For my latest challenge against the clock, I’m going vegetarian for a quarter of the year whilst backpacking throughout Asia. I could write a zillion words post explaining my reasons for doing this and hope that you care enough to read. Alternatively, I’ve manifested an imaginary interview in my head, with questions from cool celebrities and fictional characters.
Air Asia and their poor entertainment options have driven me to this!
David Beckham asked:
I can’t believe that you’re going to go vegetarian. I have it on good authority that you used to mock your vegetarian peers. Is this true?
Hi David, and congratulations on the end of a colourful football career! Yes, I’m afraid this is true. I used to ask them if they enjoyed eating grass and other similar, unambitious comments that still make me cringe as I bemoan my lack of creative banter.
The truth in the matter is I have always secretly respected vegetarians who have chosen their lifestyle for ethical reasons. It’s generally harder in life being a vegetarian and to go to that extent because you believe you are doing the right thing is commendable, in my eyes.
Can you remember being mean to the girl in school who you fancied the most, because you secretly admired her? It’s a bit like that. However, I wouldn’t expect a dreamboat like yourself to have gone to such lower levels.
Stephen Fry Asked:
Do you eat a lot of meat in your daily diet? What is your experience with vegetarianism? Will you eat fish?
Hey Stephen. Thank God you asked me this in literary form. I’d hate to hear how common I would sound in the physical presence of your rather eloquent self.
I was raised in a single parent family by a vegetarian mother. Meat wasn’t that common and I did try fake meat often, but I was massively unimpressed by the taste. (Linda McCartney’s fake beef pies being the best out of a bad bunch). Since then I eat meat pretty much every day – it’s really rare for me to go a day without eating meat.
I chuckled recently when a guy who I met claimed that vegetarians who still ate fish were a bit like virgins who want to wait until their wedding night to have some of the good stuff, but still foreplay like it’s going out of fashion. I met a pescatarian in Fiji lately who explained her choice and she did a good job. However, I will cut out fish for the sake of the challenge. (No pun intended). Wa-wa-waaaaah.
Sir Paul McCartney asked:
It’s not THAT hard, mate! This is actually a challenge for you?
Sir Paul, you are a musical legacy and I really respect your work. But that’s just ridiculous! I bet it is super-easy being a multi-millionaire vegetarian living in a western country. But it’s a completely different story for me and my current nomadic lifestyle. Give me a break.
Anywhere other than Western Europe can be quite unforgiving for a travelling vegetarian and many cultures don’t even notice it as an actual thing. I tried to go part-time veggie whilst travelling in the Pacific’s lately and it was almost impossible. I’m travelling to some pretty adventurous places in these three months including rural parts of China, The Philippines, North Korea, Japan etc (so no sushi, or peking duck for me).
My son, are you simply taking on this challenge for alternative travel, or are you doing this for deeper reasons?
You have me on the ropes here, Mahatma. I’ve never been 100% comfortable with the fact that animals are slaughtered just so I can get my culinary rocks off. You said back in the day; “be the change that you want to see in the world,” and I want to live by that principle as much as I can in my own life.
But it’s a lot more complex than that. I used to eat free range eggs and meat etc back home, but after a search for the truth and some shocking research into what happens in abattoirs – I have found that I just can’t trust the meat industry anymore. On top of that – a lot of livestock are pumped with chemicals and steroids too – this freaks me out a little because I don’t have 100% control (or knowledge) of what is going in my body.
Have you/could you ever kill an animal for food?
What’s up, Buddha? Thanks for being the cause of lovely smells around Asia when folk put those lovely incense sticks on your memorials.
Like yourself, I could not personally kill an animal – even though I eat meat.
The result of this leads to bouts of self-loathing and me wanting to punch myself in the face (and probably enjoy it too much).
I have much more respect for someone who goes out in the wild, catches their prey and prepares it for dinner, than someone like myself who “couldn’t kill an animal,” but will happily buy one in a package and ask no questions to how it got there and eat it after.
A dog was hit by a van in front of me in Papua New Guinea. I witnessed its dying moments (as the van drove off). Its harrowing screams haunted me as I watched it crawl around in agony until it gave up and died on the spot of what seemed to be a broken spine. It broke my heart and it put a real damper on my day. Days later I’m munching on a lamb stew and feeling like a confused little carnivore.
See where I’m going with this, Buddha? I don’t feel like I deserve to eat meat and I also don’t feel like I deserve to have such a loving affinity with animals. It’s not cool feeling like a hypocrite and I need to at least try something new for my inner peace.
Hank Moody from Californication asked:
Don’t you think you’re being a little hard on yourself? Haven’t you always believed that us humans are carnivorous and are supposed to eat meat? Why the big deal?
Hello Hank, you better sort yourself out and get back with your beautiful ex wife with the bone structure of a Goddess, or I may just swoop in myself! (You have been warned).
I used to subscribe to that thought, but I’ve recently opened myself up to studies from the other side. Some highly respected anthropologists claim that back in the caveman days, 85% of our protein intake came from plant based sources.
