The 8 emotional stages of going meat-free

By Ella Walker. Published 2020-05-12
BOLD-Food
National Vegetarian Week: Tempted to cut down on your meat consumption? This is what you might feel during the process…

Awareness around the ethics of scoffing animal products, and the drive to reduce the amount of meat we eat to more sustainable levels, has arguably never been more prevalent.

It’s a topic that can lead to awkward conversations between those partial to a bacon sandwich, and those who no longer find eating whatever they want entirely compatible with doing their bit to help fight climate change. But when David Attenborough says, “We can’t go on eating meat at the rate we have been,” it does make you think.

Going from full-on carnivore to happy leaf-eater though, is a process. If you’re considering it, here’s what you could expect to go through…

Optimism

Deciding to cut out sausages can simultaneously help reduce your carbon footprint, save the lives of pigs (who are both intelligent and cute) and boost your health (processed meat: not great for you). It’s an all-round win! How could it have taken you so long to go veggie?! You’ll never hanker after a pork chop again!

Determination

You’ve done the big shop and begun the new regime. The fridge is stocked with heads of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower (apparently you can make cauliflower ‘chicken’ wings?), Quorn in various guises and 12 types of lettuce. You are ready to go.

Smugness

So far, eating lentil spag bol instead of the version derived from cow, is an absolute doddle. You actually feel confident about tackling climate change again. You’ve even bought oat milk, because if being veggie is this straightforward, how much harder can it be to go vegan?

Wobbly

Your mates ate a lamb roast at the pub, a pepperoni pizza appeared even though you’d ordered the aubergine, and your fry up didn’t look right without a rasher or two of streaky bacon – your resolve is wavering. But just about holding firm… for now.

Hungry/hangry

You haven’t got your meat-free protein intake quite sorted. Turns out you didn’t stock up on enough sources during that big shop, and now you’re just hangry all the time, stuffing yourself with bread to fill the gap, and eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon.

Overwhelmed

You’ve lost track of what you can actually eat out, and just keep ordering chips because you know they’re safe (plus, you can’t face another meal that revolves around goat’s cheese). At home you’re having eggs with EVERYTHING because then at least you know you’ve clocked up some protein somewhere. And the number of bagged salads you keep buying is starting to give you palpitations – all that single-use plastic! You just want to go to sleep.

Steadfast

You’re better than this. Cutting out one ingredient should not have thrown you into such a spin. You start looking up veggie recipes; begin making your own curries and soups; realise how great broccoli and courgettes are if you char them; whip up crisp fritters and pakoras; treat portobello mushrooms like steak, and realise just how well you can stir-fry. You are a veggie wok master.

Got it nailed

Three weeks in and honestly, you can no longer remember what all the fuss was about. You’ve become a massive fan of the Beyond Burger, would rather a slab of halloumi drizzled with sweet chilli sauce than a bucket of fried chicken, and when friends shove a kebab under your nose, you smile and tell them you’re fine with the falafel thanks. You’re even over bacon.