Why I Went Vegetarian

It is by far the most common question that all vegetarians and vegans get asked:

“what made you do that?”

Well, nobody made me do anything. It was a free choice all of my own accord. So before I get into the nitty gritty of this article let me just lay down where I’m coming from.

Now I’m not one to slate other people’s choices, people should have the freedom to eat whatever they choose and I’m totally cool with that. I’m not one to freak out if people around me are eating meat. And trust me, I know how good meat tastes.

But people’s perceptions of food can radically change. For some slow and steady, for some overnight.

When I was 15 I went, I believe the term is conveniently called ‘pescatarian’ for about a year. What was the cause for this? I put it down to purely getting grossed out by shows like ‘Kill it, Cook it, Eat it’. Literally overnight I was like… Nope. No more for me.

But why didn’t it last? Well, because perceptions change. About a year on and I felt like I was restricted in choice of food. Very low autonomy in what I could eat as it kind of fell down to whatever my mum bought and cooked. Not going to lie I think I was missing the taste as well as the variety of meat.

Looking back in hindsight, the environment I was in and still very much a developing little mind, I am not surprised that it did not last. But this time around, I feel my motivation for going veggie is a lot more meaningful and has more substance to it that would suggest it will maintain this way. However, it was probably the most backwards way of doing it.

What’s the number one reason that a lot vegetarians would say was the principal motive in giving up meat?

Ethics.

Totally understandable. But this wasn’t my kick start at all. Do your own research and you would be surprised what you come across. Even though it doesn’t fit the ‘norm’ of society.

And a massive reoccurring theme that I heard first hand from vegetarians were reported feelings of: vitality, less sluggish, a certain energised feeling. A ‘freshness’ if you will.

I thought to myself this is total horse poo. If I try this, I’m doing it to try and disprove it if anything. But a little research here and there, and a copious amount of documentaries had me half heartedly willing to try.

So if I’m gonna give up meat I’m gonna do it on my terms I said. And slowly and steadily I cut down on it, weening it out of my system, and fish too, until I was full blown vegetarian. And have been so for about 6 months now.

And you know what? It feels amazing.

So that ‘freshness’ seems very real to me. I would say it took a while to properly feel the effects, maybe 2–3 months, but I now wake up with no headaches or anything, and I definitely feel like I have a sustained energy about me.

This is totally essential for what I do, now that I have had a taste of this vitality I don’t really want to go back. Whether it’s freestyle football which requires a lot of physical energy or trying to be as productive as possible with Uni work, before hand trying to do those things on a limited amount of time in a ‘half hearted’ mindset would have been my thing. Hangovers have also become rather minimised which is a strange and surprising change, I’m also in the best physical shape of my life.

I’m not trying to start a war with nutrition experts who say that all those things cannot alone be attributed to cutting out meat. I’ve also cut down on sugary snacks and drink more water too.

But all I’m saying is you have nothing to lose. Give it a go. Even just for a week. Results guaranteed or your money back haha.

Some may have heard a rumour that you get the shits real bad when you cut out meat. I can confirm this was definitely true but is just nature’s way of your body saying “ok this is a bit different, give us a minute and we will sort this out”.

The health benefits don’t just stop there. I know many refuse to believe about the rumours of red meat being linked to cancer and other diseases for example. But you don’t even have to go to the deepest darkest depths of the Internet to find such evidence. I could link stuff here, but I want you guys to do your own research. Just like I did. And maybe then your perception will be altered in some way.

Now, this article is by no means an attempt to convert you all to Vegetarianism or Veganism. As I specified in the start I’m all for free will and choice. I actually really don’t like it when vegans who are really anti animal cruelty and whatnot get in other people’s face about it. I know they behave like that because they are more than passionate about the cause they believe in, but I don’t believe this is necessarily the best way to go about it. It makes it no different from religion with views being imposed upon them. And Lord knows (pardon the pun) that most people don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on their doors trying to get people to convert for example.

But if this article can strike a nerve with anyone, and get you to look inside yourself (figuratively of course) for what you are eating and where it comes from… then I feel it would have served it’s purpose successfully through my experience.

