Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Way I Eat

I struggle putting a definition on my "diet" (which is also a term that I don't really like, given its negative connotations). Technically, I suppose I'm a pescetarian, but that doesn't entirely describe my eating habits. When I cook for myself, I eat mainly vegan meals. When I eat with others, especially if I eat outside, I tend to include dairy products much more regularly. And once in a while, I'll have a bit of fish or seafood, but over the last year I've had it probably less than ten times.

The urge to write this post sprung from several conversations with friends and family on the subject of veganism and vegetarianism and my own frequent reflections. I was also no doubt inspired by Stephanie's post a few weeks ago, which made me think on the subject even more. With all the food trends that have appeared recently, I feel like this is a really relevant and interesting subject (but perhaps that's just me!). Here are my thoughts, and my personal approach.

I chose to become a vegetarian about a year and a half ago. I already ate a lot of vegetarian meals, so it wasn't a big change to me. My main reasons were animal welfare and the environmen. Basically, knowing the way that animals are treated in the meat industry makes me sick, and so did the fact that the meat industry has a massive impact on the environment. Now, this post isn't about moralising and making people go vegetarian; I'm simply explaining my reasons. Simply lowering your meat consumption and switching to organic meat makes a big difference (and I applaud everyone who makes that change!) but for me personally it felt right to just quit completely. I simply couldn't see a good reason for eating meat. I was worried I would miss it, but so far I never have. I decided to keep on eating fish and seafood partly so that I could ease myself into it, partly for reasons of practicality. Most places have veggie options, but having one other option does make it easier to eat out, if for example I don't fancy the only veggie option. Also, I like giving people the option of making fish when going over to someone for dinner.

I relied a lot on cheese, egg and dairy for the first months, but when I moved to Scotland and started buying groceries myself and cooking only for myself, I gradually ate less and less of those things. I was undoubtedly inspired by trends, mainly on the internet, and wanted to try eating more vegan. I've always loved vegetables and they've always been an important part of a meal to me, but more and more, they've become the central part of my meals, which I love. My reasons for cutting down on dairy were many. For one, I wanted to restrict my dairy consumption to organic products, which weren't always the easiest to come by and were often much more expensive. Secondly, I realised that I'd rather spend money on fruit, vegetables, nuts and other goodies, than on dairy. Thirdly, I simply love vegetables, nuts, beans and all things central to a plant-based diet - it's as simple as that. I knew that cutting down on dairy would be good for my health, and found that I felt better when I ate a more colourful, plant-based diet. I really do feel more energised when I eat better, and once you see the difference that good food makes, the appeal of it just grows. And honestly, to me the flavours are often so much better than a lot of more conventional types of meals.

That said, I have a very soft spot for cakes and all things rich in carbs, and I wouldn't be able to cut out cakes, pastries, chocolate, pasta and pizza completely. I want to be able to treat myself to a bakery visit once in a while, or a delicious pasta dish in a restaurant, or a slice of cake when invited to someone's house, or some milk chocolate on a weekend night. I do find that eating a lot of dairy, sugar and white carbs makes me feel bloated, does weird things to my blood sugar levels and upsets my skin, but on the other hand it sometimes does good things for my psyche. I know there's danger in living by rules that are too strict, at least for me personally, and I don't want food to become something associated with guilt and anxiety.

I do find it inspiring when people go full-out vegan or only eat raw food, but I think for most people it's difficult to make those drastic changes, as it is for me. In the end, I believe doing what feels best for you is the most important thing, rather than worrying about whether you can define yourself as a vegan or a vegetarian, or something else. Personally, I'm technically not a vegan, not even 100% a vegetarian, but I prefer to eat a mostly plant-based, often vegan diet, while sometimes making exceptions. It works for me.

What are your thoughts on vegetarianism, veganism, and your own food habits? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Love, Mimmi.