Vegetarianism for beginners: why I’ve quit eating meat

March 7, 2017
vegetarianism for beginners why I quit eating meat

I feel a bit stupid, telling people I’m giving vegetarianism a try, at the ripe old age of 32. It feels like a distinctly teenage thing to do – to decide that, in fact, eating meat is “gross” and, in any case, What about the animals?!

But in another way, it feels like one of the most mature decisions I’ve made in a while.

I can honestly say that throughout my teens – even into my twenties – opting for vegetarianism simply never occurred to me. I love meat. I’ve always loved meat. And I somehow got around the niggling guilt about eating it by justifying it to myself in myriad ways. Ultimately, I made a decision to eat meat. And I was happy with that decision.

Why vegetarianism?

vegetarianism for beginners why I quit eating meat

What changed my mind? I hear you ask. Well, it’s pretty simple. I don’t believe there’s any way to ethically and morally defend the farming of animals for consumption. We simply don’t need to eat meat. Maybe we were designed that way, but society has progressed to the point that we can get all of our nutrients without killing other sentient creatures.

And, like I said, until recently, I believed that and still chose to eat meat. But the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I felt about it. There’s nothing else in life that I do regularly while simultaneously believing I’m doing something wrong. It started to gnaw away at me.

Was there something that pushed me over the edge?

vegetarianism for beginners why I quit eating meat

This is another yes-and-no answer. I think I probably would eventually have come to this decision myself, but there are definitely a few little things that have influenced my decision – and the fact that I’m making it right now.

Before I get into it, know this: I haven’t watched a single pro-vegetarian documentary. I keep getting asked about this! “Have you seen X, Y or Z?” The short answer is no, I haven’t. I have, however, watched Blackfish, which definitely fed into my feelings of discomfort around how we treat creatures we consider “lesser”.

I did, however, read an article in the Guardian about this couple who accidentally adopted a giant pig. It was just one of those articles that stuck with me; I thought about it a lot. There’s a line in it where they talk about just how intelligent their pig, Esther, seems, that really affected me.

If you look a pig closely in the eyes, it’s startling; there’s something so inexplicably human. When you’re lying next to her and talking, you know she understands.

How can we really defend eating animals, when we know that they think and feel? They mourn their dead; they miss their families. Industrial farming is, quite possibly, the worst thing we’ll have done to this planet.

Not to mention the impact on the environment – which is massive (although I won’t lie, animal welfare is my main reason).

What will I eat?

vegetarianism for beginners why I quit eating meat

Well, not to state the obvious, but: vegetables! In an ideal world, I’d probably go vegan, but I’m trying to take things one step at a time. Right now, I’m focusing on eating a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, keeping protein and fats high with eggs, cheese, avocados and things like coconut oil, butter and cream, and keeping carbs relatively low – because there is a real possibility that I’ll end up living on cheese sandwiches!

To be honest, I’m trying not to worry about macros or calorie content, at least for now – like I said, it’s about baby steps, and once I get used to the fact that I don’t eat meat, I’ll worry a little more about how my body’s reacting to it.

How does my trainer feel?

I was so sure that Niamh, my personal trainer, would be incredibly anti my vegetarianism. And while she is (she thinks that humans perform optimally when they eat fresh, organic meat), she’s also interested to see how my body will react. What will energy levels be like? Will I be able to eat a high-protein, low-carb diet without meat?

Will I be taking loads of supplements?

Again, this is a kind of “I’ll cross that bridge” thing, but I reckon I’ll get most of my required minerals and vitamins from eating a largely plant-based diet. I’ll keep reassessing and will probably go and get bloods done to test iron levels and so on, after a month – at which point I’ll report back!

For now, I’ll stick to what I’m doing: omega 3s (although I’ll be going for Udo’s Oils over fish oils), a multivitamin and a B complex. I’ll also be having a greens-n-protein supplement occasionally (I take that anyway, especially if I haven’t eaten enough green veg in any given day) and taking whey protein after workouts.

So there you have it: why I’m trying vegetarianism and how I’m approaching it! I’ve already got so many helpful links and recipe ideas from people, so if you have anything you think I need to know, please, comment below!

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  • Reply Heidi March 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    I love this! I ate meat until May 2015 – I did a month vegan, really just to see if I could do it. Now I eat fish from time to time – mainly because I cook for 2 in our house and my boyfriend still eats meat & fish, so salmon every few weeks is our compromise. Apart from that I’ve also cut down on dairy, drinking soya milk, coconut milk and eating non-dairy yoghurts. I like them better now; I’d rather have tea black than with cow’s milk. It’s a change that your palette gets used to and eventually it comes naturally. I wish more people would take this approach – even being reducetarian ( if people find vegetarian/vegan too difficult, it all makes a difference.

  • Reply Louisa March 8, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Kudos! Hope this is the beginning of an inspiring food adventure for you. As someone who runs and lifts weights on a wholly plant-based diet, I’d confidently say that once you’re watching your nutrition, your training should be unaffected, possibly even improved with quicker recovery times. For inspiration, check out, and though aimed at runners this might be helpful too: There’s tons of great information available for wherever you find yourself on the vegetarian/vegan-athletic scale, and plenty of us delighted to share our experiences and answer any questions you may have.

  • Reply Emma March 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    And the slagging you gave me!

    • Reply Rosemary March 8, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      I know Emma, and I’m sorry! We can be veggies together. Please say you still love me!

  • Reply Natalie March 9, 2017 at 11:37 am

    I gave up eating meat over three years ago. It was my second time going vegetarian actually, the first time lasted about a year. The difference between the first and second time is that the second time I had a purpose. It made it a lot easier. It began with being partially because I wasn’t a huge fan of meat and also for my health but now its for many reasons; health, ethically and environmentally.

    My advice is to eat what you love to eat. Eat as many fruits and vegetables as you care for. Don’t think about what you have to give up just think about all the things you can have.

    Luckily Ireland has really made a push for vegetarianism/veganism so anything meat eaters can eat, veggies can eat and I promise the cravings leave, of course its going to be hard to not crave for something you’ve been enjoying your whole life. At this point I have absolutely no desire to go back eating meat and i’ve even reduced my intake of dairy and eggs massively, I rarely eat them. So it does get easier! Good luck with your new lifestyle 🙂

    Also, If you ever are craving meat, Quorn do really good spicy chicken burgers!

  • Reply John o'shea March 12, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Is this the latest fad du jour? I wonder how long this will last? 2 weeks?

  • Reply Holly white March 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    This is a great feature!
    It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. Looking forward to hearing how you get on!

  • Reply Ashley Woodward September 18, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m a vegan (I was vegetarian a long time before that) and quite happy with how I feel on daily basis. I adopted vegetarian then vegan diet gradually. I do feel it is an experiment, try and fail, until you finally succeed and find what is right for you. There is a big hype about veganism being a trend, articles about famous people adopting vegan/vegetarian diet. But those should not be the reasons. You listed all justly reasons: cruelty-free, animal welfare, environment impact. But mostly, health benefits you reap.
    So, whatever your reasons, veganism is more than a way of eating, give yourself time to adjust, plan for failure (it’s not a bad thing, it’s learning), and mostly enjoy all new opportunities in front of you. And it’s never too late.

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