As a child I don’t remember being a fussy eater. In fact the only food I can remember outright refusing to eat is mushy peas (if my cousins are reading this – you know what I mean!). I ate pretty much what I was given without complaint. I wasn’t a huge fan of red meat but I would eat it if my Mum cooked it for me. I had milk on my cereal every morning. I don’t think I ate eggs regularly but they certainly weren’t something I avoided.
Once I got to high school I became a lot more health conscious. I joined a gym and started to watch what I ate. I replaced the dairy products I ate with low fat versions and cut out fattier processed meats like bacon and sausages. By this point I was preparing most of my own meals and tended to stick to lean meats (mostly chicken) and fish. I also hugely cut down my carbohydrate intake but I’ll talk more about that at a later date. I kept this up for a few years and lost some weight along the way..
I was never severely underweight but it must have been below what my body was comfortable with – on a couple of occasions I fainted in public which was quite embarrassing! Anyway, the relevance of this is that it prompted me to see a doctor who gave me the advice “you just need a good spag bol”. I don’t think this transformed me overnight but it did lead to me introducing red meat back into my diet. Somewhere along the line I even realised that I loved steak when it was cooked properly (sorry Mum)!
I also started to eat more eggs and rediscovered the joys of ice cream and full-fat greek yoghurt. Don’t get me wrong I did eat a lot of veggie food, particularly at university. I would usually go for a veggie burger over a beef burger and for some reason I always preferred soy milk (I think because it’s sweeter) on cereal or in coffee. But these were just personal preferences because I liked the taste. I definitely got to a healthier weight but I never really developed a healthy relationship with food. My hair and nails never grew and although I never had a huge acne problem my skin was never as good as I would have liked it to be. My digestion was pretty poor and even though I was happy doing things I love I just never really felt at my best physically.
It wasn’t until September 2015 that I started to reduce my meat intake again. I would like to say it was due to some watershed event that opened up my eyes to the ethics of consuming animal products, however in reality it was entirely selfish. I had chronic gastritis and dairy and red meats were amongst the (long) list of foods to avoid. I did a lot of research around this time into different diets and somehow stumbled across the vast number of people on Youtube sharing their stories of healing on a plant based diet.
I watched endless videos and documentaries and my eyes were opened to not only animal rights issues but the damaging effects of animal agriculture on the environment and our bodies. Before long I was converted. One night I even dreamed that I was vegan – this might seem stupid but I don’t normally remember any of my dreams so I thought I better pay attention. I pretty much changed my diet overnight. I still had a few lapses, mainly when eating out with friends, and I do remember the last meat that I ate which was back at the beginning of November! Since then I have followed a 99.9% plant based diet with no looking back. I feel healthier than I have in a long time and it just feels RIGHT.
I look back now and I wonder how I managed to live 22 years of my life without even thinking about these issues. I won’t say that it has been easy to go against everything I have been taught and have believed in all of my life but I know that I have made the right decision. If you find yourself feeling uneasy when you think about eating animals: maybe you feel queasy when handling raw meat or you prefer not to think about fluffy lambs as you tuck into your curry. Or if you just don’t feel like your current lifestyle is working for you then perhaps you will find what I have to say in the coming posts interesting.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post below and I will answer as best as I can. I look forward to hearing from you!