• Aoife McHugh

Vegging Out: The Meat-eoric Rise of Plant Based Living

It has been seven years since I last consumed a morsel of meat. That was March, 2013 and I was in college, working part time in a deli. This involved making breakfast rolls, foraging through the fish counter and scraping lamp chops. I often joke that it was my butcher past that tipped me over the edge. I think it was the chicken fillets with a return address in Thailand that vacuum packed and sealed the deal though. I had pondered the prospect of a plant based diet for a while but there was one thing that had really been holding me back: bacon. I am ashamed to say, the sight of a salty, sizzling sliver had previously hampered my efforts to pursue this lifestyle.

That was until I finally convinced myself that this was neither good for my cholesterol or my conscience. Now the smell repels me,  it’s funny how things have a way of trotting full circle.

To add to this, the fact that pigs are like pink dogs in my eyes squealed the deal for me. I could never contemplate consuming my canine🐶, so why would I consider eating a curly tailed swine🐖? As George Bernard Shaw said: “Animals are my friends and I don’t eat my friends.” When I processed these lines, the idea of a predominantly plant based life quickly grew on me. 🌱

With climate change raging, people are becoming ever more conscious of consumption, both in cloth and calorie form. Food and fashion are two colossal contributors to carbon emissions and we are slowly thinking more with our stomachs than our eyes. People are placing their gut instinct and their gut health side by side. Phrases like flexitarian and Meat Free Monday are trending and Jamie Oliver is currently starring in a series that shares this sentiment.

I recently visited Cuba which is renowned for it’s carnivorous culture. I was told they don’t have the luxury of choosing to be vegetarian, which is fair enough considering their very simple way of life. While it did take some research, there was always something for me to eat, even if it was as simple as a giant avocado stuffed with cabbage. It just further enhanced my appreciation for the abundance of vegetarian eateries in Abu Dhabi.

Across Europe, there has been a significant increase in vegetarians and vegans, with the latter increasing by 72% over the ten year period of 2006-2016 in Great Britain alone.  In 2017, vegetarians accounted for 11% of the population in Germany, with the same country also topping the Global Chart for New Vegan Product Launches* in 2018. McDonald’s even unveiled their first vegan burger in Germany in April of this year. They clearly Mcknowledge the plant based culture that has been cultivated in this country over the past few years.

Plant based has not just become popular among the mere mortals in society, it is also the preference of Wimbledon winners like Novak Djokovic and The Williams sisters. Before the final in 2019,  Djokovic credited his plant based diet for enabling him to bounce back from injury. While he doesn’t call himself a vegan because he is loathe to label himself, he does praise a plant based diet for helping to win the recovery race*. When Venus Williams was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disease which causes excessive fatigue, doctors advised her to adopt a raw plant based diet*. In solidarity, Serena followed suit and she has won three US opens since becoming vegan in 2012.

Whether you are for or against being vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian or vegetarian, we all just need to care more about the world we live in. Small steps can lead to a lower carbon footprint if we all march in unison. You could try Meatless Monday or Fishlicious Friday (ok I may have made that one up), or if you really feel like planting the seed you could even try Veganuary.

If you are someone who doesn’t allow the theme of a day to dictate your life then start whenever and however you want. Just think of it as a way to slay your five a day. In the end, what is good for the earth is good for you: going green will benefit the biosphere and your body. Try to make more eco-friendly food choices and that way you will be conciously contributing to positive change. This does not require a Tom Daley-esque dive into an alternative diet, I am just suggesting that you simply try it. It is always nice to do your bit and you can still have your steak and eat it.






©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.