I love meat, don’t get me wrong. My favourite pastime used to be sitting down with a big juicy burger, dripping with cheese and bacon.
I loved roast chicken and coming up with interesting concoctions for BBQ food. I prided myself on being the kind of person who would eat anything.
But a creeping sense came over me every time I walked to work.
I love animals. Now the thought of eating their flesh repulses me. It’s a feeling I never thought I’d experience..
Our offices are right next to Smithfield Market, one of the oldest markets in the country. For 800 years, meat has been slaughtered and traded here.
Every morning, I had to walk through Smithfield to get to work. Here blood runs down the street on a daily basis.
Butchers finish work in the early hours of the morning. They stand in the streets at 8am, pints in hand, wearing blood stained jackets like Victorian surgeons.
There’s cardboard covered in blood. A road sweeper brush away the bloody water into the gutter.
And the smell. Oh good god, the smell. It’s an overpoweringly awful odour of death.
Twice I’ve turned sharply round a bend only to find myself faced with a giant trolley filled with animal carcasses, their legs pointing to the heavens.
Like I said, I used to eat meat. Chicken, burgers, sausages, bacon – I loved it. But one day, I thought I’d challenge myself. I was going to stop eating meat full-stop.
My boyfriend couldn’t believe it. “But you love burgers!” he cried. “How will you live without burgers? Or bacon in the morning? Or a proper roast dinner?” “I’ll survive” I shrugged. And so it began.
In all honesty, it was easy.
I took the first step by cutting meat from my diet all together, but keeping fish. I still eat the odd salmon fillet and prawns, only sustainable where possible. That was just my way of easing into a meat-free world.
I love animals. A real deep love for them. All of a sudden, the thought of eating their flesh repulses me.
It’s a feeling I never thought I’d experience a year ago when I was tucking into my juicy Meat Liquor burger.
Since walking through that meat market every day, I’ve found it harder to disassociate the animal with what I’m eating
Sometimes the smell of bacon cooking in the kitchen or a roast chicken does make my mouth water.
But since I walking through that meat market every day, I’ve found it harder and harder to disassociate the living animal with what I’m eating.
I’ve not experienced any drop in energy levels or tiredness. Meat does not equate to energy, just read Scott Jurek’s story and see what I mean.
The thing I hate about not eating meat? Being the difficult one at dinner parties or in restaurants. I hate people having to make something special just for me, but it’s something I’m starting to get used to.
I don’t think if you eat meat you’re a bad person. Far from it.
Being a vegetarian, pescetarian or vegan is 100 per cent a personal choice. It’s something you have chosen to do. It’s definitely not for me (or anyone else) to push my beliefs onto others.
I still cook meat for my boyfriend when he wants it. If I have children, it will be there choice whether they want to tuck into chicken nuggets or not.
My point is: if you’ve been considering cutting meat out of your diet, try it. It’s not as hard as you might think. I live in France – and even here, I’ve not struggled as much as I thought I would.
There are so many amazing cookbooks out there (try Ottolenghi for starters) and we’re lucky to have more options than ever in restaurants.
So, I say take the plunge. You might never look back.