So I don’t eat meat.
Is that such an issue? I am constantly ragged about the fact that I choose not to put animal meat into my body and it annoys me to no end, so this is my little rant to release all of that negative energy.
I live in South Africa, which means that a lot of the culture in this country surrounds meat – hunting it, eating it, drying it, braaing it, which makes it a big issue to some people when they meet a vegetarian. So let me address a few “oh my god, you’re a vegetarian” comments:
1. Why would you choose to stop eating meat?
There are honestly hundreds of reasons for not eating meat, which I have never pushed onto anyone at all. If you are interested in understanding this, there is a brilliant list here on the Greenside Cafe website which state very simply 101 reasons to go veg. Some will really make you think more about what you put into your own body and also the impact that it has on the world we live in, so I hope you do read it.
2. But what do you eat?
This is my absolute favourite. Because clearly if you don’t eat meat, there is nothing in the world that you can eat and you will starve and die a slow, tasteless death. Vegetarian food is far tastier than any meat dish I have ever had (I have not been vegetarian my whole life, so yes, I have eaten meat before and no, I don’t miss it). Vegetarian food is so much tastier than meat dishes because it doesn’t rely on the taste of animal juices for its flavour. You actually have to think about the different tastes and textures that you are putting into your food and end up with a far more creative and flavourful meal. They are also far healthier because as a vegetarian, you always need to ensure that you are getting enough protein, fats, omegas etc. in your food and so actually design your meals around nutrition as well as taste.
3. So how do you go to a braai without meat?
The last time I checked, a braai (barbecue) in South Africa was about the social gathering, not the meat.
4. So how do you get your protein?
You would actually be surprised at how little protein you actually need in a day and at how many different kinds of foods contain protein. I’m not going to go into a technical discussion here, but yes it is possible to get enough of the right kind of protein without needing meat.
5. Isn’t it boring?
Refer to point 2 above. I LOVE food, and I mean really LOVE food. No, it isn’t boring, it’s very very interesting…try it, I dare you.
6. Do you mind if other people eat meat around you?
Of course not! Who am I to judge other people’s eating choices?
7. But is that healthy?
Seriously, it’s nothing to freak out about.
In the end, it is my body and my own well-being and I definitely get to decide what I put into my body without having to explain myself at every meal. If someone doesn’t like olives, for instance, it would really not be a big deal, you would just say “Oh”. But say the “V” word and the whole world falls apart.
My body, my mind, my decisions.