One week ago today, I became vegetarian. Again.
I’ve done it before. The first time I tried, in my teenage years, was more the manifestation of somewhat eating-disordered behaviours than of any real sense of conviction. My parents got all shouty and I gave up pretty quickly on trying to cut out meat (although it was another few years before I really enjoyed food again). The second time, I’d just arrived in the UK for a year of uni and had decided it was a good time to put my newly developed thoughts about animal welfare into action. It wasn’t. Limited knowledge of the necessities of a vego diet and very limited money saw me living off canned soup, Sainsbury’s cheese and spinach pizzas, noodles and choc-chip cookies for two months before I ended up with a constant cold for the next month. By the time I arrived back in Australia a year later, I was well and truly back into meat-eating ways. And I’ve stayed in those ways for the past 5 years.
This time, I’m going vego properly. I’m doing it because I can no longer keep telling myself that I’m ok with eating animals. Because really, I’m not, and I can’t keep lying to myself.
I gave up eating pig products at the start of the year – it felt wrong to be eating such an intelligent and social animal. You have no idea how much I love chorizo sausage. But I just couldn’t enjoy it when I had pictures of teacup pigs and sow stalls floating around in my mind every time I ate it.
As the year has gone by, it’s made less and less sense to me why I should care about one species of animal more than another. I started seeing cows with long eyelashes, blinking reproachfully at me every time I ate a burger. Sheep bleated pitifully at me as I gnawed on a roast. Every chicken began turning into David’s parents crazy, stupid, dinosaur-shaped chicken, Dina. And despite being crazy, stupid and dinosaur-shaped, Dina is sort of awesome.
So a week ago, I stopped. I’m trying to make sure that I’m still getting adequate protein and iron. I’m taking multivitamins, eating loads of nuts and legumes. I’m allergic to eggs, but I’m still eating cheese and yoghurt. I’m also trying to remember all the other associated stuff – no more of my beloved Sour Worms – they contain gelatin. No more leather shoes or leather handbags. I don’t think this is going to be easy. But I do think it will be better.