Transitioning to Vegetarian

It was feeling disgust at the thought of meat, and thinking, Oh God, I really have to do this, that made me think becoming vegetarian was like a gender transition.

I have long known that vegetarianism is a good choice. In nomad cultures, humans are in a symbiotic relationship with domesticated animals: we look after sheep, and take their wool, milk and meat. We save them from other predators. We find them green pastures. In modern factory farming, we are increasingly parasites, torturing them. We keep them in tiny cages, we prevent them from rolling over, we keep them pregnant constantly, we take their young away, we butcher the young. Meat is cruelty. I met a woman who would eat game, for this reason that the animals are free until they are shot, but grouse are systematically bred for the gun.

Meat is also cruel to the staff of abattoirs, who must kill animals all day, all week, clean up their blood and excrement, are paid minimum wage and are brutalised. Meat is cruel to farm workers.

Meat is wasteful of the Earth’s resources. There is not have enough land to feed everyone the meat-rich Western diet, even if all wild species are killed off.

I knew it was right for me, but balked at the effort it would involve. I was used to eating meat.

So I started experimenting. When out with my vegan friend I ate vegetarian, after being embarrassed to eat a rather lovely sea bass while she ate chips. We ate a lot of chips together after that. I found groups where people were vegetarian. Quaker shared meals are typically vegetarian. I would eat veggie meals with friends, and it would all seem perfectly normal. Then I would go home and find I was craving a bacon roll. How can I be vegetarian, if I cannot have a meat free day?

I found if I fried veg in a lot of olive oil, I no longer craved meat. I was after the fat, not the meat. Now I wonder whether I can interpret my cravings. I want a balanced, healthy diet. Will I know if I need protein? I don’t even know what is a reasonable size of meal. I have cooked the same things for years, and have to learn new things to cook. I baked a butternut squash, first googling to learn how: bake the seeds separately, as they are also tasty.

Society is arranged for the majority, not the minority. There is little fresh fruit and veg in the village shops. This minority is sometimes mocked, derided and despised.

I will eat meat if I want it, and will preserve this rule. I am still an aspirational vegetarian, rather than firmly and definitely vegetarian. It has to be what I want, rather than what I feel fits for anyone else.

24 thoughts on “Transitioning to Vegetarian

  1. For some people going vegetarian can be an act of virtue, but don’t feel guilty if you don’t stick to it, most vegetarians/vegans don’t. And don’t let it become a source of anxiety. Just be realistic.

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  2. Considering the eating of vegetables, as it may be compared to my own transition, I would say that it really was a pre-transition thing. That is, just as with my salads, dressing was on the side. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It has occurred to me that I sometimes find myself vegetating in my transition. Or, maybe it has become so ordinary that I don’t even have to give it a thought. Thank God I can turn to your blog to get me thinking again! As Popeye sings, “I’m strong to the finich, ’cause I eat me spinach…….”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Good Deeds Not Required | Truth and Tolerance

  5. Congrats on the transition! It is an amazing moment for people, I know it was for me. I started a blog just recently and will be posting easy vegetarian meals and snacks as well as vegan ones, if you ever need some extra ideas!!

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    • Welcome, Emily. Thank you for commenting. That sounds useful and interesting.

      Unfortunately I lost half a stone (seven pounds) in two weeks, and that worried me. I did not need to lose weight, and understand the body loses muscle rather than fat without proper care and exercise. So I am back to being an aspirant, with five meat meals this week, while I learn more about cooking and my needs.

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  6. I have a concept, I am not sure if I am absolutely precise on it. May be its an idea that we see plants and animals from a different perspective as compared just as sources of food. It’s way too long to type here, so I am attaching the link:

    https://nirzardoshi.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/carbon-footprint-an-issue-for-food-industries/

    It can be a solution to explaining people how they damage the environment by having a dead animal in their plate everyday.

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    • Welcome, Nirzar. Thank you for commenting. Your comment was in the spam folder, but does not look like spam to me.

      I read your post, which I read as saying there was a large carbon footprint from growing meat for food, rather than seeing animals from a different perspective. I think a religious perspective can affect how we see the world, including the biosphere, as a thing of beauty and wonder to be respected not exploited.

      Congratulations on your new blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Clare, there are a lot of reforms needed to the industry for the sole reason that we have messed with nature for over hundreds of years and now, we need to pay for what was done. The Damage. Rather, we are adding more damage to nature.

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  7. Hi Clare! Glad to hear you appreciate vegan/vegetarianism.

    I’ve been vegan for almost 2 years now, after being vegetarian for a summer. A lot of, well, humans, despite me for it, but I don’t give a damn.

    You mentioned that you craved the fat in the foods, hence why you sought out a lot of oily things for the sake of veganism. Fat is good, its a very slow burning fuel that can aid us in survival. But eating a lot of it, which is really easy in a car-driven, sedentary, factory-farmed society, can mess you up big time as you may know!

    The biggest mistake I see vegans/vegetarians make is not eating enough volume and/or calories of food. Oily foods and meats allow us to take in adequate calorie content for our body’s needs without the need for a larger volume of food, but when all you eat is rice, beans, pasta, fruit, nuts, cheeseless pizza, and whatever else, you gotta carb the fuck up. When I say carb the fuck up, I’m referring to filling your glycogen (stored sugar) stores in your liver and muscles to the absolute max by eating as much as your stomach can handle, without pounding down a lot of oil cuz that’ll make you feel sluggish and shitty. The whole 2000 kcal a day bullshit doesn’t work when you’re vegan. You need more, because your body becomes better at burning through sugar AND fat. I aim for 3000 kcal when I’m sedentary, and 4000-4500 if I’m cycling that day. Hope that helps any aspiring vegetarians and vegans! 😀

    Also, the biggest reasons to stay vegan are ones you had already mentioned. Animal torture, severe human psychiatric consequences, fatal planetary consequences. I do respect meat-hunters who hunt an animal to feed their family for several months at a time. That is far more sustainable for the planet than factory farming, which is an extremely wasteful process.

    Lastly, believe me, I totally get the whole meat-cravings thing. If you live in an urban area in 2018, it is getting much easier to find vegan dishes that are incredibly meaty and deliver the umami taste of animal flesh through plants instead. I think that fake meats or spiced jackfruit is a great way for people to transition into veganism and eventually high-carbohydrate, high-nutrient veganism.

    Love,
    Pres ❤

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