When I was about 10 I read a magazine article about Dannii Minogue being vegetarian, and, being a fan girl (I was always team Dannii, she seemed so much cooler and edgier than Kylie) I decided, much to my Mums dismay, that I was going to be a vegetarian.
I think, even then, I was able to make a good play on words, because I took the term vegetarian and I made it my own. What it really meant was, I didn’t eat anything other than chicken and fish. Chicken because my Mum was worried I would fade away into nothing (that was never a possibility) and fish was just thrown in for good measure because I’m pretty sure nothing other than a fish finger would pass my lips when I was a kid.
Still. There were no cows, pigs or lambs making their way onto my plate for a good 7 years. Until I met TAG and he introduced me to the wonders of a Big Mac. Buy one get one free, Croydon town, probably hungover.
I can still hear my Mum now, shouting about all the years I passed up on her dinners only to be turned by a “bloody Big Mac!?!!”
Slowly, over the years, I’ve found myself eating more and more meat. TAG himself admits that he gets very arsey if he doesn’t have meat in his meals. Something to do with being a (cave)man and needing to eat all the animals.
When I had kids and I explained that, yes, those chickens we saw at the farm are indeed the same animal as what we’re eating right now, it hit a nerve.
When I started to realise that rearing animals for food meant a massive amount of land, energy and water consumption, it hit a nerve.
When I learnt that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouses gases than all the world’s transportation systems combined, it hit a nerve.
But, it wasn’t until I sat down to watch Game Changers that those nerves went from being gently tapped, to being smashed with a giant, meat eating hammer and I started to think about what I was consuming.
If you haven’t watched the Netflix documentary and you’re considering going vegan, or even veggie, then maybe give it a go. TAG decided to watch it one day and I told him I wasn’t interested, I knew what I was doing but I wasn’t prepared to change it thank you very much, but he has a good way of relaying things to me in a way that I want to listen to, so hearing him talk about the benefits of a plant based diet and dumping the meat (why does any sentence involving the word meat make me snigger like an embarrassed teenager?) made me take a couple of hours out of my busy Saturday afternoon and do me some learning.
I’m good at quitting stuff. I’ve given up smoking, I’ve given up dieting and I’ve finally given up giving a shit what other people think of me. But, despite being ‘veggie’ all those years ago, I didn’t want to give up my steak & dairy.
But. The more I watched, the more I knew. The more I realised that I needed to make a change. OK, two people giving up their cheese burgers isn’t going to make a dent in the global damage the meat industry has caused, but, imagine if two people in every single house cut out meat based produce, even for just half of the week.
The problem is it’s not that easy to become vegan. There is a level of organisation and sacrifice that I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to. Not just yet anyway. I’ve just got myself out of the dieting mindset of restriction, I’m not going to throw myself right into another shit-show of a food plan.
The funny thing is, I don’t even like dairy that much. Sure, give me all the chocolate on a Saturday night and as much cheese as possible at Christmas But find me a milk replacement for tea and I’ll bet you my M&M’s you can’t. It’s nigh on impossible! And I challenge anyone to tell me otherwise.
FYI, no, black tea does not cut it. It takes a special kind of person to drink their tea without milk and sugar, they’re rare and should be cherished!
I don’t want to be the woman who can’t have a cup of tea because oat milk tastes like shit and don’t even get me started on almonds. But I do want to be the woman who sets a good example to her kids, who eats mostly plant based ingredients because they’re better for her and better for the planet. I want to be the woman who actually does something rather than talks about doing it, because those people get right up my nose.
Those steaks might taste good, but not as good as being alive tastes. You know what I mean.
So, I’ve stopped eating meat. I’m going to try and stop eating chicken too. (For some reason this feels harder) and I’m going to stick to dairy free coffee from now on.
But I will still eat fish when I’m out. Wagamama for example, my delicious noodles that I could eat all day everyday are just not the same with tofu. No matter how it’s cooked. Give me a piece of responsibly sourced salmon over, I don’t actually know where tofu comes from, any day.
Until I find the holy grail of milk substitution for tea, I will keep having it as my morning brew but I’m going to cut it down to 1 a day and stick with hot honey and lemon the rest of the time. See, I’m practically there already.
I still suffer with IBS, and on bad days there are things I can’t even look at, never mind eat so I don’t want to back myself into a permanent corner, never to leave it again. I can only do my best right now.
And that’s not a bad way to start. Do your best, until you know better. Then do better. This is me starting to know better.
For now, I’m a pescatarian, with an aim to moving slowly to becoming a part time vegan. Maybe.
I know that news will evoke a whole load of eye rolling, tutting and laughter among some people. And that’s fine. I know I’m doing it for the right reasons and it will help, both my health (hello high blood pressure) and the future of the planet. Kind of a big thing that. What’s the point in banging on about recycling if you’re shoving your plastic wrapped meat in the bin at the same time?
I want to make a positive change, to make a difference, no matter how small. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. Being 90% veggie is better than being 90% not.
And I’m a whole load more vegan than I was last month, small steps or not. We all need to start somewhere.