Yes lads and lasses, you read that title right: I, the self-proclaimed chicken nugget queen and girl who once had a reputation at work for eating pork pie for breakfast (one time might I add, but some reps just stick with you), have stopped eating meat. It was a change I’d been slo-o-o-wly moving towards for a while, but for the last couple of months I’ve gone cold tofu and kicked my meat habit.
Okay, I can almost hear the eye-rolls from here. But I’ll kick off by saying that this isn’t intended to be a preachy post where I try to urge you all to start milking almonds – instead, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve noticed since making the change from meat-eater to things-that-are-shaped-like-meat-eater.
People will ask you why. A LOT.
I’m probably completely re-writing my own history here, but as far as I can remember I don’t think I ever really used to ask my vegetarian friends why they were vegetarians. However, it’s something that I now find that people ask you. A LOT.
And if you’re anything like me (e.g. the type of person who will wake up in a cold sweat wondering whether that thing I said to that person three years ago came out wrong), you might struggle on what answer to give that doesn’t sound like you’re passing judgement on the person asking, OR being a preachy twit. So far I just seem to mumble something about liking animals in a fashion not too dissimilar to the I Like Turtles boy, unless I’m a bit drunk, because then I’ll just shout “WOULD YOU EAT YOUR DOG? THEN WHY ARE YOU EATING A COW? TORY.” Smooth. As. Ever.
Turning veggie is not a one-way ticket to Absville.
I very naively thought that once I wasn’t inhaling cocktail sausages at every buffet, the weight would drop off me and I’d quickly become all thin and boho – kind of like an Olsen sister (not sure if they’re veggie but they definitely look the sort). What I hadn’t accounted for was the fact that the main substitute for meat at nearly every restaurant is cheese. So much cheese, so often deep-fried. Farewell waistline…
You start to question the ethics of everything.
Bloody hell, it’s a slippery slope when you start doing things out of ‘principle’ you know. Because it turns out there are loads of principles and ethics we should be worrying about.
Not long after cutting out meat I started to worry about eating so much cheese considering the things you hear about dairy farming, and then I started thinking about the leather uppers on my trainers and whether I should try to make some running shoes out of hemp instead, and then I ended up googling whether my feather pillows were likely to be made with ethically-sourced feathers, and then I started thinking that if I’m going to worry about geese so much I should really start looking into where the hell my clothes are made and how many children are being exploited so I can wear a chunky knit AND THEN my head imploded for all of the ethical stuff I feel obliged to think about now and I was really tempted to pick up some chicken nugs to calm myself down.
You’ll never be ‘vegetarian enough’ for some people.
Related to the above, I have found that there are people (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian) who seem to enjoy pointing out the hypocrisies of your lifestyle, whatever they deem those to be. They’ll ask why you don’t eat meat but still wear leather, or eat eggs, or use makeup that isn’t cruelty-free.
And while they’re all valid points, my attitude is that every step towards living more ‘ethically’ or whatever you want to call it is a good one, and getting all Militant Vegan about it doesn’t endear anyone to the cause. Ultimately, it’s YOUR life and you should be able to do things at your own pace. I mean, I’ve already given up my beloved nugs, can I not have just a few more months with my fave MAC lipstick?!
Restaurants are very hit and miss with their veggie options.
One of my best friends has been vegetarian for years, and I was used to seeing her always have to order the trusty veggie burger whenever we went out for dinner. Howevs, I think in the last few years a lot of restaurants are getting better with their meat-free offerings, with some places I’ve been to lately offering five or six different options for vegetarians. Of course there are still others where your only option is a burger or plate of leaves. Que sera.
But Quorn is actually tasty AF.
Seriously, I have been SO pleasantly surprised with the veggie options available at the supermarket. From the usual quorn sausages and mince to the unexpected pies and chicken dippers, the meat substitutes have got it going on. Now, if Linda McCartney could just look into meat-free pork pies I would be set…
If you’re struggling to find something to eat, it’s helpful to remember that it could be worse…
After all, you could be vegan. I actually have mad respect for vegans so no shade intended, but seriously, what do they eat?! As I’m tucking into my third course of cheese this Christmas, I’ll just think ‘at least it’s not another friggin’ nut’.
If you have any thoughts on turning vegetarian or what you learned along the way, leave them in the comments!