I was not always vegan. I was not always even vegetarian. Until the age of approx. 14 years old, I very much enjoyed a veal cutlet with blood and Mc Donald’s chicken nuggets (all 20 pieces of them!). This was until I suddenly realised that eating a pig or lamb was no different to eating a dog or cat. In fact, the more I learned about intensive farming, the clearer it was that eating a dog or cat would probably have been kinder in terms of their quality of life, compared to that experienced by farm animals.
From a teenager until the age of 32, I was vegetarian. In Greece. In Crete. People were usually shocked but generally understanding of this choice. However, this was not the case in 2017 when I became vegan. In fact, many people had very bad reactions such as mockery and even aggressiveness towards my choice, despite this obviously not affecting them in the least. On a wider scale however, throughout the country, the vegetarian phase seemed to have been skipped altogether and people were suddenly becoming vegan.
Fortunately, there are many great vegetarian meals in the mediterranean diet as well as local fresh fruit and vegetables available. In addition, with the increased popularity of veganism, has come an abundance of alternatives from oat milk to almond yogurt and ‘fake cheese’. Companies such as Beyond Meat, Linda McCartney and Quorn are becoming mainstream. But, why would anyone want to choose to eat less meat, be vegetarian or become vegan?
- Best way to help animals – it is said that by being vegan you save approx. 200 animals annually.
- Slim down and be healthier – it is said that (on average) vegans are 9kg lighter that meat eaters and less likely to develop heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc. (according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
- Vegan and vegetarian options are delicious – I know this is subjective but trust me! There is so much available, just stock your fridge and cupboards appropriately.
- For the world – it takes approx. 6kg of grain to give us 450gr of meat. Think of the water and energy needed and how many more we could feed if they eat crops directly, rather than via the meat industry.
- For the planet – apart from the resources needed, animal agriculture is a huge polluter of the environment and with climate change (climate crisis!), need we say more?
Taking into account all the above, there is no one-fit for all. Everyone needs to choose at their own timing, based on their willingness and after thinking critically about all the factors above. Many people have also told me they become vegan because they become parents – as a good example for their children and to help work towards a better tomorrow for them. Whatever the reason and the reduction you make, it is for the best. I know I sleep better at night.