A few months ago (two to be exact), I made a bold move. A bold move for any food obsessed person in this world (I think that by now, it has become clear that I am one of these)… I became vegetarian. Shock, horror! But… why?
Well, for a very long time, I promised myself I would one day take six months to experience the vegetarian lifestyle. I love vegetables, I love vegetarian food, and I do not necessarily agree with the way we raise our meat, so all that was holding me back was laziness. The boy was very quick to point that out, and in my classic “well, I will show you” determination, I went for it. I was to start on the first week of my Rocket training in Thailand. This was perfect, Thailand would be an easy place to be a veggie. Sure enough it was…. oh delicious food with a view of Koh Phangan’s beaches… how I miss you.
One of the big surprises about becoming vegetarian (and I had heard this from vegetarians throughout my life) is how much anger / angst / aggression it causes in my fellow human friends. Now, I would forgive the Frenchies in my life for this (let’s face it, my lovely France is not recognised for its vegetarian friendly restaurants), but from the Brits?! No! This is the country in which venues will ask schools how many vegetarians they need to accommodate on school trips! To my mere French soul, this is unheard of! When I explain I have crossed to the Dark Side, I am now generally met with misunderstanding, followed by “What?! You don’t eat fish either?!”. Considering I am not forcing my friends to make the step, or refusing to be in the presence of meat, I find the reaction hard to understand. The same kind of tension builds around the table as it would had we stumbled into a conversation about politics.
So why did I cross over to the Dark Side of leafy greens? I love food… and that includes meat, and fish. However, I also love the ground I tread on, and the greater world around me. I recycle, I stop the tap when I brush my teeth, I have the heating on a timer, I switch the light off when I leave the room, I use a water bottle rather than endless plastic bottles, and I do this because I believe in preserving our environment to the best ability that I can. I have been lucky enough to explore many parts of the world, to see corals, fish, wild animals in jungles, in deserts, and the thought of losing that richness is devastating to me. Our population is ever growing, and the demands we put on food production keep increasing. It seems to me that it is time we did something about it, and it so happens, that a big part of that can be done through what I put on my plate… and I think we all know this!
By deciding to save the cow, I figured I should also let the sea bream roam free! We are emptying our seas, and no matter how ‘sustainably’ we fish, I do not believe this is without repercussion. To change our diets, cut out meat (or reduce our consumption drastically), reduce our dairy intake would all be a huge help to our environment, and would let our Earth get some of its breath back, but this demands a huge change in our personal behaviour. Rather than passing the buck, this requires us to make a change in our every day lives. Is this why becoming vegetarian has been met with such reaction? Is it simply highlighting something we all know, but would rather not? Here is a fact… the agro-business contributes more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere than all transportation (that is cars, boats, planes…) put together!
I was lucky enough to recently see a wonderful, intelligent film on the subject: Cowspiracy. Keep your eyes peeled to see it near you. I work for a wonderful yoga studio which organised the screening, and whilst there is an element of preaching to the converted, it was evident that the crowds that left the cinema, were shocked, inspired, and determined to do more. Having seen the film, I find it hard to imagine the possibility of ignoring what I know and going back to eating meat at the end of my six months… watch this space!
Also on my list to watch, and maybe more readily available at home:
And if you think vegetarian food is boring, or would like to expand your repertoire, I would highly recommend Plenty and Plenty More by Yottam Ottolenghi. They have become our home bible!