I have decided to break the habit of a lifetime and talk about why I am a vegetarian. This has been prompted by a news story today on the BBC. This features an American study of 120,000 people which found eating processed and red meat can greatly increase the chance of heart disease and cancer. I then also read this morning a report about the relative greenhouse gases produced from what we eat by Mike Burners-Lee. This study found that a vegetarian diet could mean 20% less greenhouse gases are emitted.
I have been vegetarian for over 30 years and it has never been difficult for me to sick to as I never really liked meat and as a child would only pick at it because I was told I should. Sometimes people ask me why I am a vegetarian and I usually say it is because I don’t like meat but it is more than that. Even as a child I could always see the animal I was being told to eat. To me it was the same as someone else being asked to eat a rat, a family pet or even a human. Why would you want to if you weren’t starving or in some awful air crash in the Andes mountain. I don’t believe animals have been put here just for us to eat. Walking past a butcher for me is disgusting and makes me sad, whereas walking past a green grocer is uplifting and energising. I don’t however make judgements about what anyone else should do. My children are vegetarian but when in turn they reached the age of 5 I sat them down and explained that although they wouldn’t get meat at home, if they went to friend’s houses for sleep overs or for parties or at school with school dinners they could chose what they wanted to eat. They still know this but so far they are vegetarian which I admire because it can still be pretty tough to be ‘different’. Who knows what they will want to do when they are adults – that’s really up to them. My daughter has tried ham as she was accidentally provided with a ham sandwich at school, and she has tried fish with her father but she did not enjoy the experience and so far hasn’t chosen to repeat it.
I also now see meat as a human equity issue. Often when people are taken out of exreme poverty the first things they do are send their children to school, buy basic necessities and then choose to eat more meat. The world cannot sustain the whole human population eating as much meat and diary as the ‘Western’ diet so it is only ‘fair’ that the Western diet should contain less meat and diary. Luckily this is now proven to be a good thing for human and planetary health. I have seen so many amazing vegetarian/vegan/raw food recipes on WordPress blogs that there is no reason why we can’t all make small changes to our diet.
What am I going to change? Well, I am aware of my hypocritical habit of eating dairy. Unfortunately, calves are killed on dairy farms as part of the cycle as cows need to give birth regularly to keep them producing milk, so my changes will be to make sure we go vegan at least two days a week. This will no doubt bring health benefits to us.