At the end of 2019, I was feeling pretty shitty.
I’d spent most of December drinking copious amounts of alcohol, eating brie like my life depended on it and cancelling more exercise classes than I went to.
I’d also lost interest in my copywriting business and had absolutely no motivation to do anything that didn’t involve sitting in front of the TV, binging Jeffree Star videos.
So, like everyone else on the planet, I vowed it’d be different in January. I wanted to give up my vices and lead a better, healthier life. I quit alcohol for the month, donated my remaining tobacco and decided that in 2020, I’d give up meat.
Everyone around me was slightly confused about the last decision. Why did I want to go veggie? Was I trying to be trendy, or had I eaten a dodgy McDonald’s and couldn’t face the stuff anymore?
Yes, eating less or no meat is good for the planet and everyone’s doing it at the moment, but I was desperate to redefine my relationship with food.
While I enjoy cooking using fresh ingredients, there’s no denying that I should be eating more vegetables. My meals were often beige and veg was always the afterthought.
“Oh shit… I’ll shove some peas on, they only take a couple of minutes,” was something I said on a semi-regular basis.
Anyway, I had my last quarter-pounder on New Year’s Eve and the next day, I stopped eating meat. It’s now February and I wanted to reflect on how I did it, what I’ve learned and whether I’ll be continuing in the future (pssst, I am!).
It was even easier than I expected
Going from full carnivore to herbivore after 25 years is a tall ask, so I chose to go pesky instead of full veggie to start with. And yes, I know loads of people go full vegan without a transition period, but that’s not my vibe right now, get off my back.
Fortunately, going meat-free is pretty easy, especially when you live in Southern England. Shoreditch (where I work) is heaving with fantastic vegetarian restaurants, so finding some delicious burger alternatives also wasn’t difficult.
We also use a meal-planning app which has vegetarian/vegan options, so making our evening meals more exciting and nutritious than the potato or pasta heavy meals I’d have come up with alone.
Limiting my choices was a good thing
I 100% don’t condone diets or restrictive eating. Diets don’t work and restricting entire food groups to lose weight is dangerous and encourages disordered eating.
However, by cutting meat from the ‘food I can eat’ list, I’m forced to choose other alternatives that I’d previously shunned for a steak or burger. This means I’ve enjoyed delicious meals and eaten plenty of things outside my normal comfort zone.
It’s encouraged me to try food I didn’t like before, like tomatoes and chickpeas, and drastically increased the number of dishes I can make.
Cutting out meat has also stopped me from eating so much fast food. I’ve still enjoyed a pizza and veggie burgers, but instead of opting for a McDonald’s when I don’t want to cook, I’ve been kinda forced to make food instead. This has obviously had a positive impact on my diet and probably saved me a few quid here and there.
Meat-alternatives are better than they used to be
I’m well aware that going meat-free nowadays is easier because the meat-alternatives are so much better. You don’t have to say goodbye to burgers, sausages or mince.
The options available are so tasty and while they’re not the same as the original, sometimes they’re actually tastier.
The Beyond Meat patty is widely celebrated, but I tried a battered quinoa burger from Oasi in London and it was delicious. Thanks to the demand, people are creating innovative alternatives that make it easy to dump meat.
It’s reduced my shopping bill dramatically
My partner hasn’t gone meat-free with me, but we eat dinner together, so he’s a part-time pesky. However, this means that instead of dropping £10-20 a week on meat alone, our food shop primarily features vegetables, sauces and herbs.
And WOW, what a difference this has made. Before, we’d struggle to keep the bill below £60, but now I’m often unable to get it over the £40 minimum for my online shop.
This is a major plus, and while our weekly bill wasn’t unmanageable, being able to save money is always a plus.
I’m keeping it up
I spoilt this in the intro, but SURPRISE, I’m continuing my meat-free life.
One day, I want to phase out fish and head towards Vegan-Ville, but instead of feeling bad for not being a super eco-warrior, I’m focusing on changing my relationship with food for good.
I’m continuing to explore new recipes, create healthier meals and eating to fuel my body instead of always overindulging.
I don’t think most of my friends would have ever predicted I’d go kinda-veggie and if I’m honest, I didn’t either. But it’s 2020, and why the fuck not?