Which leads me onto those ethics. Where to even start. Honestly. The plethora of animal cruelty that exists on this planet is overwhelming. But for the sake of discussion, I’m focusing on the food industry of course.

Now many of you may have the view that you don’t know, or simply don’t care where your food comes from. But with meat we know it comes from animals. One way or another. If you can think about animals, then you should be able to conceptualize food too. Sounds simple but let me elaborate with a story:

My mum and I were in the kitchen, there was a programme on the TV about farms. There was a new born lamb on screen. Mum proceeds to her typical reaction of ‘aww look how cute it is’. I said “Why do you eat them then?” her response was “because they taste nice”.
I said: “Yeah I know that. But you also like to see them being cute and running round in a field as well though no?”
She said: “Yeah”
I said: “well you can’t have your lamb and eat it then”.

She laughed. And by her doing that I knew that she understood where I was coming from. Mum likes to eat lamb. Mum also liked to see lambs live and look well in a field. Those two premises can not co exist simultaneously. Therefore it is technically hypocritical if anyone expresses similar views. Or even more technically, the term in psychology is called Cognitive Dissonance which means to hold two opposing contradictory thoughts at the same time.

By not eating meat, I am quietly satisfied that I’m not adding to the demand in any way and that none of it is on my conscience. I know the sad reality is that it would take thousands upon thousands of people to go veggie to make a direct impact on the demand for it. But this is simply a moral stance that people can choose to take or not.

Although ethics may not have been my principal reason for going veggie, it has inadvertently become just as important. I have always liked animals, and I’ve always been aware of the cruelty that goes on too. Whether animals are killed ‘horrifically’ or ‘humanely’ they are still killed. Quite often for our gain. The outcome is the same.

Here’s where I could choose to be quite brutal and label all you meat eaters ‘specism displaying savages’ but I won’t.

Instead, I just ask that you throw yourself into the thick of what I, and many other vegetarians/vegans are saying. My favourite point to reiterate about the ethical side of it is simply, that we, if you live in a western society etc. are privileged enough in that we don’t NEED to eat meat.

Taste is the only exclusive thing it offers. And if anyone pipes up with “you need it for Protein of course” get out of here. There’s other sources that don’t quite require so much harm to come by. Unless you’re an Eskimo out in the middle of the antarctic or similar, yeah you are going to hunt to survive of course, I can reason with that a lot more. Even our ancestors too. But we, nowadays, are evolved and advanced enough to not require meat to survive. We have access to a wide range of foods, cruelty free, that can fuel us. If you can agree that taste is the only thing it offers then that is a step in the right direction. And honestly after a while that wasn’t too hard a thing to give up.

You got Netflix? Great! Why don’t you go learn a thing or two from the documentaries on there. I strongly recommend Vegucated and also Fed Up. (the latter is more to do with sugar, but some of the messages in it are still a reinforcer that Vegetarianism is not to be frowned upon).

If you are a super hard, tough as nails guy that doesn’t cry at anything or shed the slightest bit of emotion, I challenge you to watch the entirety of ‘Earthlings’. The most messed up thing ever showing a wide range of animal suffering happening today. And not just the food industry. I couldn’t sit through the whole of it. And I didn’t want to. I found it was presented in a boring manner on something that I already was very aware is happening. But that’s the cold hard truth.

My eating habits now are still immensely sporadic and random. I’m incredibly impulsive when it comes to food and really do eat whatever I’m in the mood for. Heck, I’ll have a bowl of peas for breakfast. Yes. Peas. You read that right. But I eat so much fruit. I even got a stocking for Christmas that was just filled with fruit. Pineapple, melon, blueberries… you name it, it was in there!

Right now I feel Vegetarianism is a great middle ground between veganism and how I used to be. I think veganism is by far the most healthy and compassionate life style you can get. It’s not something I would want to try anytime soon but who knows, maybe in future. Then again, maybe in future I won’t be a vegetarian anymore, because perceptions can change.

If you can grasp that fact and be willing to really take a step back and evaluate what you are eating and how it ties in with your beliefs then brilliant. Not trying to impose my views or anything but I hope you found this article of interest.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow me on instagram & twitter @stevegrayfs

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