You may remember the #IRoarForCecil hashtag flooding your social media, I like many was moved by his death and it ended up as the reason behind me deciding to become vegetarian. I wanted to share a little bit about my journey and some tips for anyone considering trying out vegetarianism for themselves.
In 2015, Cecil the Lion was shot, skinned and beheaded in Hwange National Park and game reserve, Zimbabwe. He had become a star of the 14,651 km² reserve and tourists and scientists alike visited the park in hopes of seeing the black maned Lion. The hunter claims he had bought a permit for the hunt and has not been charged for the killing.
News of Cecil’s death spread like wildfire through social media and sparked animal conservationists to call for more secure laws on poaching and import bans on lion trophies. #IRoarForCecil and #JusticeForCecil hashtags plagued Facebook and Twitter and people, including me, posted photos of their pets roaring for Cecil (Our little panther Mew pictured above). As always everyone jumped on the bandwagon but it was not until Kat Von D, tattoo artist, cruelty free make-up entrepreneur and vegan spokesperson, posted something about the subject that made me rethink everything.
Her words were ‘It’s hard for me to empathize with those of you who are upset about the recent killing of an innocent lion, yet choose to eat animals.’ I’m not one for keyboard wars but I read some of the comments. First of all my mind went into immediate self defence I was brought up a meat eater I thought, it’s just what humans do isn’t it? But the more I thought about it the more guilty I felt. ‘I love animals’ is a phrase I’ve used all my life and it made me wonder for the first time why then did I eat them?
In a few moments I decided that I could no longer support the murder of innocent animals and I was going to make a change, that I was going to do something to work towards doing something good for the planet and that was in the form of giving up meat.
My first attempt was a complete failure. I didn’t know how to replace the meat I had cut out and the main and most ridiculous problem was that I flat out kept forgetting. At the time I worked as a Deputy Manager for Flaming Grill, a UK brand famed for their food challenges, large dishes of ribs, beef burgers and steaks that 9 times out of 10 ended in waste. I would go to order my lunch for my break and without thinking go for a burger or beef pie and have to run in to the kitchen afterwards to cancel it. I was unprepared and defeated.
I decided to make a proper plan of action, Pinterest became my best friend and I pinned countless veggie and vegan recipes. I cut down on red meats but they would often slip into my diet. My partner became interested in my goal and we decided that on 1st January 2016 we would completely cut out red meats and white meats including products containing animal fats like jelly and sauces but not including fish. Having failed once I promised that I would not fail again so we agreed to take it one step at a time. In a few weeks it would have been a year as Pescetarians and in the run up to the end of the year we are now using more vegan products and often eat vegan alternatives and will continue to cut down as we go on. If you can go cold turkey that’s fantastic but if you need to take it one step at a time then do what feels right for you, any change is great and the planet will thank you for it.
I personally feel great with my new diet, of course every single person is different but I would recommend anyone give it a go and see if it helps any aspects of your health. My blood was checked recently and is perfect, I’ve finally been able to put on muscle weight which has always been hard for me and I feel like I have more energy. Because I’m getting everything I need I very rarely crave foods which would previously end up with me in KFC or McDonalds. My partner also found a new love in cooking and we try new foods all the time which is awesome.
I have come across some obstacles this time around and these are mainly in the form of people. People will always ask questions and challenge vegetarianism, my friend shared a meme the other day that said ‘Parents spend your whole childhood getting you to eat vegetables but protest when you become vegetarian’ and it extends further than that. Anyone who is not a veggie wants a piece of you. ‘What’s the point though, you’re one person you wont make a difference.’ Would you say that about an election? Off the back of my veggie journey at least 3 people I know have stopped eating meat, what if another 3 feel inspired by each of those 3 people? The more of us buying vegetarian and vegan alternatives like Quorn and own brand products, the more that will be researched, made, and sold. ‘Where do you get your protein from?’ Wow really, Google is a thing. ‘But you love Nandos?’ And still do! There is more to life than eating dead animals. The list of questions could go on for days.
I wanted to share some tips about my transition from dedicated meat eater to pescey (and then some!)
- Prepare! Research meals, find replacements for your favourite foods. We eat a lot of the same meals we did before but replace the meat with Quorn products or big vegetables like potato, butternut squash and suede.
- There is more to being vegetarian than the food you eat. Is your make-up cruelty free/vegan? Is your handbag made of real leather? These are all things to think about, replacing my entire make-up bag took a while but it is now 100% cruelty free and I would never change it.
- Remember you’re your own person. Do you have any deficiencies? I would suggest buying some tablets for the start of your journey like Iron, B12 or Zinc (the last two are amazing for hair and nail growth too!) We put spinach in most meals, if you don’t particularly like the taste you can add it to soups, ramen, pastas, stews and curries and you wont even notice you’re eating it.
- Remind yourself of why you’re making the change. I always look at my cat and think ‘I could not eat you so why would I eat *Insert innocent animal here*.
- Be creative! If you’re taking the journey with other people or know other vegetarians, go out to eat with them or invite people for dinner so that you can find new recipe ideas. We have recently subscribed to Simply Cook, they provide a box with recipes and sauces of your choice (we chose Vegetarian meals) for different world foods.
- Don’t let people dissuade you from your decision and trust me people will try, they will challenge you and offer you meat because ‘it’s only chicken’. Be your own person, work at your own pace and relish the challenge!
- Remember you are doing such a great thing for millions of innocent animals.
Are you thinking of making a change or have you already? What made you want to become Vegetarian? Share your stories below.
http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com – Fab blog reviewing different vegan and cruelty free brands, this is constantly updated with a list of which companies are and are not cruelty free!
Mew Roars For Cecil – Daniel John Cotton Wall