I am considering becoming a vegetarian.
I say considering because I know I am not suddenly going to stop eating meat. The truth is eating meat is an ingrained habit after 46 years and as we all know changing habits of a lifetime can be difficult.
The reason I want to become a vegetarian is because I do not want to be the reason an animal is killed. When I was talking to a friend on Tuesday about this, I stated my reason as I do not want to be responsible for the suffering of an animal. He advised me that if the animals are killed correctly they don’t suffer. Personally, I am not convinced of that, not even close. Either way if seemed fit to revise my statement.
My problem is I like the taste of meat. It is purely an ethical and moral issue on my part, that I want to change my diet, which to be honest makes giving up meat even harder. If I hated the taste, it would be easy.
I am not sure if it’s just me (so I hope I don’t sound stupid saying this) but it has become normal for me to disconnect between the cling wrapped packages of stir fry beef I pick up the supermarket. Somehow in my mind, I don’t make the connection, or perhaps simply prefer to ignore it, that I am eating dead cow. This is the very reason, I cannot walk into an actual butcher shop. The sights and smells make me feel slightly ill. You don’t get any of those feelings picking up a small plastic tray.
Oddly enough, one of the cooking shows on television recently reinforced this point for me, when I saw a contestant cutting up a whole tuna one evening. I was shocked by the thought that the fish being carved on the bench was the same animal that came out of a tuna can for my salad. Again, I had embraced the disconnect.
While I am not about to announce a 30 day vegetarian challenge here (at least not yet), I would like to talk about how you go about starting to change a long standing habit. So here goes.
Things to consider
Baby steps – If I did make the decision to go vegetarian, I would have to do it in stages. For starters, I would need to leave seafood on the menu for quite some time. I know I would not have the willpower to drop all meat products in one go.
To some that probably sounds a bit lame, but I need to be realistic.
One of my closest friends has chosen this course. She still eats seafood but no other animal meat.
Health – I say this because I have been having a few minor health issues over the last couple of months. Tests have shown that I have low iron levels (certainly not uncommon for a woman) but before I go taking the primary source of iron out of my diet, I need to look into how this may affect my health. Perhaps taking an iron supplement would be sufficient? I need to investigate if there are vegetable or non-meat sources I can eat to keep up my iron levels. In a nutshell, Google here I come.
Cooking – I am not a good cook. Half of the ingredients they use on MasterChef I have never even heard of (though I secretly suspect I am not alone on this one). I would not have a clue how to cook a lot of vegetables. I need to have a close look at the wider range of fruit and vegetables available and learn how to cook, combine and prepare them.
Restaurants – While controlling my eating at home would be fairly easy, the big problem will be when I go out to restaurants or over to a friend’s place for a barbecue. Having a steak meal, chicken parmigiana or bangers and mash (my favourite) when I go out is how I treat myself. The trick no doubt is finding different treats that I enjoy just as much. Perhaps having a lovely vegetarian meal followed by a delicious dessert could do the trick. I do love desserts!
The other issue of course in restaurants is where as a large group, you order and share meals. Other vegetarians in the group certainly makes it easier but if you are the only one, it could be a bit harder. I assume it is simply a matter of ordering and eating your own meal.
Travelling – This might not actually be logical or accurate but I do wonder how I will get on while I am travelling. Let’s face it some countries lean very heavily towards eating meat. To be honest, I am not sure if this is an issue I need to worry about.
Perhaps the real problem lies in resisting all of the choice you have when you go on holidays. Experimenting with different foods is one of the joys of travelling for me, so perhaps this is more a willpower issue over what food is readily available.
If you are a traveller, I would love to hear your input on this one. Do you think it would be an issue in some countries?
Things you will come up against
Family and friends – I mentioned wanting to change my eating habits to my brother last night and to my surprise it definitely hit a nerve with him. He went on the defensive about how there was nothing wrong with mankind killing and eating animals. We have been eating meat since the days of the caveman, we need meat to survive etc. He responded like I was suggesting he had to give up meat.
With any changes in your life, you may get some resistance, so be prepared and if necessary stick to your guns if you definitely know what you want.
As I mentioned early in the post, this is something I am considering. Firstly, I need to weigh up all the pros and cons and if I do decide to go down this path, make it as easy as possible for myself to stick with.
Have my new favourite recipes handy, find a fruit and vegetable shop that has a great affordable range and investigate some yummy alternatives to what I normally eat.
Do you have a habit that you are thinking about making some big changes to?
If so, I would love to hear from you. To the vegetarians out there, I would appreciate any tips, hits or advice you can share.