Since I've been reading blogs like The Clean Bin Project and Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project, the idea has been growing to do a project of my own. To go vegan, for one year. 2011, from January 1st to December 31st.
I'm twenty-two, and I've been vegetarian for about two months now. My boyfriend has been vegetarian for over a decade (same age).
When we first met, I remember that we discussed his vegetarianism, back when I was an omnivore. One point that I made was that it seemed pointless to avoid beef but to drink milk - after all, calves will still be born and slaughtered in order for the cows to keep producing milk. Animals still die. Then, it seemed to me, that all or nothing were the only options, and that half measures were ineffective.
I don't feel that way any more. I see things more on a sliding scale now.
That video was part of what triggered my decision to go vegetarian. I know that every vegetarian defines the subtleties for themselves, so here's what I consider it to mean, for me personally.
I don't eat meat, including chicken and fish. I will, however, eat things that have been cooked in oil that has also been used to cook animal products. I avoid things, such as Fanta and Smarties, that are made using small amounts of animal products.
I don't feel that killing animals for food is morally wrong. I do, however, feel that treating animals cruelly is wrong, which brings me right back to the milk issue.
I also gave myself an 'out'. That is to say, I can eat meat if I end up being offered the chance to try something rare or expensive, or if we're in a restaurant or somewhere that I don't often get the chance to go to, and avoiding meat will ruin the experience.
That may seem like "not really" being vegetarian, but think about it. I've cut down my meat intake by 99% (since all I've had is one lapse, consisting of a portion of fish and chips from the local chippy on my birthday. It was delicious). If I didn't allow myself that 'out', I highly doubt I'd have had the strength of mind to do it. That's also my logic for being vegan for one year. It'll be easier to avoid certain foods if I can tell myself that I'm only putting it off, not that I can never have it again.
Surprisingly (to me, at least) the transition from omni to veggie hasn't been too difficult. Quorn is a pretty good substitute (although quorn burgers are weird - sausages are good, though), and I've also modified our family curry recipe to be vegetarian, and made an excellent vegan chilli (the recipe for which will appear in another post). I'm a very fussy eater, I should also mention. I'm willing to try new things, but my body takes a while to get used to them. I was raised on chips (fries), and, embarrassingly, don't recognise new foods sometimes (couscous was very confusing). It took me several weeks of being exposed to it at work before I brought myself to try chilli, although the transition from meat to vegan in that case was very easy. I also have a mild addiction to sugar and processed foods, and dislike most vegetables (although I'm fairly sure that that's mostly a question of familiarity).
That fussiness is why I've started this blog early. To give myself time to look at my diet, and think of good substitutes, mostly for eggs and cheese, which is where the majority of my protein intake comes from. That delicious chilli, for instance, I normally eat on a baked potato with grated cheese, not by itself. Most of the things I eat involve cheese or eggs.
So, I guess we'll see how it goes.