Thursday, 30 April 2015

Becoming Vegetarian

I actually had a mini internal debate with myself about writing a post on this - "Lauren, no one cares about your eating habits!" and "Anyone who might actually read your blog these days doesn't want to be preached at" - but the thing is, I'm not here to preach at anyone and also, while people may not care what I eat, some might be interested in the story behind it. That's what blogs are after all; stories from someone else's life. Plus, a while down the line, it might be interesting to look back on my own post and remind myself of what steered towards a lifestyle I had never really considered before.

I've always ate meat. I don't know of any vegetarians in my family when I was growing up and am only aware of one cousin now who eats a plant based diet! I love animals and always admired vegetarians because of their "will power" when it came to not eating meat. But I've now realised that will power has nothing to do with it.

Instagram is what started it all off. (What a very 2015 phrase!) I follow lots of healthy eating and fitness accounts, and had noticed my cousin Briana was in to healthy eating, especially a plant based diet. She told me about Freelee the Banana Girl on YouTube and one day I decided to check out her videos. While I watched in mild amusement at the thought of eating so many bananas everrrry daaaay (I'm not a huge fan of bananas!) a lot of what she said about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle made sense and was definitely appealing; mainly the health benefits and of course the fact that I wouldn't be contributing to the suffering of animals.

Following that I watched a few things on Netflix; Food Inc., Vegucated, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead are the main ones I can remember. I also watched more YouTube videos including 101 Reasons to Go Vegan, and Gary Yourofsky's speech to a college class. I cried at some stage during all of those documentaries and videos. I cannot stand to watch cruelty to animals and the suffering that they endure all because people want to eat meat and dairy products is heartbreaking. The vision in our heads of happy cows and pigs and chickens on the farm, happily grazing in the sunshine, are far removed from the reality of where our meat comes from. (Apologies if  this is beginning to sound preachy, I don't mean it to be, it's just facts.)

The reality of it is upsetting, and horrific for the animals involved. If someone treated one dog or cat in the same way as meat and dairy animals are treated, it would probably make the news and there would be outrage (remember the uproar over the lady who put a cat in a wheelie bin? And there are frequent reports of those who are neglectful of their own dogs being charged with animal cruelty), yet it happens every day to millions of animals all over the world, all for us to eat their flesh. One night after watching one of the Netflix documentaries I was making gammon for dinner. As I prepared it all I could think of was the pigs filmed in the slaughterhouses, squealing and crying and well aware that they are about to be killed. I knew I couldn't continue eating meat.

I have now been vegetarian for a month and I have to say that on the whole, I don't miss meat. On one occasion when ordering something from the chippy, I did get a pang of jealousy for my fiancé's chicken goujons, but I only have to think of poor chickens who rarely see the light of day and are overfed so that their carcasses look better on the supermarket shelf, and any desire for a goujon is gone. Onion rings are the way forward!

You may have noticed that most of the videos I watched that contributed to my decision were based on a vegan lifestyle, yet I have not became vegan. In fact as I mentioned in my last post, I even hesitate to call myself vegetarian - preferring to say that I've cut down on eating meat - mainly because of the questioning it tends to evoke! I have definitely cut back on my consumption of dairy; I use dairy free spread and almond or soy milk at home, but in work I've still been stuck with cow's milk for my tea! As of next week I am bringing soy milk with me. I do love cheese but to be honest 
I wouldn't be eating a huge amount of it normally, anyway. It's now mainly a topping for a pasta bake or pie if I make one (not to mention that most veggie options in restaurants tend to include cheese!).

As for eggs, my fiancé's business is in free range eggs so not only are they free for us, but I know for a fact that his chickens are treated well and are truly free range, wandering outside in the fields all day. If these eggs were not available I would not buy eggs at all as the treatment of hens in the egg industry is just as bad.

While I ultimately decided to give up meat for both the sake of the animals and also my own long term health (reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer), the immediate health benefits I have felt in the last month have really surprised me. Here is what I've experienced so far:

More energy, decreased lethargy
Better digestion, less bloating
Mental clarity, less brain fog
Better mood
Weight loss (9lbs so far)
Nails that actually grow

Most people probably don't suffer with lethargy, slow digestion, brain fog, bad moods and their weight to the extent that I do in the first place, as I have an under active thyroid, i.e: hypothyroidism. It makes you feel like crap, basically. It means my whole body is under active in every way, and I've got so used to being lethargic, tired, bloated and grumpy all the time that I had no idea how bad it was until I started feeling better. I no longer start falling asleep after lunch (despite my new job requiring a 6am alarm) or feel almost incapable of conversation after 3pm (brain fog at its finest). I haven't been to the gym in over a month due to my new job, and sit at a desk all day, yet I've dropped 9lbs without even trying. I had previously went to the gym 3 or 4 times a week for months and my weight merely fluctuated by a few lbs before rocketing up again! My body clearly likes being vegetarian so far and that is a huge benefit for me.

My vegetarian shepherd's pie

I am finally feeling human again and that, plus the health and happiness of animals everywhere, is keeping me on this lifestyle. Will I be a vegetarian forever?  I don't know. Why lock myself in a box in case I need to get out of it one day? However I really can't see me reverting to my old ways any time soon!

Are any of you vegetarian or vegan? I'd love to know your stories! Also if anyone is interested in a post or even video about what I eat please let me know, I know they're popular on YouTube! You can also follow me on Instagram for the odd meal photo too!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Life & Other Stuff

With blogging there is always times of writer's block and times when life gets in the way (cliché, I know!) however for me both of these reasons have been true. Inspiration doesn't rear its head often so when it struck again recently I thought I should make the most of it.

I still love my makeup and beauty products, however I have neither the time nor the money to try as much as I once did! I feel like this blog always did verge on a lifestyle blog too and that will probably be more of the direction it could go, should I continue to give it a go!

Plenty of things happened after I gave up on my 120 to Thailand series... funnily enough, I went to Thailand and had an amazing time! I would definitely recommend it and would love to go back, it's just all the travel that I dislike! I also got engaged at Christmas, started yet another new job and most recently decided to stop eating meat... I still hesitate to say that I'm a vegetarian just because as soon as I put a label on it people start questioning me and offering their advice and opinions on the matter and warning me how ill be anaemic in no time. (Ok great thanks for the warning... how about you give me such advice after you become a doctor or nutritionist!) Perhaps my choice to stop eating meat will be a blog post in the future!

Anyway, to anyone who happens to actually read this, THANK YOU, and hopefully you'll hear from me again soon!