I’m starting to open myself up the possibility that humans, like most birds are omnivorous. Basically, meaning an opportunistic eater who can survive without a meat-based diet (or at least have the choice). I’m no expert of course, not at all. I’m just opening myself up to other theories and concepts.
Sylvester Stallone asked:
If you feel this way, why wait almost 30 years to even start? Is there a possibility you could go permanently vegetarian after this challenge?
For a large proportion of my life I have believed that meat is a necessity, as opposed to a luxury. I would probably eat you in an absolute survival situation, but if I can prove that I don’t need meat to survive and still feel really healthy on a vegetarian diet – then I don’t see why not.
Another reason why I haven’t tried yet is that the majority of vegetarians who I know are poor ambassadors for healthy vegetarianism. I see a common mistake; a lack of fundamental nutrients replacement such as protein etc. Vegetarianism doesn’t automatically make you healthy, much like how signing up to a gym doesn’t suddenly put you in better shape. Hopefully I can set a good example and be a really healthy vegetarian, like my friends over at Veggie Focus.
Delboy from Only Fool and Horses asked:
Cor Blimey! Won’t this be more expensive, you dipstick!?
Yes Del, I am expecting this to hurt my wallet. But I can afford it and it’s pale in comparison to feeling emotionally bankrupt.
Fagin from ‘Oliver!’ asked:
Do you believe a vegetarian diet is more healthy than a meat-based diet?
This also confuses the hell out of me. A lot. If you open up your mind and check out the debate between both parties – they both make really good arguments to support their own cause. Some statistics claim that vegetarians live longer on average and have less reported heart problems, whilst meat eaters point out fundamental nutrition such as vitamin B12 is easier to find in meat-based products as opposed to plant-based food.
Nothing is more important than your health. I’m quite a healthy/lucky chap and I can count on one hand how many times I have been ill in the last decade. I don’t think I’ve ever had a headache that wasn’t alcohol induced! But that doesn’t necessarily mean I can not continue this on a vegetarian diet.
Alan Shearer asked:
I eat meat all the time and I’m geet hard, I am. Don’t you hate being skinny and haven’t you recently put some healthy weight on? Does this new dietary choice concern you and your physical goals?
Big Al! As your number one stalker, I am aware that chicken and beans was your traditional pre-match meal which enabled you to thump in 260 record-breaking goals in English top flight football.
I do indeed hate being skinny and a few months ago I went from 66KG to 74 KG on the Paleo/slow carb diet with regular gym workouts and I felt tip-top. However, I lost weight (down to 70) whilst travelling in the Pacific islands even though I stuffed my face with every given opportunity.
I fear that taking meat, which is high in calorific density out of my diet could result in me losing more weight than I can afford to. I am also expecting people to be personally offended by my choice – like when I quit booze for a long time. But I think I’ll get over that.
You seem quite passionate about this. Are you going to turn into one of those preachy vegetarians? Or a holier than thou hippy?
I sincerely hope not! Nobody ever changed anybodies mind by attacking them, or making scathing comments on their lifestyle choices. I’m a full-time world traveller and that kind of thinking supersedes open-minded travel. Some cultures can’t afford to go without meat and it’d be deeply insulting to get on my high-horse about it. I have no plans to ostracise myself, or be the traveller’s answer to ‘Morissey!’
From what I can see though, it’s usually us carnivores who preach about vegetarian’s personal dietary choice, rather than the other way around. And a note on hippies:
I’m a fan of real hippies, because real hippies live by a “live and let live” peaceful ethos. Hell, I’d quite like to be a hippy, but it wouldn’t quite work out because I think weed is overrated and I get excited to almost erotic levels about making money.
It’s these new-age fake hippies who do my head in. Sipping on their soy lattes, courtesy of the bank of Daddy – complaining about how the world is sooooo bad whilst being incredibly judgemental of everything that everyone in their vicinity does and not contributing anything of substance to the world. Man, that felt good to get that out. I think I’ve being suppressing that one for a while!
Vegetarians Healthy vegetarians – I need your help…
I feel very daunted by the challenge ahead and I feel I’m not really up on my vegetarian knowledge. I have stated my reasons and fears above and I could really do with some qualified advice, so that I can be healthy and happy for these next three months ahead. I’ve actually met a lot of vegetarians on the road who have postponed their veggie diet and reconverted to a meat-eating diet until they return home, as the effort was too much for them and it was ruining their travel experience. This concerns me, as I am also very competitive and don’t want to quit. I don’t want to choose between quitting and starving – I’m not a very nice hungry person to be around.
I especially want to hear from healthy vegetarians who travel a lot, who can inspire me to stay in shape while on the road. Ideally, a vegetarian full-time traveller guy, with a Gerard Butler ’300′ body would give me a lot of hope.
I know this subject creates polarised opinions and is a passionate subject, but I expect people to treat each other with a level of respect and diplomacy on the comments. Or I’ll beat you to death with tofu.