Tuesday, June 12, 2007

steps to becoming vegetarian

Pork by Steven Norman

This article may be upsetting.

This is the question Barbara left me with after her comment a few days ago :

I wonder if you have done any research on what is being reported about the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet versus a diet containing meat with regard to walking more gently on the earth and depletion of its resources.

Best to you, Barbara in Georgia USA

I immediately responded that I had but it has prompted me over the last few days to reflect on my answer and decide what I can do about it.

gives some answers to the amount of resources needed to bring the meat to your plate and to some extent I agree with their information. I also do not understand why cattle need to be moved all around the countryside from farm to farm in an effort to make the cattle bigger, faster so that it reaches the supermarket,easily packaged etc.

I have been a meat eater all my life ( its a habit, its the norm in my family) but in the last few years have chosen to purchase meat not from the supermarket but from local producers. ( So called happy meat). Our farm visit was thoughtprovoking and yes, the boys were put off by consciously linking the sausages to the cute pigs they saw. Was this a cruel thing to do? I think not. As consumers we are so removed from the actual process and thinking that yes, for those sausages to arrive on the table, an animal was bred and killed. It is convenient that we do not want to look at that, that the meat arrives ready to consume and yet it does not remove the actual fact that the animal was killed for us. The first step for me has been to acknowledge and thank the animal for giving its life so that I might have some protein in my body.

The next step for me was to reduce the actual amount of meat I eat. I introduced 2 no meat days on the menu ( jacket potatoes being one, soup the other and a vegetable past dish are favourites). I am not keen on meat substitues made from soya because I feel that if you are not going to eat meat, then you do not eat meat. I have found that my awareness of other things beside meat is limited. I do cook vegetarian dishes but usually not as a rule and that is being explored at the moment too. In the meantime, I have reduced the amount of meat, locally purchased to sufficient ( i.e. no more than a fist size per meal per person) in an effort to wean myself of too much meat.

Salads and soups are becoming more the norm as opposed to beef.,chicken and ham sandwiches.

Here are my 10 steps to becoming a vegetarian:

  1. Research. Explore. Get the facts. Read lots. Knowledge is power
  2. Think about the animals. Think about your body. Think about the earth. And if you're not tired from all that thinking, consider how your food choices impact the people around you and the world. No need to make any decisions. Just allow yourself time to ponder.
  3. Talk to vegetarians. Talk to non-vegetarians. Ask questions. Share your thoughts. Join a club. Start a club. Hang out with vegetarians. Then do more thinking.
  4. Make a game of it. Bet your friend you can go a whole month without steak Setting goals can be serious or fun. Depends on your attitude.
  5. Learning to cook in a whole new way can be exciting. Take a class. Get books from the library. Try out new recipes on a friend. Allow yourself to get creative, to play. Have some fun with it. Meatless meals are possible
  6. Make mealtime special. Sit down. Use the good china and cloth napkins. Play nice music before you dig in, and take a moment to be thankful. As you eat, chew carefully, savoring each bite. Slow down. Notice the tastes, sensations. See how it feels to really experience food this way.
  7. Try to be aware of your body's needs. Sleep when you're tired. Eat when you're hungry. Pay attention to your body - which foods feel good, which don't? Notice how certain foods drain your energy, mood, emotions, concentration and sleep pattern. Respect your body. Learn the connection between what you put in your body and what you get out of it.
  8. Consider fasting. Look into juicing. Explore macrobiotics or raw food diets.
  9. You may get resistance from friends and family. Be ready for it. (Family dinners can be especially stressful - breaking "food traditions" is hard on everyone.) Be strong, but not self-righteous. Trust yourself. Prepare, too, for your own self-doubts. Am I getting enough vitamins? Am I doing the right thing? This is normal. Relax. Talk to your friends. Build a support group. Refer back to your books. And if you do "fall off the wagon," see how you feel, and get back on! Give yourself room to be human, and time to adjust.
  10. Mark the day on your calendar that you stopped eating meat. Treat yourself to a massage. But realise that vegetarianism is an ongoing process, and the "journey" is more than half the fun!

I am personally at step 2.

here are some interesting sites to get inspiration from.
Vegetarian resource group - lots of info on being a vegan
Vegan lunch box - infor and inspiration of what to put in your lunchbox and much more
Compassionate cooks - a podcast abour changing your meals one step at a time
Vegetarian meal plans - a blog with a menu, great recipes and gorgeous photos of food.

As a by the by, reducing my portions and introducing more veg and fruit, less sugar and more water has reduced my weight by 8 lbs so far over the last 2 months. Less is more.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a very thoughtful article!

Barbara in Georgia USA

Gillybean said...

We grew up on a farm so had the freshest meat available. We don't live on a farm any more but fresh meat is easy to get locally. I serve about 3 vegetarian meals a week and try to provide for our family from the garden. My problem with vegetarian options is that all the rice, lentils, soy etc is imported so it is not fresh probably is treated and obviously impacts on the envirionment by carbon impact. I love your posts for challenging me to think. I know alot of people who are downshifting due to necessity myself included and it's wonderful to hear from people who do it by choice. I find it hard to get sesasonal recipies for the family you know 101 thing to do with broccoli, parsnip, pumpkin, tomatoes etc. Any recomendations would be great.