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A MATTER OF CHOICE
Member Name: lak11
Date: 16/02/11, updated on 10/07/12 (152 review reads)
Advantages: Often healthier. A clear conscience.
Disadvantages: Eating out can be difficult. Can feel like 'the odd one out!
Well you make a choice and try to stick by it. My choice is to not eat meat. I would say at the moment I'm a pescatarian but, admittedly I do feel guilty about eating fish and I aim to phase this also from my diet. The reason though that I do still eat fish is because although I don't like the thought of fishing and wouldn't do it, I don't love fish in the way that I do many animals. If I was starving I would be able to fish and prepare fish much easier than a rabbit for example. Because of this I can 'live' with myself for eating fish but feel much too guilty to consume meat.
Even in my years of eating meat I couldn't eat duck or venison and certainly not veal. Or rabbit. I first decided at the age of fifteen, in the 1970s, not to eat meat. This happened after a family holiday in Suffolk. The place where we stayed had many wild rabbits running around outside in the countryside. Everyone seemed to be saying 'Ahhh!' on seeing the rabbits but weren't affected when seeing the dead rabbits strung up in a local butchers shop.
I also feel that animals are not dealt with humanely. I don't delve into this and don't want to go about this in my review. But I cannot accept many a meat eaters' argument that the animals are there for us and were meant to be eaten as we are at the top of the food chain. Years ago it would have seemed as if these creatures were there for us; times were simpler then. I feel we should have by now evolved. Often I am given arguments such as 'Look at the Bible! Jesus ate meat' or 'What about the fatted calf?' well to me this is a ridiculous argument as thousands of years ago many people were nomadic, making cultivation of food not a good option. And Quorn or soya weren't discovered. I don't feel that anyone would starve if abstaining from eating meat in the modern western world. However, I accept that most meat is tasty; the copy products are not as good yet, and it is difficult sometimes to refrain. I have managed not to lapse though.
And in general, I feel meat eating is not a healthy option. Okay, we need iron for our bodies to work properly, which is obtained from red meat, but so much fat and low quality products can be found in products such as pies and sausages. I don't think a meat diet is especially good for humans.
You may think I would be happy that my seventeen year old daughter has recently stopped eating meat. But as she has had episodes of anaemia in the past I am concerned. Also she doesn't particularly enjoy eating vegetables. But the anaemia occurred in fact, while she was still eating meat, so is not caused by her becoming vegetarian (she has never been much of a consumer of red meat.) but I feel that it would have been preferable for her to hold off with this decision for a year or two, for the sake of her well being.
I find that because I cook for my family, who mostly eat meat, that I am often cooking meat dishes. I first stopped eating meat when I was fifteen and then started to eat it again, after about twelve years, for reasons that I won't go into now. I used to be strict in my meat free diet.
All those years ago it was harder to abstain from eating meat as it is today. One reason being that Quorn was unheard of. There were a few soya products to be found but these were only available from health food shops, certainly not most, if any, supermarkets. They were very expensive too. Still are, in fact, but if purchased in supermarkets, then offers can be found.
In the 1970s and even the 1980s there wasn't the interesting choice of vegetables in the shops as can now be found. Sunday dinner was always a joint of meat with potatoes cooked around it, served with a selection of vegetables-two or three from the following selection- peas, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, spring greens, runner beans or Brussels sprouts. Well, I like most of these but if one eats vegetables often, then a wide choice is desirable. I hadn't sampled artichokes, asparagus, and aubergines, to name but a few. Even salads then were pretty basic.
When I was a child and then a young woman, it was unusual, in fact thought to be very strange, to be vegetarain. I remember at primary school knowing one girl who would always go home for lunch saying the reason being that she was, along with her family, vegetarian. To her classmates this was very strange, and in fact unimaginable. Well, I have been asked several times, when declaring that I don't eat meat, 'But you do eat ham don't you!?'
When I stopped eating meat while I was at secondary school I can remember the consensus being: you won't keep it up.
