It may be a strange thing to say, but I see myself as a “part-time vegetarian”. There is probably a special phrase for this, but those words fit my situation really well. It all began about five years ago when I started to take part in the annual ten day Vegetarian Festival. This takes place across Thailand in and around October. For ten days I kept a strict vegetarian diet which included no animals products at all. I did it the first year as a challenge, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to survive. At that time I couldn’t live without my bacon sandwiches or pork chops. But, I survived and actually quite enjoyed the experience. It was really easier than expected as there were many shops selling vegetarian food and they all flew yellow flags. It also helped that I had a Chinese community near where I lived.
The following year was a little easier and each day I looked forward to eating another vegetarian meal. I should add at this point, that during the festival they often have a lot of imitation meat or deep fried products. If you can, it is best to try and avoid these. For myself, if it was a spicy dish, I didn’t miss the meat. Around this time I was talking to a friend about how much I looked forward to the annual vegetarian festival. She then suggested that I should do the same as her and be vegetarian once a week on the Wan Phra days. These are the Buddhist holy days much like the Christian Sundays. These are set by the phases of the moon and so fall on different days each week. Up for a new challenge, I decided to go for it. At this stage, I wan’t really doing it for health reasons, I was more doing it to give animals a break. At first I planned to do it on Sundays, but soon decided to switch to Wan Phra days. I have an app on my phone that lets me know the dates. By having to think about it each time, made me more mindful.
It was about a year later when I first saw the movie “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” that I decided it was time for me to lead more of a healthy lifestyle (see my earlier blog here). My new year’s resolution that year was to make sure I had the daily allowance of fruit and vegetables. I did this mainly through juicing. I know some people disagree with the benefits of juicing, but for me it changed my life. Not only was I feeling great, I also lost a lot of weight. At that time, I was fast approaching being obese. But, ever since I became more aware of the food that I was putting into my mouth, I managed to lose 15 kilos and get down to my optimal weight. This wasn’t through diet alone. It was more by making a lifestyle change. The following year I got an UP24 health tracker (see my blog here) and I became more active. So, a combination of healthy heating and being more active meant that I was able to keep the weight off.
Around this time, I also stopped buying and eating processed food. This included mince meat which I often ate. There are a number of food documentaries that you can watch which will put you off eating burgers and minced meat for life. It worked for me. I am no longer tempted by a Big Mac. I also look at pizzas and ask myself, are there any nutrients in this meal which will be beneficial for my body? The answer, of course, is no. That is not saying I will never eat a pizza again. It is just not my first choice any more. So, between juicing and making sure I eat enough vegetables each day, I soon realized that many days passed without me eating any meat. So, I made a conscious decision that I would stop buying meat at the supermarket. These days, when I cook at home, I don’t add any meat. And I don’t really miss it.
The reason that I didn’t go full time vegetarian is because I didn’t want to be that fussy eater. I think we all know one. We invite some people to our house for a meal or go to a restaurant and there is always one that cannot eat the same food as everyone else. So, whenever I go to eat with friends or if I am on a trip around Thailand, I will eat whatever is offered to me. Whether it be steak or pizza. It makes life so much easier and you won’t get so stressed. You benefit from having a healthy vegetarian diet for most of the time and if more people do this, then maybe less animals need to be reared and slaughtered in the future. Do yourself and animals a favour, become a part-time vegetarian!