Watch out peops, today I’m come at’cha with a preach. You’re wrong, I’m right. You’re bad, I’m good. Got it? Good, let’s go. Actually, of course I’m not preaching to anyone but I’m so desperate to get some thoughts down on the virtual paper that hopefully you’ll be ok with me sharing how I’m feeling and perhaps let me know what you think.
This is a kind of personal post to write. For some time now I’ve been feeling unsettled but haven’t really been able to pinpoint why. Some of it has come through blogging and as much as I adore the online life and feel inspired and motivated on a daily basis, it bothers me no end that it also perpetuates a throw-away, fast, mindless consumerism culture. Yes, it’s most bloggers dreams to be able to collaborate with brands, but at what cost?
But I realise the struggle is within me. I’m the hypocrite. The person who loves animals SO MUCH (and yes, more than people) yet thinks it’s ok to eat eggs. Or fish. Or have milk in my tea. The person who closes her mind to animal suffering when it doesn’t suit her. I’m so angry at myself – not the world you see, because there’s nothing I can do about that, but at me. Now is A Time For Change.
Growing up in the 80’s, meat was standard fare. As a family we probably ate meat with dinner at least 5 nights out of 7. Spaghetti, curries, roast dinners. Chilli, pork chops, chicken kievs. I still ate meat when I first moved to London but was horribly poor, living by myself in a studio flat in Central London having to find £700 a month rent with huge student debts and only earning £15,000 a year. So not only did I eat meat, but the cheapest, worst quality meat. Let’s not even question how that ends up in the supermarkets.
Then I read an article in a newspaper. It was probably incendiary, it may not even have been true. I never tell people what was in that article, but I’m going to here. It explained how a certain type of fur coat was made using lamb skin, but before the lambs were born gave the softest fleece. So a few days before the ewes were to give birth, they’d have their stomachs slit open and the lambs would be skinned.
I never ate red meat again and still don’t, it’s been around 15 years now. For a time I also gave up eating chicken and turkey, but went back to that about 4 years ago because the doctors advised I needed more protein in my diet and for some reason it didn’t occur to me to get that protein from elsewhere. The real weakness though for me is dairy. Natural yoghurt, cheese, eggs. Chocolate in all guises. A gluten-intolerance (not a fad, I wouldn’t wish the suffering I experienced on anyone) means that my diet already feels very restricted.
Yet as the years pass, I cannot justify my impact on the planet. My existence is far from perfect – we love to travel and own a house in London, a city that makes me feel alive but is of course heavily polluted. We’re getting a new car in the summer because our current one is about 18 years old and falling apart. So you see, perfection isn’t something to be strived towards because it doesn’t exist. But little changes are always possible.
So veganism is where my current thoughts lie. Since giving up so much to go gluten-free, I’ve learned to eat a more creative and healthy diet anyway. For the most part. We started using almond milk about a year ago when Pete went through a health-kick and never went back and there will never be anything wrong with eating less chocolate. Is it sustainable? Who knows. It won’t be an overnight change but gradually little by little I want to make the difference.
There is one standout runaway winning element to all of this. The online support. Having tentatively tweeted in search of vegan blogs a couple of days ago I’ve been literally inundated and these blogs are written by people I immediately want to go for a drink with. They are funny and compassionate, creative and interesting. It’s exciting and scary, but most of all A Time For Change. Fingers crossed!
Well done Lins, I watched a film called “Terra” last November (it’s still available on Netflix but you will need a whole box of tissues at the ready) that had a similar effect on me. I haven’t eaten any meat (red or white) since that day. I am classing myself as a Pescatarian at present as I still eat fish, eggs, milk etc as I’m like you and need the protein but it doesn’t bode particularly well with me either 🙁 I may move away from those also eventually, but for the moment the move away from meat & the life changing effect that movie had on me are enough to ease my conscience slightly. Good luck and best wishes with your new life, and don’t worry about preaching, eventually we’ll all need to go this direction as we are all living such an un-sustainable lives at present. x x x
Thank you so much Aileen for your supportive words. On your recommendation I started watching Terra earlier today. I’ll need to finish it another day because I just found it too much. I agree that sometimes it’s small steps and if everyone made one small change, even going vegetarian or vegan just one day a week, that would already be such a huge step. Sadly though, too many people are all about what suits them, rather than the planet Xx
Good luck, Lins. I’m also exactly where you are after 21 years of eating a pescetarian diet. I’ve already cut down my milk and cheese consumption and have upped the number of vegetarian meals we eat each week (including limiting my meat-free alternative meals). I feel as if I’m dipping my toe in vegan waters and the two things keeping one foot ashore is my deep and everlasting love for chocolate (!) and the fear of how my husband and family will react if I proudly claim to be a vegan. So, for now at least, I’ll keep my toes dipped in and hopefully one day I can submerge myself without my husband and family batting an eye 🙂 xx
I think dipping your toe is absolutely brilliant! I’ve already faced the cross examination from my colleagues and it’s funny how people get so defensive on your behalf, angry almost. Like you’re doing something to offend them? I think any small changes are fantastic and as you say, you eat a mostly vegetarian diet anyway which is great. Keep it up, I’m sure one day in the future it will just be so normal Xx
One of my brothers is vegetarian and the other is vegan. Since both spend varying amounts of time living at home, I have also found myself eating a lot more vegan food, and trying to make their meals more interesting and nutritious (at uni as a vegan he lived off mushy peas and curly fries!) which is actually quite fun for someone that loves cooking! I think environmentally, there is a lot we can all do to cut down our meat consumption, even if it’s just one day a week at a time! Alice xxx
Alice you’re so right – if everyone even took just one baby step such as going meat free once a week, imagine the difference it would make! I have to confess that I’m not a natural cook but need to be now as there’s so little I can eat so it’s high time to turn over a new leaf Xx