Monday, January 9, 2017

Going Vege

At the start of our time in Vancouver, faced with living on a budget and not knowing much about where to find cheap groceries (pro-tip: Safeway is expensive!) Clem and I decided not to buy meat for our meals at home any more. I grew up eating and cooking a fairly diverse range of food from many ethnic origins and was never a fan of the traditional meat and 3 veg style meal that colonial countries seem to revere so removing meat from what I was cooking wasn't much of a challenge.

With Clem being prone to iron deficiency I was a little concerned that no meat would cause problems for her but hoped that the inclusion of iron rich foods like black beans into more of our food, and the little bit of meat we'd still be eating on nights out would be enough.

As time went on, it became apparent that the importance of meat in our diet was a cultural idea that had been way over-hyped for us growing up. I'm no expert on human nutrition but with neither of us suffering any apparent ill-effects from eating significantly less meat, it seemed to me more and more like the enthusiastic encouragement to eat meat growing up was likely just flow-on propaganda from those who profit from the slaughter of animals. Perhaps I'm being too cynical.

At any rate, a couple of months into our new at-home lifestyle decision, we were walking home one day when I was suddenly hit with the idea to cut meat out altogether. I didn't miss it at home, I didn't feel like I needed it elsewhere. It made sense to me on an ethical level where I'd always struggled with the hypocrisy of claiming a love for animals whilst not thinking twice about funding the killing of animals for food. Clem agreed to join me and just like that we were the dreaded "V" word, we became vegetarians.

Vancouver is perhaps the easiest city in the world to become vegetarian. I don't know that the stats exist but I'd bet that aside from perhaps some religiously influenced cities in India, Vancouver probably has the most Vegetarian restaurants per capita with most offering a wide variety of vegan options too. With our at-home cooking already replacing meat largely with various types of beans and lentils and our going out covered by an amazing array of cuisine options, we had an easy transition into a meat-free life.

Since going Vegetarian, I personally feel that I have more energy for the most-part than I did when I ate meat, I feel better after eating than I ever did before and I feel much less hypocritical about professing a love of animals when I'm not eating them. Overall, it was the right decision for me, and I'm sure Clem feels the same way.

We had a conversation with one of our flatmates who was vegan once and he said something along the lines of "Good food is good food and my choices are my choices" which is a quote I try to live by with my vegetarianism. I know better than a lot of people that life is a very different experience with different sets of challenges for everyone so I'm never going to judge someone adversely for eating meat. My choices are my choices and the ones I stick with are the ones that work for me and make me happy.

What I will say on the moral side of vegetarianism is this: Nobody's perfect, I'm still a massive hypocrite with the amount of dairy, eggs and other animal products I consume that stem from places that inevitably engage in at least some cruel practises even if it's not directly killing animals. I understand that their may be people out there who medically cannot entirely remove meat from their diets and many more out there who are simply unwilling to make such a massive change, particularly one that differs from their cultural norm.

What is indisputable is that the majority of people eat far more meat than is necessary. If you are unable or unwilling to remove meat from your diet, please consider cutting down. If you eat meat 7 days a week, maybe try meat-free weekends, you'll learn more about food in the process and you'll get more creative with what you eat and cook. The meat industry has a lot to answer for in terms of environmental impact and if we make the collective effort to consume less of it, we can collectively make a positive change for the planet. Think about the future, think about your children, cut down on your meat consumption.

In my next post, I'll talk more about some of the awesome restaurants we had the pleasure of experiencing in Vancouver and what they offer vegetarian food-lovers.

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