Friday, 15 July 2011

Eating Vegetarian/Vegan

(I know, I know, but we just got Band Hero and this is my favourite to sing)

Whilst this is primarily going to be a fashion-y type blog, what I eat is a pretty huge part of my life, so I just wanted to share a little bit about it, and what it's like eating a semi-vegan diet at home and eating out, and recommend some places to eat in the Leeds/York area. It's not going to be a preachy you-must-stop-eating-meat-and-dairy post, and I'm not going to get too graphic on the reasons why I don't, so don't worry about that.

(An example of one of my vegan lunches - so tasty)

My mother has been 'vegetarian' for going on 25/30 years (loose term, and I do understand the different labels, she eats fish, and ethically sourced meat occasionally, but she was always just a vegetarian to us growing up), and for quite a while, my brothers, father and I ate no meat, because she cooked no meat. As we grew up and learnt to cook and stuff, we introduced meat into out diets, but still not on a huge scale. I made the choice when I was about 11 to stop eating meat again, for reasons I can't remember, and that lastest a few years. Then I was a vegetarian who ate sausages... And well, it all just spiraled a bit until I was a fully fledged meat-lover again.

I left home to go to university in the autumn of 2007 and I last ate meat in January 2008 (apart from this one hamburger once, which we won't go into right now, suffice to say I didn't enjoy it). The reasons for me stopping eating meat are and were multiple. It's not just a case of 'oh-the-poor-little-animals', although animal welfare is important to me, and the meat and dairy industries having appalling levels and practices of care. The primary, totally selfish reason was that since I was now buying my own food, I couldn't afford the quality of meat that I was used to, and found it totally unappealing, so I thought, I won't bother buying this cheap, nasty stuff, I'll wait until I can afford nicer tasting, and more ethical meat. Another reason was that this was the time I met my now-husband, who was a pescetarian (ate fish) at the time - don't get me wrong, I didn't do it to impress him, but talking to him about it definitely changed my point of view somewhat.

My course at university definitely had a lot to do with it as well. When you learn about water scarcity and land management and sustainable food practices, it kind of changes your viewpoint. As I said, my primary objection to eating meat isn't the standard ethical thing, nor is it how disgustingly unhealthy/bad for your body meat and dairy products are (seriously, they turn my stomach now with how rich and greasy they are), but it's one of simple economics which I feel, with no offence to other vegetarians and vegans, is much more valid an argument. It's not about emotions or choices, it's just simple logical fact which I find very hard to argue with. I'll try and explain it super simply (not to be patronising, just to give you an overview), although it goes so much deeper than this, obviously.

There are a finite amount of natural resources on our planet, in the context of food production; water, non-renewable energy, viable land etc, an amount which is rapidly decreasing due to over consumption. And the simple fact is, it takes about 7 times as much carbon (I think it's carbon, don't quote me) to make a unit of meat products as it does a grain or a vegetable. It is an inefficient allocation of resources (can you tell I studied economics?), simple as that.

I still eat a little bit of cheese, which, yes, does still contradict my ideals/beliefs, but in cutting back completely on meat and significantly on dairy, I still believe it makes a difference. It's not really about abstaining but moderation (I would eat a little bit of meat if I wanted to, but I've lost my taste for it now, so I physically couldn't).

I'm sure that's not going to turn you all veggie, and that's fine, I don't really have a problem with people eating meat - although society as a whole definitely needs to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy, for environmental and health reasons - but I just wanted to give you some insight into my choices and reasons behind that.

I'll recommend some dining establishments in another post as this has got way too long and waffle-y! Thanks for sticking with me and feel free to comment with your thoughts.

P.S. Just to preempt a question veggies get a lot - I used to sometimes crave the saltiness of bacon, but not the texture or anything, but I think that was more a taste association because it's faded as the years have gone by. I've been a veggie now for 3 and a half years.

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