Stylist.co.uk provides a forum for readers to share their unique views and talents. This week our reader columnist is Rebecca Richardson, 29, a freelance writer from London.
When did passing comment on the food habits of others become an acceptable practice? Since becoming a vegetarian."Mmmm that smells good, what is it?” On hearing that the dish contains zero meat, "Mmmm" quickly turns to "Hmmm". Cue the bemused looks, ill advised comments and questionable questions. Apparently, following a vegetarian diet should involve you popping vitamin pills until you rattle, to counterbalance the inevitable anaemic dizzy spells you will experience, and devouring the odd bacon sarnie, because "when you say you are following a vegetarian diet, that does include bacon sandwiches, doesn’t it?"
I made the choice to become a vegetarian almost three months ago, and I can hand on heart say I haven't once missed meat (apart from the fried chilli beef from my local chinese, which the fiancé is banned from ordering if we are to eat together). Pre-vegetarian my eating habits were not exactly wholeheartedly carnivorous, so perhaps it wasn't the greatest of challenges I could have set myself. In actual fact, it has felt like no challenge at all as it opened my eyes, and subsequently mouth, to a range of new and exciting dishes.
It was the watching of videos on the PETA website that spurred the lifestyle change, a change which I had always thought I could and should make since childhood. Barbaric practices used to farm and kill living, breathing, feeling beings were justified as necessary to keep up with our insatiable demand for their flesh. The intelligence of pigs outweighs that of dogs, and they mourn just as we do. Being told this whilst simultaneously being shown, at the hands of a farmer, a piglet's head being smashed on to the concrete floor of what was once its home, and discarded on to a pile of squealing dying siblings simply because it wasn't growing fast enough and therefore representing a potential loss of profit to the farmer, brought me to tears. I spent an entire day engrossed by the grossness of what I was discovering. By the end of the day I had built up a healthy appetite, for anything but meat, and yes, that includes bacon sandwiches.
"The comments and advice I have received (but not asked for), have been based on nothing more than outdated social and cultural teachings and stereotypes"
The opinions of my friends and family are, at best well meaning, at worst hold no meaning at all. On the whole, the comments and advice I have received (but not asked for), have been based on nothing more than outdated social and cultural teachings and stereotypes. My choice to follow a vegetarian diet is a considered one. Eating meat however wasn’t a considered choice, but a learnt cultural norm that, like many, I accepted without question. It would seem my meat-eating counterparts' knowledge of vegetarianism and what’s good for me, far outweighs my knowledge of it, despite the research and thought expended upon reaching my choice to not eat meat (which began in my teens).
Three months on and I am still going strong, literally. I maintain the strength to stand, and use a knife and fork. I am not yet on all fours desperately foraging for my next meal and source of energy, nor have I grown mangy fur in an attempt to keep warm through lack of nutrition. Yes, I am not an animal I am a human being! I am not anaemic, but thanks for asking, I appreciate your concern. My pale pallor is more a sign of my Celtic roots than any vitamin deficiency, something my mother fails to grasp as she again comments on how pale I am looking. I don’t rattle as I walk, and as I pass I like to think myself polite enough to not stop and comment on your need to eat meat. Ok, I admit, I have felt a little tired of late, from lack of substance, but not of the food variety. I’m tired of the lack of substance in some meat eater’s opinions of vegetarianism.
Picture credit: Rex Features
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