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09 May, 2017

Becoming a Vegetarian

I watched Carnage. The person that told me to watch it said, be prepared, if you watch it you WILL turn veggie. I watched it. I am now a vegetarian. I have been for two months and I can’t see it changing. My older brother and mum watched it too, they are both now vegetarians. Needless to say, the humorous documentary by Simon Amstell resonated with me, and many others it would seem.

Food

BY LILY SIMPSON

I watched Carnage. The person that told me to watch it said, be prepared, if you watch it you WILL turn veggie. I watched it. I am now a vegetarian. I have been for two months and I can’t see it changing. My older brother and mum watched it too, they are both now vegetarians. Needless to say, the humorous documentary by Simon Amstell resonated with me, and many others it would seem.

Carnage is a mocumentary set in the future in 2067, everyone is Vegan and all animal products are outlawed. In a very funny and entertaining way it highlights how eating meat and dairy is unsustainable and cruel. But it is refreshing to watch as It's not about shaming anyone, or bombarding them with stats. Instead, the film asks a simple question: how will we look back on our treatment of animals in 50 years?

One of the greatest things about Carnage is that is has made Veganism funny. It highlights that being Vegan has a very clear stigma attached to it - if you are vegan then you are most likely to be found running through fields with daisy chains in your hair chanting how beautiful life is before returning to your incense ridden teepee in rural Norfolk. It is exactly that stigma that needs to be broken down. Being a vegan or vegetarian should be completely normal. It shouldn’t mean that you couldn’t possibly be a foodie, or you must be boring, or that you are depriving yourself. It is none of those things. It can mean that you have a very complete, varied and wholesome diet.

So why did I need a documentary to convince me to stop eating meat? I have been on the verge of being a vegetarian for a good few years now but for nutritional reasons, animal protein being the most convenient and dense form of protein, I was still having chicken or salmon once or twice a week. Humans have also eaten meat for centuries and so I was drawn in to the idea that it is part of our culture, as humans, to eat meat. I guess what carnage made me realise is that in the last 100 years the consumption of meat and fish has spiraled out of control, we have gone from eating one chicken a week between a family of six to eating one a day. Our connection with the meat we are eating and the animal we are eating has become disconnected.

Most people who know me know that eating out is my favorite things to do and since becoming a vegetarian that hasn’t miraculously changed. I have been pleasantly surprised by London restaurants and their vegetarian options, there has definitely been a shift in the type of food on the menus, and I am pleased to report that I am yet to have a mushroom risotto or goats cheese tart! We have also had a huge amount of fun tricking my husband into eating Vegetarian food, we’ve made burgers and curries, stews and huge bowls of grain salads. We’ve made banana ice-cream, coconut custard and our very own nut butters. We are cooking with more vegetables, herbs and spices and surprisingly no one in the family is missing meat.

The good thing is that meat eating is on the decline in the UK. 3% of the population is Vegetarian and of that 3%, 60% of them are Millennials. Meaning that the younger generations are embracing a meat-free diet, a very positive sign for the future. And with Bill Gates backing the impossible burger, a burger made entirely of plant based ingredients, I hope that the next generation sees that eating meat is not essential.

I believe that what we eat is a very personal thing. You shouldn’t have to justify to anyone the decisions you make about what you put in your body. But if you chose to eat meat and fish you should chose the best quality with the highest animal welfare standards. And the more that meat is viewed as something that is a treat, the better.

Being a vegan or vegetarian might not be attractive but it is nothing compared to the consequence of ignoring it. Ignoring it doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a vegetarian but it definitely means being more aware of the choices we make and the impact that those choices have one our planet and the welfare of animals.

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