Balanced Life’s managing editor Bianca Muller shares her journey to vegetarianism…
My childhood consisted of regular family braais with a variety of meat options to sink your teeth into, biltong as a major treat, and bacon and eggs as the breakfast of champions. So how did I end up putting a stop to my meat-eating ways – and why?
As someone who sees herself as an avid animal lover and someone who values the earth’s wellness, the idea of making some changes to my lifestyle always piqued my interest. In 2017, I made the big decision to cut out all meat products from my diet. Health was one of the reasons that contributed to making this bold choice. Research tells us is that the consumption of meat may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol – all of which run in my family. And I’ll be honest, like many others I, too, had the illusion that not eating meat meant I’ll shed some kilos (more on this later). But secondly, and most importantly, was my love for animals. A major turning point for me was spending time with a family member’s cattle. I got to learn that these animals are much more than grazing creatures. Some of them are so tame that they’d follow you around and others enjoy being petted – not all too far removed from cats and dogs, and knowing the fate that awaited them was absolutely gut-wrenching. It was an easy decision and one I don’t regret making.
My own misconceptions
However, I must admit, it was hard to cut out some of my favourite foods such as biltong, pies and burgers. But what I’ve learnt from this experience is that my willpower and dedication are stronger than what I had ever imagined. With time it became easier, and I can truly say that I don’t see myself reverting to eating meat anytime soon. What held me back from taking the dive earlier was my concern that I would have very few options left when it comes to what I could eat. But I was pleasantly surprised that being vegetarian doesn’t mean you’re left with what some would call ‘rabbit food’. I could still eat everything I once enjoyed – pizza, lasagnes, hamburgers. These days, there are vegetarian substitutions for everything! This is also where my weight-loss illusion went out the door and one of the biggest benefits of making the shift to vegetarianism is that it gave me that extra push to experiment more with food. It made me realise that I really stuck to what I knew back in my meat-eating days – I was one of those people who would order the exact same thing on the menu with every restaurant visit. I have since eaten delicious dishes and products that I most likely would’ve never tried before. It truly is a whole new world, in more ways than one!
Advice for those on the fenc
Are you thinking about making the switch? Start slow by cutting out meat once a week, for example. You can use those meat-free days to experiment with vegetarian recipes to find out what you like and dislike. From here you can decide whether you’d rather stick to going meat-free occasionally or full-time. Remember to take your health conditions into account before making any drastic changes to your diet – it’s recommended to consult a doctor before you do so.