I stopped eating meat and this is what I noticed

On January 18th this year, I cut meat and fish out of my diet. One squicky moment involving a slow-cooker and a whole chicken and that was that – but there are consequences, of course. WARNING: this could get ranty.

In many ways it was an easy decision for me:

  • I really quite like animals and felt like a bit of a hypocrite
  • My boyfriend is too, and it would save us having separate trays/pans/etc
  • I’ve been meaning to try it for a while
  • Raw meat is a bit gross

Plenty of people I know are vegetarians/pescatarians/vegans, so it didn’t seem like a big deal at all. Still, there are some things I’ve encountered that have come as a bit of a surprise – so it seemed only appropriate to document it during National Vegetarian Week.

 

Everyone has a goddamn opinion

As a meat-eater for 24 years, my diet was fairly average. Just your usual fare – no real interest taken. As a non-meat-eater for 4 months, my diet has been scrutinised more times than the past 24 years.

First there’s the ‘Oh you’re one of those’ – and then, my favourite, the judgment. Vegetarians and vegans seem to have this reputation for being preachy. Now, while I don’t doubt that might be true for some people, I have never been lectured more about diet than I have by my meat-eating friends.

They are keen to tell me that I must eat meat to get all the nutrients and vitamins I need, and like, humans have to eat meat to like, survive. And plants are alive too lololololololol.

Bravo, so clever. Now tell me before I rip apart that theory – since plenty of meat-eaters don’t have a balanced diet – why should I have to defend and justify my dietary choices to anyone?

 

Quite a generous helping of hypocrisy

Okay so, the best bit is when you get asked if you’re a ‘proper’ vegetarian. This usually starts with a ‘Do you eat chicken or fish?’

LOL NO. They are animals.

Then we start drilling down. I field more stupid questions until we get to cheese. The person who just asked me whether I eat meat now becomes an expert.

“That means you can’t have parmesan. Or pesto. Or anything like that. Because it has animal by-products in.”

That is true – and this is where things get murky. Google will tell you this:

Screenshot of Google's definition of 'Vegetarian'

Which technically means I’m a vegetarian. However, to be approved by the Vegetarian Society, no food can have mammal, bird, fish, crustacean or by-products of such animals. Which technically makes me a ‘non meat-eater’. So whatever man. Either way, I don’t eat meat. One step at a time – I think my mum would flip her lid if I went vegan overnight.

EVEN SO, the point is that these people giving me the third degree about my diet and what I’m allowed to call myself are the people who started by asking me if I eat certain types of meat and proceed to tell me they could never give it up themselves.

Then how about we take a second to chill about my dietary preferences for a sec?

I realise I probably started sounding like ‘that guy’ – and conforming to the ‘preachy’ stereotype – about 10 minutes ago, but honestly, defending personal decisions is super irritating.

 

Restaurants need to up their non-meat game

I’ll keep this short. I am not going to pay £12 for penne arrabiata. It’s boring af and I can make it at home. Sort 👏 it 👏 out 👏.

Shout out to the Mexican restaurants who know what’s up. You will always get my vote.

 

People really want a reason

In the last few months, I’ve really bothered a few people by not having a single, solid reason for my diet change. If you don’t fit neatly into either animal cruelty, environmental impact, or health benefits, then this can be quite traumatic for the person you’re talking to.

“But… why would you do it then?!”

Because I damn well feel like it.

And another thing: it’s really weird to take such a granular interest in someone’s diet. Take some advice from this guy:

 

“What do you eat?”

I can’t even talk about this without sounding like I’m being a dick, so I’m just going to leave this here:

 

In all seriousness…

If you’ve been toying with the idea of trialling a vegetarian diet, the National Vegetarian Society has a whole campaign site right now with lots of great recipes. I’d thoroughly recommend giving it a try – I haven’t made any promises to myself (or anyone else) that this is for life, but I’m glad I’m doing it anyway.

…Although I appreciate I might not have really sold the idea 😂. Still, don’t let a few silly/occasionally WTF questions now and again, stop you doing what you wanna do. And if nothing else, please just be nice to your veggie friends.

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