Nearly a decade ago I stopped eating beef. The deciding moment for me was while I was sitting in Spain watching a bull flight (not a willing spectator, but that’s for another story), tears streaming down my face. It was only 10 minutes into the ‘spectacle’, and this was the last place i ever wanted to be. The poor bull had a spear jutting out from it’s back with blood freely flowing. Whist I understand this is steeped in tradition and culture, it was not something I wanted to be apart of. Witnessing it, made me feel sick and sad. This was a defining point in my life where I wanted to make a change and regain control of something I felt overwhelmingly emotional and negative about. So I decided to be conscious about what I not only consumed, but think about the impact I had throughout the whole life cycle.
I was bought up in a migrant family, with strong ties to food. Almost all our family gatherings revolve around food, what it means and how it is consumed. We were taught to ensure food was not wasted, and every portion of the animal was consumed. I never was a really good eater, and was fussy at the best of times. I never questioned what food was put in front of me, and ate for the taste. We were always encouraged to eat well and finish what ever was on our plate.
A year after dropping beef from the menu, I found myself in a Nepalese village. Living like the locals, in a double story mud & brick hut, with two rooms on the top floor. One room for sleeping and the other for cooking and eating. The bottom floor of the hut had a dirt floor used for storage. It was an adventure of a lifetime, volunteering in the Nepalese community to help rebuild their storm water by the roadside up the steep mountain. Access was by foot or small vehicle up a dirt road. We ate like the locals, which translated to meat once a week, from a roadside stall at the bottom of the mountain.
I came away from this adventure with a renewed passion to change the way I lived which could have a more positive impact on the world. This was the deciding moment that I chose to forgo all meat, except seafood. At this time I did not know this decision had a name: Pescatarian.
It’s funny how you really get to know yourself in the quiet moments of life atop a mountain in Nepal.
Initially it took a few months for me to adjust to my newly chosen diet. I had to be consistently present when reaching for a meal or snack. It was hard at the start, because I had to explore other alternatives to ensure my intake was adequate. Ultimately time consuming, to plan and navigate Australian menus heavy on the meat.
I was at a work function during this time, and absently picked up a gourmet pie, to bite into it and realise it was meat. I had to pause and think about this moment, as it was a first for me. I decided to eat it, because it would be against everything I believed in to throw away food, especially food which an animal died for to provide nutrients to me.
I had a few of these awakenings. Which over time helped me to be conscious about how the food arrived on my plate. I now have a healthy respect for food and how my consumption impacts the wider world.
I decided to raise my kids exposed to eating everything, including meats. I wanted to ensure they made their own educated decision and have a choice on what they decided to consume. I still cook meat dishes for the family. My oldest is 7 and does not yet know I have any dietary requirements.
Three children later, I am considering switching to a fully plant based diet. There are a few other stories behind the next journey, which I’ll post about once the road has been traveled.
Im not advocating everyone go Pescatarian – through sharing this journey, I’d like people to be aware of the wider impact their diet has on the world. Even if you decide to reduce your meat intake by one meal a week > this wold have far reaching positive impacts not only for the world, but your health.
Personally, whist meat farming is intensive and has a tremendous impact on our world; the main motivation for me to go Pescatarian is the ethics. I share this story because i know change is hard, and even harder to stick to. But living the way we believe is well worth the challenges in life.