Becoming a vegetarian is something that I thought about for a long time but it was always 'too much of a commitment'. I still live at home and have very basic cooking skills so rely on my mum to feed me - none of my family are vegetarian and my parent's weren't overly fond of the thought of me becoming one. In late January, they went on holiday and I subconsciously stopped eating meat - it just wasn't a food I reached for.
The major ethical debate I have with myself is that I still eat fish. When I made the decision, I didn't have much confidence in my will power so just illuminated meat. I have researched the topic and some could say I'm completely hypocritical but I believe as long as you know where your food is sourced and exactly what you're putting in your body (meat or otherwise) then you don't have to justify your choices to anybody.
W H Y I S T O P P E D E A T I N G M E A T
I appreciate that as a species, we are meat eaters and would never snub someone for being carnivorous. However, I don't agree with the production of processed meat and would encourage everyone to eat organic, sustainable produce. If one day the laws on how animals are harvested and farmed were changed, I would maybe reconsider my decision.
Secondly, as someone who already suffers from a hormonal condition, I don't think it is wise to continually eat meat that is pumped full of artificial hormones. This is also why an excess of soy products should be avoided as they can affect your hormones.
So if I liked the taste of meat, why did I give it up? I don't think the 2 minutes of satisfaction I get whilst eating a McChicken Sandwich is worth the life of an animal. I haven't eaten meat in almost half a year and I no longer miss it or even really crave it.
W H A T I E A T
Scrapping meat wasn't the exclusive contributor to my weight loss, but the mentality of your whole lifestyle and diet changes as you are more considerate of what you're eating and that ultimately improves your health.
I'm eating alternative sources of protein such as fish, grains, nuts, beans and Quorn. Quorn is a controversial food and some vegetarians say to avoid it completely and stick to 'clean' protein alternatives. Quorn is processed to resemble the taste and texture of meat - an avid meat eater could definitely detect the 'fake meat' but for someone who is weening themselves off of it, it's a good place to start. Some replicas are better than others and I would recommend the Quorn breaded 'chicken' fillets if you ever need a chicken nugget fix.
A lot of family favourites can be made vegetarian-friendly. Meals such as stir frys and curries can be made in two portions and a meat substitute thrown in. I also eat a lot of eggs as I now enjoy eating breakfast a lot more. My go-to is poached eggs on toast with something like tomatoes, spinach or avocado. I really love pesto too but you must be careful that you buy a vegetarian recipe (which is a pain in the arse to find) because a lot of artisan cheeses, like parmesan, contain rennet. Research foods that are meat-free because you'd be surprised what foods have hidden ingredients. Despite the fact I'm not a vegetarian, I do avoid gelatine and other meat by-products.
F O O D I S S U B J E C T I V E
There are definite pros and cons to giving up meat but 5 months in and I'm feeling great. It has given me a much more positive outlook on my diet and has made a significant contribution to the relationship I have with food and the choices I make.
What we fuel our body with is an incredibly subjective thing and if you're considering becoming a vegetarian, do not get het up on the idea that you can never eat meat again - that's not the case and it's not the end of the world if you do. I am the type of person who is motivated by numbers and checking off the days, but your food should not be a chore. There's no rule book (actually, there probably is) so adapt your way of eating to suit your lifestyle and what makes you happy.