A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Keeping in touch

I'm sorry - yet again - for not updating more frequently.  Having a mixed time at the moment - some very good, and some not so great.  This is possibly the shortest post ever just to say that I'm still here and I'll post properly soon.  I was going to update this evening, but then I got some sad news and now I don't feel like updating tonight.  I'll get back to you very soon.  I might even have some photos to post up.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Decision made

It's a while since I posted because I've been busy with writing things for my MA portfolio/dissertation, but it didn't take me long after my last post to make my final decision about whether or not to give up being a vegetarian.  As I said in that post, I had been thinking about it for a long time, although I hadn't told anyone.  I have made the decision to break my twenty year meat fast, and have surprised many with my decision.  I thought my mum wouldn't be quite so surprised because I'd talked a little about it with her while we were away together, but she really was.  She still is.  My brother, M, has been surprised but more supportive than I could have imagined.

There were many reasons I came to the decision I have, some of which I talked about in my previous post, some of which I touched on.  I'm not going to go through them again, but I do think I've come to the right decision for me at this time.  It still surprises me when I look in the mirror and I suddenly think, 'Hey, you're not vegetarian any more,' because it's been part of my identity for twenty years - all of my adult life.  The rest of the time it's felt like a new adventure.

I have no idea how to cook meat so I've been buying cook books from here, there, and everywhere.  Having said that, the fishmonger has been really helpful the couple of times I've been there, and the butcher at the farm shop was also helpful, if a little perplexed (even though I had explained it to him).

Once I'd made my decision to eat meat again I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could get an appointment with the dietician at the immunology department.  It took several days to get to speak to her on the phone, but she was very helpful and is very happy to see me face-to-face, although it means getting a re-referral from my GP as it's over a year since I was seen in the immunology department.  The referral is now going through, but in the meantime the dietician said that one of the main pieces of advice is that as a general rule I should never eat meat bought from a supermarket because of the added colourings and preservatives.  I also can't have any cured meat (unless I cure it myself).  I did in fact speak to the butcher at one of the big supermarkets nearby.  I won't name the supermarket chain, but the butcher did tell me that they do dye a lot of their meats.  Even the organic meats, which arrive at the shop unadulterated, but then the supermarket themselves add the dye.  They can still sell the meat as organic, because that is how it has been reared and prepared, up until the point of arrival in the shop.  I don't know about you, but I think that's diabolical.

Before I became vegetarian I never enjoyed holding raw meat, but I've done a lot of reading in recent times, and one of the books I've read is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Meat' book.  In it he talks a lot about the ethics of eating meat, and says that if an animal dies for us to eat then we have a responsibility to treat it with the respect that it deserves (it says a lot of other things too and is worth reading).  I've born this in mind when  I've been handling fish and chicken - the only two meats I've eaten so far - and haven't had that thought of 'Eurgh, this is disgusting,' that I used to have.  It is, after all, still just the animal that was walking around in the field, or swimming in the sea/river, before and that I respected.  I'm going to be trying lamb tomorrow, and I'm hoping that I'll feel the same way with that too.  I can't see any reason why I wouldn't.

It's taking a bit of getting used to having meat in my mouth again.  It's the texture, not the taste, and the weird feeling of having my teeth kind of stuck together by the food that I'm eating.  But so far as the taste is concerned, I've liked it.  So far I've had trout, salmon, sole, and chicken, but I'm very much still learning how to cook any of it, although the advice I've had from the fishmonger and farm shop butcher has been spot on.

I think this is going to be an interesting journey.  It may not always be entirely comfortable, but that'll be for me to consider along the way.  At the moment I think I've made the right decision for me, not least because I've just been diagnosed as anaemic again.  I'm sick of taking endless tablets, and whilst there's not a lot I can do about taking almost all of them, I can try to help myself with my iron levels, and maybe not have to rely on iron tablets for too long.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


I'm the sort of person who usually thinks about big decisions a lot before 'making them public', which means that such decisions can appear to others to come out of the blue.  This happened when I set up my business, '9 Lives Craft Designs.'  I thought about it a great deal and looked into the practicalities and financial implications on my own before telling others my plans.  When I did then tell people they were somewhat surprised the next time they came around and my flat was covered in handmade cards and craft materials all over the place.

I'm thinking about something 'big' now.  Something that will greatly surprise those who know me well and have known me a long time ... I'm thinking ... Hmmm, am I ready to disclose this? ... I guess I must be in some respects as I've started writing this post ... ... ... I'm thinking of giving up vegetarianism.  There, I've said it.

I haven't yet made my final decision, and it is a major decision because I have been a lacto-ovo vegetarian (a vegetarian who drinks milk and eats eggs) for twenty years.  There were a number of reasons I decided to become vegetarian all that time ago: firstly, there were the ethics of eating meat, manufacturing animals, and slaughtering animals; and then there was the fact that I was in the midst of an eating disorder, and any reason not to eat something was helpful in maintaining that disorder 'legitimately'.  There were other reasons too, but these are probably the two that are most influential in this time of reconsideration.

I have battled with my weight for years, but during my late teens and twenties I fought with both anorexia and bulimia.  I have overcome these, but I have soared into the obese range, and I don't just mean this as a subjective thing from my perspective.  As I've said, my decision to become vegetarian was also based upon my ethics, but it was also influenced by my fear of food at the time.  Yes, I still battle with food, but I wonder if it might make a difference if I tried giving up this last restriction I imposed upon myself, although I have to say that it hasn't felt like an imposition.

As for the ethical thing, that's more difficult.  I still have big uncertainties about the meat industry, and should I decide to become omnivorous again I would avoid mass-produced meat.  Mind you, I wouldn't be able to eat most of the mass-produced stuff anyway because of allergies.  Most supermarket meat is injected with red food colouring to make it appear bloodier and therefore fresher, and some are also covered in preservatives.  Both colourings and most preservatives instigate anaphylaxis in me.

That said, health is one of the things that's been making me think about giving up vegetarianism.  My diet is so restricted because of my allergies, and although I've managed well since all the allergies were eventually diagnosed seven years ago, I depend on dairy products and eggs a great deal as sources of protein.  In recent years I have also been prone to anaemia, which is exhausting and doesn't at all help the POTS, or my health in general.  Yes, I have beans and pulses regularly, but I'm still lacking in protein and iron.

I know that some vegetarians who return to an omnivorous diet eat only fish.  Some still continue to call themselves vegetarian even though they eat fish.  I don't hold with that view - that you are vegetarian if you eat fish, because it's still a body.  I wonder what the ethics are behind only eating fish... I'm not convinced that eating fish is any different from eating any other animal, and I think that if I decide to give up vegetarianism then I will not differentiate between fish and meat.

I was in the supermarket today, and whilst I wouldn't be able to eat supermarket meat, as previously mentioned, I did make myself wander down the meat aisle.  I'm not sure how I felt.

Contemplating this change in lifestyle feels very controversial ... mainly within myself, but maybe too with those who've known me for a long time.

I haven't yet made the decision, but I know which way I'm veering.