Why these Durham students want you to stop eating meat
Yes, you can get fit without meat
This week a #ChooseVegetarian campaign is being held in Durham.
In connection with the campaign, we asked students why they decided to turn to vegetarianism and veganism.
Here are their stories:
I used to be a proper meat-head. Being an active runner, I thought I needed copious amounts of animal protein for optimal performance. I’ve come to realise this isn’t the case.
In my first year at uni, I started following some vegan activists on YouTube, I read more about animal agriculture and factory farming, and became particularly interested in their environmental effects.
After moving out of College, I decided not to buy meat for myself as an experiment. It was easier than I had thought – so I gradually phased out eggs and dairy. Now, the only non-vegan foods I consume regularly are honey and some fish.
Along the way I’ve become so much more aware of my role as a consumer, and people around me seem more intrigued than annoyed by how I eat.
It’s all about habits – and mine are definitely becoming more ethical, more healthy, and more sustainable!
I have been an on-and-off vegetarian for a few years, but after watching Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives and Earthlings, I decided to stop eating meat altogether and cut down on dairy products.
The documentaries made me realise how meat affects the environment and my own health, not just the issue of animals being treated inhumanely.
Thankfully, I had support from friends and family that made it a lot easier to stick to my new diet with recipe ideas and new ways to enjoy food.
Since then I feel healthier, as I eat much more fruit and vegetables than I did previously, and my skin has cleared up quickly which is a great bonus!
Throughout my early teens, I was that paradoxical person who said ‘I want to go vegetarian for ethical reasons but I just love meat too much’. Most of the time it just wasn’t on my radar.
At university, I started cooking for myself and I stopped buying meat, mostly for the health benefits, but also because I thought it was too expensive. I also connected with many vegetarians and vegans, finally opening up the conversation fully.
Over the past few years I learned more and progressively cut out fish, eggs, and dairy from my diet. I’m now vegan, for health, ethical and environmental reasons.
Doing it step-by-step was what worked for me, and humans are highly adaptable. Now that I’ve gained this body of knowledge on the animal product industry and its effects, there is no going back for me.
I decided to cut meat out of my diet when I found out about the reality of factory farming. After finding out how the vast majority of animals have to live in horrible conditions and are killed as infants, I really wanted to help make a change.
Protein was something that originally made me sceptical about choosing vegetarianism. I think, especially as a guy, not having meat in your diet makes you think you’re going to wither away and get ill. But I did my research and, once happy, I could easily get enough protein without meat. I haven’t looked back.
I’ve actually managed to put on weight since I dropped meat a year ago, and I cycle 70 miles a week.
I feel better physically, and now that I’m doing something to prevent factory farming and even help fight climate change I feel better mentally as well.
I’m not an animal person by any means, but over the last couple of years I’ve begun to realise how disturbing the meat, dairy and some other industries actually are.
I always sort of knew it was going on, but the big issue was it had always been so normalised; I was raised not to care. Watching a lot of videos online and following pages such as PETA and Toronto Save Pigs gradually made me more empathetic to animals.
Since the start of my first year, I’ve seized the opportunity to cut out meat and I feel better for it. Part of my motivation to go vegetarian was also the shocking contribution the meat industry makes to climate change and pollution.
Although it’s a tiny impact I’m having on the bigger picture, it still feels like an impact nonetheless, and I think that’s pretty cool.
Look out for the #ChooseVegetarian campaign at your college this week!