Many people ask me questions about my diet, such as ‘What are you, a vegetarian or a vegan?’ or ‘Why did you quit eating meat but do you still eat fish’ or ‘Why do you limit the use of eggs and dairy, that won’t be bad for the animals, right?’. Or maybe the most relevant question: ‘why won’t you completely convert to veganism?’ I noticed that more people around me who pursue a more plant-based diet struggle with these questions, so here’s a blog with some explanations.
Why did I quit eating meat?
The journey to my current diet took some years. In 2012 I moved into an apartment with a big kitchen, allowing me to improve my moderate student cooking skills. I developed a preference for the vegetarian cuisine, as chefs like Yottam Ottolenghi inspired me to experiment with many different vegetables, herbs and whole foods. At a certain point, I even quit preparing meat but kept eating it when going out.
However, as pointed out in my previous blog, when my fifth food poisoning in one year occured after eating meat I was very much done with it. I saw Cowspiracy at about the same time, which addressed the devastating effects of cattle, dairy and eggs on our environment. Having a big heart for the environment, the decision was very clear to me as I now had two motivators to quit eating meat (my health and the environment). I started to pursue a more vegan diet. In the last two years, I veganized my diet more and more. Nowadays, about 80% (if not more) of my diet is vegan.
Over the past months I thought a lot about becoming completely vegan, however after careful consideration decided that a 100% vegan lifestyle is not the way for me at this moment.
A few personal reasons are:
- I strive to lead a sustainable lifestyle in every possible way. A sustainable lifestyle is not only about cutting animal products out of your diet, it is a holistic approach of making sustainable choices in energy, travelling, fashion, cosmetics, waste, transport, water, organic food, palm oil and more. As I already make many conscious choices, I feel I need to be able to loosen up every now and then and that includes having a relaxed dinner without over-analysing the menu every time.
- I feel that if everybody would eat the way I do, a lot of the world problems would have been solved by now. Being wel aware of the fact that veganism is the perfect world, drastic reducement of animal products is already a major win.
- To be completely fair, I just like eating some cheese or an egg every now and then. And the effect of my diet is that if I choose to eat a certain dish that includes animal products, I really enjoy it instead of recklessly craving my food.
Another reason on a macro-scale: When it comes to food, I noticed that there is still a lot of judgement from both meat eaters and vegans. Exaggeratedly said: Meat eaters call vegans extremist, while vegans judge people who still choose to eat meat. I just don’t believe in black and white. What I love about documentaries like Cowspiracy and What the Health is that they start a social dialogue, making people think about their food choices and rethink their lifestyle. As a consequence, in my social network alone, even the most convinced meat fanatics started reducing their meat and dairy consumption. It is safe to say that a reducement movement is starting to really take off. Every individual has its own process to do this, like I did. So instead of imposing restrictions about what people can or can’t eat, I am a great believer of motivating and enabling individuals to make more sustainable food choices.
I was wondering if more people felt that way and found that that was actually the case. The reducetarian movement is composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat as well as less dairy and fewer eggs, regardless of the degree or motivation.
The reducetarian way of eating
So the reducetarian movement is really about contributing to the environment in a way that works for you. I too developed my own way of eating: no meat and mainly vegan meals. I always look for ways to leave dairy, eggs and seafood out of my meals, both at home and in restaurants. I occasionally eat some cheese, fish or eggs, mainly when I am out for diner. The bottom line is generally: as much plant-based as possible!
Some tools that have been helpful to me are documentaries, food blogs and cook books. To learn more about the effects of animal products both on the environment and our health, there is a range of fine documentaries available at Netflix:
- Cowspiracy, impact of meat and diary on the environment.
- What the Health, documentary on how meat and diary are the main cause to chronic diseases and how a plantbased diet can prevent this.
- Knives over forks, a precursor of What the Health.
- FoodInc, documentary on how mammoth corporations have taken over all aspects of the food chain in the United States.
Here are some of my favourite food blogs and websites:
- Yottam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-British chef, recipe writer and restaurant owner.
- Green Kitchen Stories, a healthy vegetarian blog from a family in Sweden.
- Deliciously Ella, an English food writer and entrepreneur under the brand Deliciously Ella.
- Lisa goed Vegan, a Dutch food blogger.
All food bloggers and chefs published several fine vegetarian and vegan cookbooks that will introduce you to a new way of cooking.