Sunday, 24 April 2016

• Why I've stopped eating meat •

I grew up eating chicken in breadcrumbs, spaghetti bolognese, salami, prosciutto, chicken livers, steaks, all of the cold meats on the deli counter; I'd have laughed if you'd have said I'd quit eating meat at the age of 23.

Which is why, looking back, I find it crazy to think I'd never bothered to look into how the chorizo in my pasta was made, what was in it, the process it took to get it from animal to shop. And that's ignorant. Totally, ridiculously ignorant. And another confession is; I never really cared. Now I can already see how that makes me sound extremely heartless, but my opinion was always that animals were there to be bred and killed for our food. That thought now makes me a little sick to my stomach.

1. Animals.
A few years ago, my boyfriend showed me a video on YouTube on how cows were kept and killed for meat. I was shocked at how disgusting the living conditions were and even more shocked at how us, as consumers, are not made totally aware of this. I continued to eat meat but it was always at the back of my mind, and I started to enjoy meat less and less. I then researched into factory farming and slaughter houses, and both left a bad taste in my mouth. I do recognise that some farms rear and kill their animals ethically, but after reading and watching so much online, I couldn't unsee the things I saw and this, added to the other reasons I am about to list, resulted in me giving up meat.

2. Health.
This later led to watching Cowspiracy, a documentary detailing the meat industry and the effects it has on our health and the environment. Now this documentary struck a chord, and I found myself googling research on how the meat is produced and basically, what happens when it is inside of us. I started picturing a dead animal inside of me, and imagined an animal carcass rotting in my belly, waiting to be digested. Not something you want to think about when you're browsing the meat aisles in a supermarket. It also worries me that animals are pumped with antibiotics and all sorts of rubbish that, quite frankly, I'd rather not put in my body.

I also read an article which detailed detriments to health caused by meat and later I googled research stating that red meat probably causes cancer and there is evidence supporting a strong carcinogenic effect (World Health Organisation, 2015). If that wasn't enough to make me stop eating meat, nothing was. Aside from this all, after I stopped eating meat I felt so much better; I have from mild IBS which is spurred on by bad eating habits and stress, and I can honestly say that since not eating meat (for 6 months) I have had no belly cramps, bloating or unusual digestion problems. My meals now also feel lighter and less heavy, making me feel sufficiently full instead of 'food coma' full. *I must add here that I do eat fish, but sustainably sourced fish, and if you'd like me to write post about why, then please let me know.

3. Environment.
Delving deeper into the effect meat has on the population has shown a different side to things that many people I've spoken to do not know about; the effect that the greenhouse gas emissions has and the devastating fact that our beautiful rainforests are being used for animals to graze on, to then be killed... for our enjoyment. What on earth?! This makes no sense to me! We are supposedly making an effort to somehow restore the damage we have done to our environment, yet we still eat meat. I had to give it up when I learned this.

Something has stuck with me ever since I heard it; we could reduce our carbon footprint not by driving our cars less, but by stopping eating red meat. Imagine that! We are told over and over that we are killing the environment by the pollution given off from our cars, but experts say that this is not true - it's cattle rearing that is causing the most pollution. The Guardian posted this article which links to studies (and it's all formatted much better than I could have done in this post!) along with quotes from experts, so I'd recommend giving that a read.

4. Resources.
There are unfortunately so many hungry, thirsty people in this world, yet we use many of our resources to rear animals. Lets take water for example: water is needed to grow the crops for the animals to eat, it is used to clean the factories and farms, and it is also needed for the cows to drink. Cows can drink up to 50 gallons of water a day alone. It takes a staggering 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef - just one pound - when that water could be better used elsewhere. There are people in this world who are desperate for clean water, and we use it to rear a cow that will then be eaten by us... that seems incredibly strange to me. There is tons of research online on the resources needed to raise animals, but Peta is a start.

There are more reasons as to why I no longer eat meat, but I didn't want to ramble, and these are the four main ones. I read recently that as you grow up, you change and you grow mentally and spiritually an incredible amount, and that is so true. Compared to my 18 year old self, my political views have changed, my views on animal welfare have changed, I'm questioning things more and more. No matter what age you are, it's good to learn and it's good to base your opinions on real research and evidence. If there is one thing I'd love you to take from this post, it's just that: to do your research. Even if you go away now and have a beef burger, that's absolutely fine - hey, enjoy it - just do your research first. So often in life, we are told this and that, and we are just expected to believe it. That was me 5 years ago. But now, probably following lead from my boyfriend who is constantly reading and watching documentaries, I'm questioning everything. And that's healthy.

Please note, I'm always telling people to not believe everything they read, so if possible, please research evidence conducted by scientists and reputable organisations. This is a quick post telling you my personal reasons for giving up meat. If you are 16 or under, I would advise discussing things with your parents and conducting even more research into where your food comes from - don't take this post as gospel, as these are just my reasons and I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do.

Wow, it feels good to actually write a blog post again!
I hope you enjoyed reading this. I'd love to hear your views on this and
what you think of giving up meat. Leave a comment down below or email me :)
Daniela xo