that’s enough of that. Now to think of some good points..
- The obvious – you have your reasons I’m sure. The animals. The Environment. Your health. Etc.
- More variety – there are sooo many vegetables, I don’t even recognise half the ones being sold at the farmers market. Not that this variety wasn’t available before, but still! And there is no longer only one choice of milk. It’s nice to have the options..
- The challenge – last week I made stuffed aubergine. I don’t think I’d even cooked an aubergine until recently but I’m trying a lot more new recipes now! It’s also a challenge finding somewhere to cater for you when eating out, but this isn’t always a bad thing, it’s good to try new places. Sometimes I think of it as a game.. to avoid frustration..
There are obviously a lot more advantages and disadvantages but these are just the ones I’ve noticed from my own experience so far, everyone is different.
I’d love to know what everyone else’s experience has been like!