And when dining out the only 'vegetarian choice' would be an omelette or salad. When I met my husband- to- be we found that the best choice in meat free food (for myself) was to be had in an Indian restaurant (still is probably) and we would also visit a Greek kebab house where the chef would sort out something for me which was always tasty. But a dedicated vegetarian cooking area would have ben an unusual thing to find, I think. Well, things have changed now, I believe. While there are still many who believe not wanting to eat meat is strange and unnatural; that animals are there for the sole reason of providing us superior mortals with a good Sunday lunch, most seem to still accept, and respect, this choice in others.
But, although I had been brought up to believe a meat diet was perfectly normal; not a thing to think about, since, as a child, (of about seven or eight years of age) when reading the book 'Charlotte's web' I never again really felt comfortable with eating meat. Whenever I visited a pet's corner type place, or saw lambs gambolling in the fields, I found I couldn't look a sheep, pig or cow, in the eye! But abstaining from eating meat isn't always easy, especially, in my opinion, if you are cooking and serving it to your family and friends.
Because of the fact that I still cook meat, I find myself trying to find meat free alternatives for myself and my teenage daughter who has, quite recently also, given up meat. If the whole family were vegetarian then I don't think I would buy foods that emulated meat but instead eat more vegetable type meals which I could prepare and serve to my family.
And now I have again stopped eating meat and feel this will be a permanent choice. I was surprised when I made this decision, about eight or nine years ago, to see how things have changed and improved. Now to buy meat free food one doesn't have to find a health food shop and always pay such a high price for the meat alternative. Mince alternatives can be found made from Quorn and soya, in frozen chilled and dried states. No longer is the choice of sausages only to be a soya sausalet! No, now the sausages can be found as Lincolnshire, or sausages with apple, or sun dried tomatoes... or even a good old banger! But I'll be honest...I find those that aren't trying so hard to taste like meat are usually the better option. My favourites are cheese and leak rather than a banger. The meat type ones are quite good but, as a former meat eater, I insist that I can tell the difference in both taste and texture. They aren't, regrettably as good in flavour. Though that doesn't really matter to me. What does matter is that I can cook sausage and mash for some of the family and 'fake' sausages for the rest. The same goes with Bolognese-I cook two separate dishes. But it is much, much easier nowadays.
For my part, I don't often miss eating meat but I do find it a little difficult sometimes when on holiday. Many Mediterranean hotels do not serve a good vegetarian option and I often feel very second rate in the restaurant. Even in this country the vegie option is often poor and lacking in imagination. I'm fed up with pasta in tomato and cheese sauce!
I sometimes miss convenience food. Although never a lover of Macdonald's I could on occasion enjoy a quarter pounder, if just for the convenience of eating a 'fast food' meal. I don't like veggie burgers from most places.
Life in the kitchen is harder now owing to having to cook for the omnivores and the herbivores. Sometimes it's difficult to know what to cook and it does get complicated.
But generally things are easier than they were some decades ago; now one can even buy 'fake' ham, bacon and chicken roll although I don't find the cold deli type 'fakes' that good. I prefer to have a sandwich filled with vegetarian cheese or 'vegemite.'
So now that I don't eat meat I can enjoy seeing farm animals without feeling wicked. I wouldn't say I am particularly healthier but then again I am no worse. If I had previously eaten a lot of red meat then perhaps I would have noticed the difference.
Now I am not a strict vegetarian as this review must show; I wouldn't want to be a vegan, or feel the need to be but I respect those that do. But I often get asked questions which are meant to trip me up, such as, 'Do you wear fur or leather?' I would not wear any fur. To my way of thinking, this is far worse than eating meat as it is totally unnecessary and only done for vanity's sake. I also would not choose to buy leather clothing or furniture, but wouldn't chastise those that did. But sadly, as I have a medical condition which prevents me being able to buy shoes from high street stores I have to have shoes made for me from the hospital orthotics department. Unfortunately these may be made from leather. If I had an easy choice here it would be not to wear anything made from animals which involved them being killed for the privilege.
I am glad I made this life style choice and would have liked it if my husband was like minded. But he isn't and won't change now. It has never really been an issue, as long as the children were allowed to make their own decisions, which they have. But for those who wish to not eat meat, then at least now things are somewhat easier for them. In this I am glad.
Summary: The right choice for me.