As many of my readers will know, I am vegetarian and Squiggle eats mainly vegan food only. She doesn’t generally eat dairy, but she is not entirely vegan; if it is a small unnoticeable ingredient within something else then she will accept this. She will (rarely) drink milkshakes too, on the odd occasion. However she refuses dairy spreads and butter, eggs, and cheese. And she has been strictly meat-free for many years, since she was young. For me the process was somewhat slower; I was a flexitarian (or reductarian?) for quite sometime before switching to embrace a fully fledged vegetarian lifestyle. So what led us to adopt an entirely plant-based diet? Read on…
One bedtime, I had a conversation with Squiggle that went like this:
Squiggle: “Mum, would you eat our pets?”
Me: “Huh? No!”
Squiggle: *eyes widen in horror* “Would you eat me?!”
Me: “No! Of course not! Wha..”
Squiggle: “Then why do you eat meat?”
I faltered. Fumbled for a justified answer that would make sense to her. I struggled. Because, the truth is… she had a point.
By this time, I actually rarely ate meat anyway; I had been cutting down gradually for a long time. For environmental reasons, as much as ethical. But whereas Squiggle was entirely plant-based, I had no qualms over making the odd exception myself, just now and again. Until then.
Squiggle wasn’t done. She pressed on:
“If you wouldn’t eat pets, or me, why would you eat other animals? I understand you might think meat is tasty. But there are plenty of other yummy foods; ones that don’t mean animals die. Isn’t that just selfish? I would rather eat something else, even if I miss out on something I like, and be kind to animals.”
As much as I objected to the lecture, her words had impact. I thought alot about her little speech that evening. The fact was, I knew I wouldn’t even miss eating meat anyway; it was only a rare occurance, plus I love the range of vegetarian and vegan food options available. I made a conscious choice to complete the switch to vegetarianism that night. And I haven’t looked back since.
Vegetarian and Vegan Food
As I said, there is a wealth of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer; the selection is enormous. Whether you are looking for meat substitutes or unique dishes, healthy options or junk food, pub grub or fine dining, or you are simply craving favourite cuisine, there are plenty of plant-based choices available.
One of the concerns that often crops up, especially with a child on a plant-based diet, is whether you are getting enough of all the right nutrition. In reality, it is relatively easy to ensure a balanced diet as a vegetarian, or even vegan. It is sometimes necessary to be more mindful of this, but it doesn’t need to be a problem. Smoothies make excellent nutrition boosts, and supplements can be taken if required too. If you are worried, it is possible to check that the body is absorbing all the goodness it needs via vitamin nutritional health testing. (US readers can get 15% off health tests).
Whatever your reason for considering a plant-based diet, I recommend experimenting a little; explore new meat-free foods, try different dishes, then take it from there. Whether you commit fully to veganism, cut back on meat just one day per week, or opt for something in between, my main advice is simply to listen to your body and do what feels right for you personally.
*This is a collaborative post.