Today, an ever-growing community of people are keeping animals off their plates in an effort to better their health, animal welfare, and the environment. Going meat-free has so many benefits that once you’re there, you won’t look back – but sometimes kick-starting this new lifestyle can seem tough-going. Read on to discover how I made the change, and stuck to it in, Meat vs Veg: Is There Really Any Contest?
When I embarked upon my meat-free journey, I mainly did so for ethical reasons. I found I could not sit at home cherishing my dog, and simultaneously contribute to the suffering of other animals – I didn’t want to be a hypocrite any longer. As somebody passionate about protecting the planet, knowing that ditching meat was the single biggest positive impact I could have on the environment was a huge incentive too.
But having now achieved the meat-free diet I aimed for, I’m realising that my body loves its new fuel! Almost as a byproduct of cutting out meat, vegetarians often end up eating healthier, taking in more fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are abundant in foods that vegetarians often replace meat with. Consequently, research shows that vegetarians are less at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and more, as well as feeling much better within themselves day by day.
Meat-free diets have been shown to optimise sports performance too. A lot of athletes tend to focus on high-protein intake in the form of meat and dairy, but some research suggests otherwise. The number of world-dominating meat-free sportspeople is increasing rapidly – think David Haye, Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams.
Despite reaping the rewards of vegetarianism now, I didn’t find the diet easy to adopt in the beginning. When you’ve been reliant on meat your entire life and simply love the taste, cutting it out entirely (or going, excuse the phrase, ‘cold turkey’) can be daunting. I found the answer was to progress slowly, removing food groups one by one, and to settle into each dietary change before moving forward.
First, I cut out red meats, then poultry, and then finally, seafood. The trick is to try not to lean on any of the remaining meats in your diet while you’re cutting out others. For example, instead of replacing red meats with chicken, keep your poultry consumption the same, and instead swap red meats for vegetarian alternatives.
These alternatives are becoming cheaper, more accessible, and tastier by the day. Entire restaurants are now devoted to meat-free dining and most supermarkets have incorporated Free-From sections into their aisles. The longer you persevere, the easier it becomes due to the law of habit and because more and more people are embarking upon the meat-free journey with you.
I haven’t completed my journey yet however. I am currently reducing my dairy intake, making my way towards veganism. Some days I’ll eat completely vegan, and others just one or two of my meals are vegan – but that’s still progress!