Ever since I’ve been little I’ve had this love hate relationship with meat, I’ve always been a huge animal lover and hated the thought of eating them but at the same time i was brought up on meat, liked the taste of it, and a meal wasn’t really a meal if meat wasn’t at the center of it.
I decided to go vegetarian in my teens and then vegan whilst at university, but when i look back on it now, my reasons for doing so were slightly warped. I had lots of friends that were veggie, and i though it would be ‘cool’ to go vegan, everyone was doing it, it made me interesting and i’d probably get really skinny if i did it too, so i declared to the world that i would never eat chocolate again.
As with all things though, when your heart’s not totally in something then you give up. I lasted a good 5 years or so being veggie (with the odd slip here or there) and about a year vegan (with many slips here and there), but then one day, I went from eating a Rocky Robin chocolate bar and breaking my veganism back to full on bacon sandwiches. I had cracked and I vowed that day that i wouldn’t put restrictions on myself and the food that i ate ever again!
i’ve always been pretty healthy and am conscious of where my food comes from, but after being veggie for so long, i got in the mind set of, if i wanted to eat meat then i’d do it – i didn’t have anything to prove anymore, I’d had too many restrictions for the wrong reasons for too long.
So as the years past by, i was living my life eating what i liked when i liked, trying not to think about it too much. If i put it into context, i’d have pangs of guilt stricken moments before i tucked into my Sunday roast chicken, but that thought of not putting ‘those restrictions’ on myself again would always win over, so i kept on eating whatever took my fancy, and pushing those guilty feelings to the back of my mind.
As i started to get more and more into yoga, and wellness and healthy living i learned about Ahimsa (non violence) and how to eat consciously, i also started hearing more about the effects eating animal products has, not only on our health but also our environment, something i’d not really taken the time to learn about in my early teens and first round of vegetarianism.
From everything i was learning about the meat industry, i could feel that ever increasing guilty conscious pushing its way to the forefront of my mind every time i ate any kind of animal product. I’d try to justify to myself that what i was doing was ‘ok’. I’d tell friends that ‘i hardly ever eat red meat’, and ‘i always buy organic’. and repeat these words, to myself and others constantly. If people asked about my eating preferences, i’d feel like i had to rationalise my actions by saying things like ‘ i was a veggie throughout my whole teens, but now i don’t have any restrictions on myself’.
These people didn’t care about my eating habits, but i obviously really did care.
I’d always had this little voice at the back of my head, this pull of consciousness, drawing me back towards a vegetarian lifestyle. My whole entire being wanted myself to give in and go back, but all i though about was those bloody restrictions and how i could still be healthy and eat what i wanted.
It wasn’t until this years that The World Health Organisation reported that processed meats can increase chances of cancer by 18% and that red meats were “probably carcinogenic”. I also watched one of the most life changing documentaries i’ve seen in a long time – Cowspiricy where i learned that animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. Watch some of the top line facts here.
It was time for me to listen to my heart and ten years after giving up my initial vegetarianism, i had a realisation. Eating meat was one of the few things that REALLY annoyed me about myself. I’d judge myself constantly for doing it. I’d feel guilty after a meal, and it just didn’t feel right to be eating it. No matter how much i liked the taste i knew in my heart that personally i shouldn’t be eating it.
I decided that for me to be happier in myself and to feel more content with life that i needed to put these ‘restrictions’ back in place, and there’s not a day goes by that i don’t feel total joy with my decision. I still see people eating meat and think about how good it looks/smells, but i feel so good about myself, knowing that no animals or our beautiful environment were harmed in the food choices i make.
If you’re having thought’s about making changes to your diet, think about the reasons your doing it for. I’ve made the same choice in two separate stages of my life and feel totally different now to what i did in my twenties, if you’re not doing it for the right reasons then it wont work for you, but remember we all need to put certain restrictions on ourselves, if we want to live a happy, healthy and fully conscious life. I read something recently that said you cant call yourself an environmentalist if you eat animals products. So for now i’m not an environmentalist, I’m not a vegan and i’m not sure if i ever will be again, but at the moment i’m really happy with the conscious decision I’ve made to add those meat eating restrictions back to my life.