Whats on your plate?

So if you’ve been reading my new blog you’ll have noted that I am a vegan. If I’m 100% honest my reasons for choosing this diet were not originally nutritional. During studying there was a field trip to a “chicken factory” and after seeing that I realised I couldn’t possibly eat meat anymore. The link between what’s on our plate and what we see in fields is all too often severed, and for me that day the link was made and could not be broken.

Now this link I speak of does not only apply to animals it applies to a lot of other foodstuffs also. Recently I was at a wedding and the dessert had an apricot on the side as a sort of garnish. The woman beside me lifted the apricot and looked confused and asked: “Can you eat this?” I said “Yes, that’s an apricot” which to my surprise she said, “oh yum I love apricots!” Now how did this woman who couldn’t identify the food on her plate still love it? Because we don’t see our food from fresh anymore. Yams or sweet potatoes come in jars, Sweetcorn is in a can and not on a cob, and beans are in tomato sauce.

Now this disconnection with our food is understandable. So much of what we eat many of us will never see in the wild. Food is exported and imported from such faraway places and much of it is preserved and modified to make this journey that if we’re all honest a lot of us could or have made the same mistake as the woman at that wedding. For me, that day, seeing the chickens and then seeing the packets filled and the marinades added created link of oh that’s what it is and I realised I can’t eat that in the same way many of us wouldn’t eat snails if we’d ever seen one crawling up the walls outside our house.

After this connection was made I set upon removing meat from my diet and it wasn’t difficult to do. The most difficult thing for me was explaining to people that this was my choice I am not afflicted with any sort of illness or intolerance to meat products, and I do not judge or look down on those who have made the choice to eat them. There is nothing worse than sitting at a table with someone and having them explain that “they don’t eat much meat”, “I only eat white meat”, “and I can’t cook so I could never be a vegetarian”. There is no person that you have to explain your choices to, sometimes I dip my chips in my ice-cream and that is no one’s business but mine and HB’s new product development department.  In the same way that omnivores feel they have to explain their choice to consume meat products, a vegetarian faces a battle explaining their choice to consume animal products to the vegan. We’re all finding our own path and I don’t think any one’s choices even as basic as their food choices should be forced by another’s opinion. (But seriously you should try French fries in raspberry ripple ice-cream)

So many things disconnect us from the reality of what we eat and basic as the name. Now I for one am guilty of giving some dishes I make a fancy pants name in the hope that it will sound better than it often looks so as someone will get past the appearance to taste it, and it works I mean how many of us would put cow juice in our morning coffee? So as much as I can I try to link my food back to where it came from. I like to have the freshest vegetables in my soup, I find there is something satisfying about cleaning lumps of fresh soil off the carrot before I peel it.  But then sometimes I’ll find those packets of frozen soup vegetables and think oh sure why bother? So for me the lesson is not healthy food choices its understanding what you’re choosing and being unapologetic for it.

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