Am I becoming a vegetarian? That’s one question I truly thought I would never be asking myself. I grew up in a working-class family, my earliest memory of my Dad’s job was as a driver for a local farm. I also remember spending Saturdays with him in the truck going to the local abattoir (although we called the slaughterhouse). The meat was a staple of our diet each and every day; the only time I tested the boundaries was copying my sister’s abstention from “boring beef” as we had it every Sunday.
Growing up and into adulthood the thought of not eating meat never crossed my mind. I never looked at vegetarianism in a bad way, I always thought it was a personal choice but not for me. I once worked with a vegan, I shamefully admit that at the time I thought it was really weird. When we started raising our own family we also never questioned our meat intake.
After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis I began to take notice of articles that mentioned the disease. One, in particular, caught my eye and I read it with intrigue. The article in the Telegraph was one about a chef, Seamus Mullen, who “cured” himself of the disease.
This article intrigued me because up until then my research had told me that RA was incurable. Here, though, was a guy claiming to be cured. I read the article over and over, first missing he was still eating meat – just better quality and less. I read other articles that claimed a vegan diet can cure RA too. The thought of going vegan filled me with dread. I decided that taking the weekly dose of poison (Methotrexate) was justified as I could eat “normally”.
But recently I have watched some Netflix documentaries on food and farming. What The Health and Cowspiracy are the two that have really resonated with me and got me really considering my diet. Still, the thought of veganism scares me – probably an irrational fear. But cutting down on how much meat and dairy I east was something that I could do
So what am I doing?
I didn’t actually plan to stop eating meat on certain days of the week or made a conscious decision. I stopped using cows milk at the start of Lent as a challenge to myself for the 40 days. That was the start. I replaced it with oat drink, soya, and almond milk and haven’t missed it. I’ve even been making the girls porridge with it and they are enjoying it as much as ever. Then I discussed with Helen eating less meat and trying some vegetarian dishes a few times a week. At first, she was a little cold on the idea but I think she will warm to it if the food is good.
Recently I managed a 4 days streak of eating no meat at all. This started when we bought a takeaway pizza and I went for the vegetarian calzone. The following day we ate out at Frankie & Benny’s and I opted for the vegetarian options – they were delicious. Then it was the weekly food shop day and I made sure I went heavy on an assortment of vegetables and fruit as well as adding some vegetarian items too. A vegetable stir-fry later and we arrived at Sunday and we were having a roast chicken. I want to try and avoid it, but also wanted to enjoy our Sunday dinner too and, in the end, I went for some stuffed mushrooms to replace the chicken and I loved it.
In addition to the meals mentioned, there were also things like vegan pancakes, taking a selection of mixed nuts and dried fruit as a snack to work and eating more fruit. I was finding it all quite easy really and not missing meat at all.
I also felt much better about myself and more energised too. Helen thought this improve self- feeling was a psychological mind trick but I really believe those few days of meat-less diet really did improve my body. There were also things in the bathroom that gave away that my body was detoxing too!
Running and exercise were a worry. But, ensuring I could get the protein and energy I needed didn’t seem like an issue. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan athletes that prove that a meat-free diet is not an issue for them. In fact, Scott Jurek’s book was a great read and one of the early pieces of text that got me thinking along this path. I thought that if this guy can run 100 plus miles on a plant-based diet then surely I could make some changes too. This is an area I will be doing far more research into.
Will I become vegetarian?
Given that I fell off the vegetarian wagon so easily on day five probably means that for the time being the answer is no. What did I do? I ate a chicken, chorizo and king prawn paella. That’s some way to fall off the wagon eh? Plus it was a ready-meal too, so ticked all the processed food boxes in one go.
I felt guilty but I have to be practical and work on this a day at a time. For now, I have talked to Helen and I am aiming to alternate meet-fee days. I will continue to avoid milk though and cut down on dairy in general. Considering I am a self-proclaimed cheese addict this could be somewhat tricky.
For now, my journey will begin with intermittent vegetarianism with some vegan day possibly coming by as well. I am sure it will be challenging but I am also looking forward to discovering new recipes and see the effect on my body. Subscribe to my blog to follow my journey.
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