Bella's Blog

Last week was Meat Free Week – but so is this week, and every week in my life

“Why are you a vegetarian, do you feel sorry for the animals?” The world is full of smug meat eaters, but guess what, you don’t need to be one of them.

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If you took part in Meat Free Week last week then let me start by congratulating you. Well done you, give yourself a pat on the back for skipping the bacon for seven whole days.

I understand of course that you, as a good Guardian reader, will now go back to your regular, carefully measured diet of eating organic, locally sourced, ethically produced meat, which you choose to indulge in only twice a week because you are all too aware of the many issues surrounding the meat producing industry.

That, to me, is fine, it really is. I don’t necessarily think everyone has to become a fulltime vegetarian, instead I wish all omnivores considered their food choices carefully everyday way. But sadly, a) as the food industry is very well aware, everyone can’t afford that lifestyle. And b) people like having what they’re used to eating, what they’re encouraged to eat, be that cruelly sourced chicken remains fried in saturated fats and covered in sugar and salt or burgers pumped full with steroids, water and meat glue. Yum.

Now that it’s the Monday after Meat Free Week continuing on your veggie journey needn’t be a difficult thing to do. I know because I stopped eating meat 14 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I, if you must know, saw a programme on TV about slaughterhouses and decided I couldn’t support that industry – nothing I’ve learned since about meat production has made me change my mind.

Not only does a vegetarian diet save me money, it saves on animals suffering and C02 emissions, it keeps me fit and healthy. As anyone who follows me on Instagram will now, I enjoy my foodie life now more than ever.

The thing is, if you like in the United Kingdom you don’t really have an excuse not to go vegetarian because if there is one country in the world that makes being a vegetarian easy, it’s the UK. I’ve spent large parts of my life living both in Sweden and in Germany and let me tell you, trying to find a vegetarian meal on a Swedish restaurant menu is worse than the old needle in the haystack mission. They’ll “make something up” and charge you a small fortune for the privilege of not having a choice. Gee, thanks. In Germany on the other hand, people just forget to mention that oh yeah, pea soup comes with chunks of bacon at the bottom, maybe it isn’t vegetarian after all. *insert eyeroll*

In the UK, however, you have these wonderful “Suitable for vegetarian” labels, meaning that you don’t have to keep a little note in your wallet of all the E-numbers and other weird ingredients derived from animal sources. The packet already tells you if it’s animal friendly or not – meaning you can easily avoid munching on bones from pigs that never saw the sun once in their lives. Win!

Speaking of packets, looking at the ingredients list in the first place will make you a healthier eater; you’ll start to care about what you want, and don’t want, to go into your body.

A new report suggests we need to eat more nuts and legumes – well guess what, as a vegetarian you’ll be ahead of that trend. (I’m sorry to break it to you; chips and cheese is not a vegetarian food group.)

The point I’m making is that you could easily continue to live a vegetarian life also after Meat Free Week. In fact, you could start your meat free life now. And as for those of you who are asked the inevitable and ever so slightly patronising question of whether you feel sorry for the animals or not, here’s what to say:

As a matter of fact, I do feel sorry for the animals being put through endless suffering throughout their poor excuse of a life all because you want to eat meat at any given chance. And I feel sorry for the planet because of all the water and C02 produced because you want to feast on flesh. I also feel sorry for your poor body having to process meat on an, I’m assuming from your arrogance, unnaturally regular basis. Guess what, it doesn’t need it. But, go ahead, enjoy your steak.

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