Posted on April 4, 2017
After reading about how Lloyd transitioned to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle (you can see the post here), I thought it would be fun to share my own experience.
Grab a cuppa, this is going to be a long one.
My name is Simone and I’ve been a vegetarian for twelve years.
And yes, that was totally supposed to sound like the introduction to an AA speech.
Up until then I had eaten meat my entire life without any kind of second thought. My favourite meat was chicken and if it was drizzled in lemon then all the more reason to eat it.
KFC was a Saturday staple in our house for years when I was growing up. I’d either join my dad and wait in the car whilst he bought a big bucket or I’d sit at home waiting in anticipation whilst I geared up for my Saturday in with my chicken and an episode of Charmed.
When I think about that now my nostalgia is tinged with mild nausea.
There was nothing about my upbringing that would have made me think any differently and I was pretty ignorant about the fact that my food didn’t have a face therefore it was just food. Where it came from I didn’t know and quite frankly never thought about.
Years later I made friends with two brothers who changed my life. They were the first vegetarians I had ever met and I was kind of in awe. They weren’t ashamed to tell anyone they were vegetarians; in fact they enjoyed speaking about it and were more than happy to share the research they had done on the subject. All of a sudden meat was no longer just this fleshy juicy food that I’d been eating my whole life. Meat was a cute bird that had been taken away from its mother; had it’s neck twisted to the point that it snapped, hung upside down on a conveyor and had its feathers plucked from its body before being prepped to become our food.
It left me shocked and upset. How could this be the norm? Don’t we eat animals that die from natural causes? It was a true awakening.
The change to being a vegetarian didn’t happen overnight (as much as I wished it could have). I managed to not eat meat for a whole week and then OOPS – I made a ham sandwich.
But…that was the last ham sandwich I have ever eaten!
I would like to have said that I had a supportive network at home in the early days but that wouldn’t be true. I think nowadays a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is much more accepted but back then it was still a relatively new ‘movement’ that belonged to activists and hippies. My parents scoffed at me becoming vegetarian and thought it was a passing phase. Nobody tells you that to be a vegetarian means that you have to be a ninja turtle (i.e have a hard shell) – and if you don’t have one then you’d better bloody grow one quickly.
The people who were supposed to support me the most left me in tears on more than one occasion. All of a sudden the fact that I was and am naturally pale was because “I don’t eat meat.” I was ridiculed, given health “advice” from people who had no right to tell me what was healthy and what was not, I was judged regularly for my choices and I couldn’t go a Christmas without my choices being brought to the limelight in ways that were only ever meant to get a kick out of everyone else but me.
This is rarely the case these days; my parents have now fully accepted that being vegetarian comes as part and parcel with me and although I will occasionally be the brunt of a joke here and there especially from colleagues I know it’s in jest.
When I became a vegetarian I must admit that I didn’t know a thing about food. My idea of cooking was to boil some pasta and toast some bread thus pasta and bread became my staple foods. I remember often feeling very tired and it was obviously because my diet was so bad at the time.
I’m happy to say that things are so different nowadays!
Being a vegetarian is something that has became a part of my identity. There is so much more to life than eating meat and contributing to the ethical and environmental issues that there are in the world. Lloyd being vegetarian too makes everything easier and although he is THE chef, I also partake in some cooking from time to time and we have some amazing vegan recipe books to assist us. Although I mostly eat vegan I don’t class myself as vegan…yet. I still eat cheese from time to time even though I’m lactose intolerant and it kills me (I’m a glutton for punishment.) I think that I’m ready to take the next step but that will come with having our own place. Our own kitchen, our own fridge and freezer and our own fully stocked pantry.
All in all the road has been a bumpy one but it’s a journey that has been worth every second.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!
Posted on March 21, 2017
Guest post by Lloyd.
If I were to try and imagine myself at 26 I would never in a million years have guessed I would have stopped eating meat. If my family were to go out for a meal it was always a safe bet that my order would be a big burger, mixed grill or a steak.
Although Simone is a vegetarian it didn’t really have any influence on my own diet to begin with due to the long distance. Even when we were together, if we went out to eat I would order the same meals. However, when it came to making stuff at home I was keen to try cooking up some vegetarian dishes. I was always happy to test new recipes and explore alternative options to meat so I guess it didn’t take much for me to jump feet first into the veggie lifestyle.
I can’t pinpoint an exact time where I made the decision to give up meat for good but the idea certainly developed from the time I watched a documentary film called Cowspiracy. I watched it near the beginning of 2015, but the film has gained a lot more coverage since one Mr. DiCaprio was involved as an executive producer for a new cut of the film later on that year.
It would be very easy to shrug or turn a blind eye to the message the film is putting across but the information really struck a chord with me and has definitely influenced my life choices since watching. The main point I took away from the film was just how drastically our obsession with meat has affected our planet. Now, I’m not posting about this to try and push my personal beliefs onto anyone, but the film is very thought provoking and I strongly recommend giving it a watch.
Luckily for me the change to animal free products and food was incredibly easy thanks to how accessible these were from local grocery stores or online back in the UK. Even though there were plenty of pre-prepared “sausages” and varieties of veggie burgers there is nothing more satisfying than creating a whole meal from scratch, plus – it tastes so much better!
As a starting point those sausages and burgers will be your saving grace. They’re a perfect jumping off point to ease yourself into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and are so simple to prepare with a plate of veg, couscous or mixed salad. But it won’t be long until you’re moulding your own burgers or “sausage meat” patties and creating all kinds of culinary delights like stir fries and buddha bowls!
It may all seem like a bit much to begin with, as it is such a huge step. If you were to conduct some research about veganism you may also find it overwhelming to find out just how many obscure ways animal products can be used in your day to day foods and other general ingredients. For example: a lot of companies use bone char during the refining process for their sugars and plenty of wines and beers are processed with isinglass (dried swim bladders from fish).
One of the major issues people seem to have with going vegan is that “there is so much you have to give up” but it needs to be viewed more as an opportunity to expand your repertoire of recipes and take more care with what you’re fueling your body with. So why not create something delicious safe in the knowledge that it’s completely cruelty-free! From personal experience I have cooked a lot more and with so much more variety since changing my eating habits and although there are some traditional dishes with a veggie twist, there are no feelings of nostalgia for those meat eating days.
I can remember at the very beginning my meals were always kept very simple whilst learning more about the lifestyle and finding what worked for me. Breakfasts would generally consist of a toasted bagel with vegan spread or porridge. But you can also mix it up with some smoothies, fruit salad or even some vegan pancakes!
With most other dishes I would cook up a decent sized batch so that there were at least 2 or 3 portions to use for future lunches and evening meals. Those meals would often be falafel, salads and some basic soups and curries.
Nowadays we are a lot more adventurous with our meals and will have a go at pretty much any recipe we find that sounds tasty. Lately we’ve been making a point of working our way through a handful of vegan recipe books we’ve picked up and will have to share our best finds in future posts.
Do you have a recipe or your own story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you too!