Friday, 1 September 2017

The fashionable V's

This post is sure to spark some form of controversy but its time to talk about the fashionable V's. That is vegetarianism and veganism.

Before I commence this post I'd like to say that I think everyone should be free to do whatever they want to do and to eat however they want to eat. In fact, some of my closest friends follow these particular lifestyles and I support them 1000%. However, I want to take the time to discuss my experiences of these lifestyles and some of the things I've noticed.

Firstly, I think the title of this post gives my overall opinion of vegetarianism and veganism; I think it is now a fashion statement, another way to fit into a society that has many standards. This, in my opinion, is more true for veganism than vegetarianism. 2 years ago I didn't know anything about veganism or know anyone who was vegan. Nowadays everyone knows a vegan. I am not at all saying being a vegan is bad (I will talk about the reasons why we need to actually have vegan days in our diet later) but my point is that it has become a way to fit into society. So many celebrities are vegan and I am sure some of them probably aren't vegan for ethical or health reasons but rather to get more coverage and to reach wider audiences.

So like quite a few people I tried my hand at vegetarianism and to some degree veganism. Here is my story:

Going vegetarian, had for a while, been something that I wanted to do. In September of 2016 I took the plunge with my flatmate and we both cut out fish and meat from our diets. At this point I also chose to cut out milk from my diet, instead drinking rice milk. It's important also to say that I can't eat eggs and that I've never been a fan of yogurts so the only dairy product that I was comsuming was cheese. I very quickly began losing weight, and after 3 months of following this lifestyle I was eating less and less and ended up losing almost a stone in weight, leaving me at a BMI of 15.3. My hair began falling out and I was constantly tired. A lack of balance started to take its toll on my mental health and at Christmas, whilst mum respected my decision, she convinced me to reintroduce fish back into my diet. However, once I was back at university I went back to my completely vegetarian way of eating. It wasn't until Easter 2017 that a trip to the doctor, shed some light onto the state of my body due to the lack of food I was putting into it and the lack of variety that it was recieving. Anyway, skip forward to today and I eat white meat and fish in order to try to maintain a somewhat healthier weight and to give my body the various nutrients that it needs. If you want to try the vegetarian/veganism lifestyle then I would say, don't cut everything out overnight like I did. I think my body probably went into shock hence why I became unhealthy following this particular lifestyle.

I have to add that with a little time away from a vegetarian lifestyle that whilst I think vegan and vegetarian diets are really important, I don't believe they are the healthiest for our bodies over long periods of time. Eating meat everyday is 100% bad for you, bad for the planet and awful, of course, for the animals. Animals, these days, are pumped with so many chemicals in order to make them perfect for the food market that it isn't surprising that as humans we suffer from so many various illnesses. As what the animals eat, we in turn digest. Having said that, I don't believe that a completely vegan diet is healthy for us either. I think for a while veganism is great and can have so many health benefits but eventually your body runs out of its stocks of various things and I think eventually in turn it creates problems as well. A lack of B12 seems to be the issue that a lot of vegans and vegetarians face as the only way to get it is from animals. In my year of vegetarianism/dipping into veganism I've learnt that actually you don't need to be at either extremes and that, like in all aspects of life, balance is key. These days I eat white meat once a week (although I am finding it hard to cook it for myself and so may decide to go pescatarian) and fish once a week. The rest of the time I follow a vegetarian diet, mixed with some vegan meals.

I think to some extent vegetarianism and veganism is a way for supermarkets to make more money by creating dietary alternatives, supplements ect. I wholeheartedly believe that we can all live more ethically but equally we need to look after our health. Living ethically isn't just about what we put in our mouths, but also consumerism, the clothes we wear and how much we waste etc.

Veganism is, in some forms, a movement that has created almost violent activists who shame anyone who eats meat or any animal products. Luckily the vegans I am closest too aren't pushy activists and we can have adult conversations about the various lifestyles whilst being accepting of the other persons choices. What I don't understand is that if meat eaters have to respect vegans then that respect should go the other way too. Everyone should be free to eat however they wish and make the choices that are best for them.

If I could be healthy and vegan would I do it? Probably, yes. However, for now, I haven't found the way to do that. For my body and my mental health it is better for me to continue eating the way I do. For the environment and for the animals of course it isn't the best way to eat. I do hope one day that I can find a more ethical way to eat whilst still remaining balanced.Yet, like all fashion trends, in a couple of years no one will be talking about veganism anymore. The celebrities won't be able to get coverage based on that anymore and it will go back to just being the people who are being vegan for the right reasons.

Veganism and vegetarian diets are important but I think they are important in a balanced way. For some people they work and for others they don't. And for those who find that these particular lifestyles don't work well for them they shouldn't be made to feel guilt or shame.

Balance is different for everyone, but find what balance is for yo. For me balance is eating some white meat and fish and that is okay.

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