Heres why Im slowly switching to vegetarianism Helen Martin – Edinburgh News

Seven per cent of the UK population are vegetarians and Helen is tempted to join their ranks

THIS year, since March, must have been the worst time across Scotland and other countries with the virus, presenting a fleet of fears, risks, fatalities, tragedies, depression, dreams and ambitions shattered, income losses and anxious wondering about the future.

Theres been little to cheer us up. One suspected cause of coronavirus, the disgusting wet markets of China, started up another booming thread of bad news on TV and social media relating to animal cruelty. Why would we want to learn about all that right now?

One of the most upsetting for many was the coverage of the Chinese Yulin Dog Meat Festival, including pictures of cats and dogs, starving, yelling, injured and packed tightly with hundreds crammed into metal cages, before being roasted alive.

Then came the worst revelations of trophy hunting, with young children being taught to shoot arrows at bear cubs or young deer fawns, and adults happily promoting their killing of giraffes, lions and rhinos, etc.

How working animals, from monkeys and elephants to donkeys and dogs, were tortured by their captors or owners was bad enough and perhaps another, ghastly, closer-to-home, expos was how some animals were produced and dealt with, even in the UK, for food.

A lot of that on social media has been posted by vegans. My first reaction was that it was all so horrific and tearful I wanted to block them. But no, I signed all the petitions, retweeted the things while trying as much as possible to avoid the pictures.

My Irish family were farmers. I knew they werent as cruel as the stuff I was seeing now. I worked with them! So, not surprisingly, eating meat had been normal and delicious for me for 60 years! Id often rejected the idea of veganism. But for some reason during this Covid-19 lockdown, Ive slowly begun to switch to vegetarianism.

I do mean slowly. About four meals a week contain no meat. Ive discovered vegan cheese for some recipes but still use some made from milk. I still use dairy milk for some things but tried the options such as almond and coconut, and finally settled on oat milk.

Non-meat soya mince is so good for chilli or curry, it tastes as good as beef. Im about to experiment with jackfruit, a real fruit that takes on a meaty texture and taste in spicy dishes. Pasta with veg ingredients is easy. And my animal-loving husband is going along with it all.

When restaurants open, well try vegetarian and vegan joints and learn more. Some people do a sudden switch to veggie or vegan but will we ever totally rule out animal contents? Could I reject haggis, steak and bacon forever? To be honest, I dont know.

Id certainly want intensive, factory farming banned, and compassionate, ethical farming to take over whether I really changed diet or not. Im sure many meat eaters would prefer that too, no matter how more expensive it was.

According to Finder UK, currently seven per cent of the population are vegetarian, four per cent are pescatarian and two per cent are vegan, all of which amount to 6.7 million. And by the end of 2020, all these statistics are predicted to double (although not everyone completely sticks to their new diet).

But heres the moral and emotional, insoluble problem. The spend on meaty dog and cat-food in the UK is estimated annually at up to 4 billion. (For my dog and cat I spend about 40 a week.) Add zoos, sanctuaries and shelters and the meat which is always necessary especially for those who love and feed animals.

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Heres why Im slowly switching to vegetarianism Helen Martin - Edinburgh News

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