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Why you should consider a more plant based diet and how to do it.

So at the start of 2020 I decided to give up meat and fish!

“Urgh not you as well?” hear you sigh!

Hear me out. This isn’t a preachy blog post.

I wanted to explain my journey on this somewhat polarising topic as I feel I can give a more rounded and objective viewpoint to the conversation.

The transition started a few years ago. My parents being pescatarian for a number of years had often discussed with me about the quantity of meat that I ate.

I ate a lot of meat.

Chicken every day for lunch with different meat for dinner and maybe even eggs for breakfast five times a week!

As a product of the fitness industry, I insisted I needed it for my protein and to be a high-performance machine and maintain my muscle and strength.

I was wrong.

How it started

It began on a trip to Australia with my parents a few years ago. As they were Pescatarian when we cooked at home we ate fish and when we ate out I would normally have fish too.

The benefit of being right by the coast is that the fish is fresh out of the sea so it was delicious. I may have had a little meat out there but it was minimal.

This trip really put into perspective my attachment to eating large quantities of meat and this sparked me looking into the ethical and health implications of my meat addiction.

When I returned I switched to 5:2 pescatarian to omnivore. I would have eggs and meat at the weekends but fish during the week. The meat that I did buy would also be organic, which meant it was free-range and not pumped full of chemicals and the food it ate was organic. As this meat is expensive the quantity was naturally reduced.

I simultaneously started experimenting with vegetarian meals during the week that were rich in protein and flavour. I continued like this for about a year or so.

Within this time, I upped the quality of my vegetables. I began eating organic veg as much as I could afford and access as once I thought about the quality of my food it made sense. I don’t want my vegetables to be sprayed with toxic chemicals or genetically modified as I want to eat as healthily and close to natures intention as possible.

The turning point for me

What changed for me was when I attended a Buddhist retreat where the meals being prepared were vegetarian. Well actually they were vegan but we had access to milk, butter, cheese and eggs should we have wished!

This is where I learnt a few things.

Firstly I learnt that there is a huge variety of dishes you can prepare that are easy to cook, delicious and solely vegan. This was a big change in my head as I recall having vegan friends come to stay with me once and I was baffled at what I could cook! A sentiment I know many people share!

Secondly, Buddhism teaches that we should reduce our harm to the planet and refrain from causing harm to any sentient beings. Even mosquitos!

As I have learnt about Buddhism more over the years I do feel that it is a beautifully clean way to aspire to live to. It reduces harm to one another and our environment and whether or not you believe in God it is a way of living we can all aspire to, that benefits all.

The week on my retreat gave me time to reflect on my choices of what I ate and realising that indeed I do have a choice.

My previous choices were wilfully ignoring how the meat gets to the shops. It ignores the abhorrent conditions most of the animals are kept in throughout their lives. It ignores the fear and suffering that is caused when they are sent to the abattoir to be slaughtered.

It’s one thing deciding to eat meat and eating an animal that has lived a pleasant life outside and then is shot outside not surrounded by the stress of the slaughterhouse but let’s face it, that is very rarely the case unless you eat game.

Even fishing is the killing of a sentient being which is not the Buddhist way however take Buddhism out of it. If you go and fish your own fish yourself then fair enough. However commercial fishing is raping our seas of their life and there is huge collateral damage called “bycatch”. Where 40% of the catch consists of unintended fish that die including endangered specials, turtles and dolphins.

The Dairy industry is also pretty cruel as it turns out. They keeps cows constantly in a state of pregnancy and their calves are taken away from their mothers causing distress for them both. Then after 10 months of milk production they are inseminated again. The cows are in a constant state of stress as they need to produce so much milk and then at the age of about 5 years they are sent off to slaughter.

During this retreat, I decided that I could make a small difference to the world and to reduce some of the suffering that goes on because of humans.

Leaving the retreat I became predominantly Vegetarian unless I visited my mum who had forgotten I was intending to not eat any more meat or fish. Of course, I obliged rather than waste food.

Out with the Meat!

That leads me to 2020. When I no longer ate meat or fish. I learnt new dishes and by this time my Mindset had changed. It was an easy transition and I haven’t looked back.

In fact, my day to day shop is plant-based. The times I ate dairy and eggs where mainly when I ate Take away’s which was far too regularly in 2020! Anyone else?!

I really enjoy plant-based living. There’s a huge variety in the food that you can eat, so much flavour and it really does feel good knowing you are making a difference.

I haven’t noticed any negative side effects as such although due to the quantity of rubbish food I had in addition that year may not have been the best representation.

Not eating meat and fish anymore? I am over it. No regrets.