I am always finding myself saying to friends, when they produce their meaty lunches and hesitate, sweetly asking me if I mind them eating in front of me; ‘oh no, it’s fine! I was raised veggie, I’m not one of those preachy types!’
Which is true. I was raised vegetarian, as was my sister, by our parents who’d made the resolution to change their diets after spending time in India. ‘I’d always admired vegetarians, and supported the rationale for being vegetarian, but felt it was too difficult…then when we went to India, it was so hot that all we wanted to do was eat rice ad drink water. But as we were travelling in India we also went through villages where we saw dead animals hanging up by the roadside…it made a stronger connection, it made us see that it was something we wanted to do,’ says Dad, when I ask. ‘We thought we’d see if we could do it.’ 25 years later, here we are; a family of veggies!
However, I really mustn’t say I’m not a ‘preacher’. Because yes, I will occasionally comment in conversation – only when prompted, or when I’m properly stirred by something – that my personal belief is that it’s wrong to eat animals. Simple as. They are not that different to us, they have brains and hearts and feelings and lives – we shouldn’t feel so superior just because we assert power and govern nations and have the ability to communicate on a broader spectrum; definitely not so superior that we feel no shame in killing them and devouring their remains.
I suppose I say I don’t preach or protest that much because I don’t always feel I have a right to. I was raised like this. I didn’t make a conscious decision, like many others do. I didn’t wake up one day and feel so strongly about animal rights and human wrongdoings that I chose to abstain from eating meat indefinitely. Sure, I was given a choice several times as I grew up; at 12, when I almost ate a sausage at a friend’s birthday party – thinking it was the kind I was used to – my mum said I could eat it if I wanted to. I said no. Then around 14 I was told my body would soon not be able to properly digest meat if I kept on not consuming it, that I’d become more or less intolerant and get violently ill if I did so, and still I said no. My sister was the same. I cannot stress enough – we may have been raised this way, but we were given a choice.
The thing is, being a veggie has always been tough. I imagine it is especially tough when you’ve gone from eating meat regularly to…not at all. But finding replacements for the bulk of your meals, constantly scanning ingredients on the backs of packs and wrappers, having to alert the friends you’re visiting for dinner that they’ll have to rethink the menu – it sucks sometimes. I think these things are just some of many that have kept people from making the change.
But in recent years, however, it has become much easier! I promise! We have Quorn, Linda Mccartney, Cauldron, and more. There’s an exclusively veggie Pret in Soho. Some make-up products are being produced ‘cruelty-free’. People are starting to ‘go veggie’ a few times a week to keep weight off or stop spending too much per week. There are endless websites, just a nifty Google search away, that can tell us what goes in what, who to check out and where to eat that. There are bloggers and vloggers who have books and channels and in some cases restaurants. I am never going to get used to having choices, plural when perusing a menu…
…yes, it’s getting better. It’s getting easier, it’s becoming more accepted. So, give it a go maybe. Try your luck. Surprise yourself! Go green! It’s the best possible time – it’s Veggie Month!
No pressure though, obvs. Take it slow. Mix it up a little to begin with. Add in some leaves. Roast, boil, stir fry, stew. Choose the (v) option on the menu. My #1 tip? Pick and plan – and don’t stress. You got this.