In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.
‘Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be warned. When you tell people you’re a plant-based vegetarian, a lot of the responses you get will be arguments. You can feel like you’re being continuously attacked, and may even start to bow to peer pressure and think it might just be easier to go back to being an omnivore. These pressures can even come from your own family. I first turned vegetarian when I was nine, but thanks to incorrect advice from our GP my parents forced me to eat meat for another four years. When I cut it from my diet for the final time, my mum loved to tell people that I was attention-seeking, had an eating disorder or was ‘going through a phase’. She still does it now, although in my defence the ‘phase’ has been going on for over 20 years. My family members also seem to like bringing up things from the past. ‘You might say you’re a vegetarian, but when you were six your favourite food was ham.’ Yes, when I was six. My favourite TV show back then was Rainbow, but people and things change.
Even after twenty years of getting dragged into arguments that I really don’t want to, it still grinds me down sometimes. I just keep telling myself that argument is simply a natural human defence. When we are faced with something different to what we know that we don’t quite understand, our instincts tell us to stand our guard and defend our truth. I’m sure that when Christopher Columbus first suggested the Earth wasn’t flat he met a similar reaction.
The best way to smoothly slide your way out of these situations is to know more about the subject so that you can counter their argument. For example:
Them: ‘Humans are meant to eat meat because we have canine teeth.’
You: ‘Actually, the canine teeth we have are similar to those of apes and are for use as a threat when a predator gets to close. You’d need lots of sharp teeth very close together, for example like a cat, to eat meat efficiently. Don’t believe me? Try eating a chicken leg using only your canine teeth.’
I have amassed a whole back catalogue of these responses over the years. Thankfully, as the world becomes more aware of the impact we have on the planet, people are more educated about food and the environment nowadays. As a result, their responses to hearing the words ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ aren’t as dramatic. It’s been a few years since anyone has asked me why I’m scared of catching CJD. I’m still confused about this one as I turned veggie well before the CJD scare and, as the disease spread in the 80s, if I was going to get it I would already have it regardless of what I ate now.
I’ll bet there are a few arguments out there that I am still to hear, but one thing is for sure – I’m ready for them.