My friend Kat is not a vegetarian.
I’m saying this not because I believe that everyone should be, or even can be. I don’t believe in forcing my beliefs on other people. What I do believe is that we should all have respect for others, try to understand where they are coming from, and could all do with being a little more accepting.
Yes, I’m a vegan. I’m not perfect. I’ve slipped up a few times since I cut out animal products 10 months ago. Had a bit of halloumi in January; I was hungover and I was hungry and it was there. I felt terrible afterwards as I’m lactose intolerant, but it wasn’t the end of the world.
So I’m the last person to judge if someone tries and slips up. I’m also the first to be on the cheer squad when someone does do something I think is awesome. And Kat? She’s one of the awesome ones.
I’ve known Kat for so long I can’t actually count the number of years. I actually wrote about her in my old blog back in 2012; when we first met we were both into partying big time, more often than not with a cider in hand and huge grins on our faces. I’m proud to call her one of my closest friends. I remember standing in her kitchen belting out 90s cheesy tunes, drinking wine, and talking about absolutely everything. She’s one of the kindest, most genuine people I know.
Kat tragically lost her brother and two close friends within a year whilst pregnant with her baby girl, and she’s come out the other side as not only an amazing mum, but also one of the strongest people I know. I’ve never met someone who could take whatever life threw at her and own it quite like this lass does.
Our thing was always that we cooked and we ate, huge roast dinners at home and lobster at Cafe Fish followed by red wine and prosecco, and more often than not, cake. She lives on one of the Islands, so there was never any shortage of locally sourced meat and fish. So nobody was more surprised than Kat when I stopped eating meat last year.
This is a woman who made her own baby food by blending up real food – poached salmon and rice, pasta and fresh vegetables – for her daughter to eat before she moved on to solid food. She’s always shopped as ethically as she could, and she’s always made sure that her family eats well. Every Sunday she heads to her dad’s for a roast. It’s a family tradition; dad makes a massive roast with all the trimmings, and the whole family gets to catch up on each others lives. Kat has told me since I became veggie that she could give up meat during the week, but when it comes to Sunday dinners she’ll be tucking into that roast ham and she will love every mouthful.
I know she’s been replacing beef mince with the veggie stuff. I know she’s been making vegetarian meals for herself and her daughter, and she’s posted on Facebook how happy she is that she hasn’t missed eating meat. She’s proud of her baby girl for eating Quorn mince and not noticing the lack of beef or chicken in her food, but I’m not surprised. Kat has raised that daughter of hers to be open minded about what she eats and it shows. She’s teaching her daughter to have a healthy relationship with food. She knows where the meal on her plate came from, and more often than not it will be from a farmer or fisherman who is a family friend. So the fact that they have one meal a week when her family get to spend a day in each others company? She is still making a difference.
I’ve noticed a lot of judgement from people recently, and sadly quite a bit of it seems to come from those who can’t understand that for some people, it just isn’t feasible or as easy to cut out animal products completely. Shouldn’t we be encouraging the amazing people who are trying, rather than assume that everybody has the same lifestyle and opportunities that we do? Every single one of us is different. We all started somewhere, it wouldn’t hurt to remember this and celebrate the efforts of some of the amazing people around us.