I adore animals, so the idea of eating them has always made me uneasy.
In 2004, while at college and eating pretty carelessly, I attempted to “go vegetarian”. I didn’t know much about nutrition – I ate meat-free pizzas, packaged soups and processed foods. After just one week I was drained of energy and falling asleep everywhere I could. So back to meat I went, thinking that’s just the way we have to live.
Since this experience, the idea of a plant-based diet kept nagging at me but I was hesitant, thinking it was going to be hard, particularly with my travels. I was worried it would be too restrictive when eating out and by jumping into this “category” I was opening myself up to the risk of failing, which would lead to judgment. So, because I wasn’t “ready yet”, I continued with my habit of consuming meat with every meal.
I was scared to try it because I was making the change a bigger, more intimidating deal than I needed to.
One night, I was out for dinner with a group of new friends and one of them had ordered a vegetarian dish. I asked her if she was vegetarian and she replied, “kind of, but I don’t like to label it”.
That resonated with me. There was a freedom that came without the label. There are no rules to be broken. Just conscious decisions to be made at each meal.
I decided to casually stop including meat in my meals to see how I would go. I looked up new recipes and in that process I started to learn… a lot. I was fascinated by everything I was reading about the human body, our digestive system and the strength of confusion that exists in our society from manipulating marketing.
A month had passed and I hadn’t once missed having chicken in my salad or beef in my stir-fry. I started to learn about new foods, that are actually easier to cook, and a heck of a lot more healthy. It was easy. It wasn’t intimidating. I just made simple decisions at every meal.
It has now been eight months since then and I feel fantastic. I still eat seafood occasionally and free-range eggs sometimes. I don’t need to eat at special restaurants as my friends often assume, and despite what I was fearful of, it has made ordering off any menu a heck of a lot easier.
With every single meal, I’m using my power of choice to do my bit for myself and the planet; and that’s a lot more powerful than you may think.
So, if you have any urges to do something, remember small changes make a big impact.