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 celebrities and fictional characters.
Air Asia and their poor, budget 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/vegans 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?
I was raised in a single parent family by a vegetarian mother, but meat wasn’t exactly uncommon 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 ate meat pretty much every day – it’s really rare for me to go a day without eating meat, or other animal products and I can’t even remember the last time that I did.
Sir Paul McCartney asked:
It’s not THAT hard, mate! This is actually a challenge for you?
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 made a slight attempt to go part-time veggie whilst travelling in the Pacific’s lately and it was just miserable. 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).
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? Like yourself, I could not personally kill an animal – even though I eat meat.
The result of this leads to the stench of hypocrisy.
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. That night I’m munching on a lamb stew and I think – what is the difference?
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 (edit: I’ve since learned that calling humans ‘carnivorous’ is incorrect and kind of hilarious) and are supposed to eat meat? Why the big deal?
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 I would 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 iron 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.
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.
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 man 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.
And I do indeed hate being skinny and a few months ago I went from 66KG to 74 KG on a culmination of the Paleo/slow carb diet with regular gym workouts. But my poos were tragic and I felt wear after a while. 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.
Vegetarians Healthy vegetarians/vegans – 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.
Edit: Since writing this post, I no longer consider vegetarianism to be an animal-friendly ideology and I am now vegan. Everything that I wrote at the time of this article felt right at the time of publishing. I may have differing views now, but I don’t want to edit anything here in the post, as it was true for this particular time of my life, and is an interesting flashback on the journey towards investigating my relationship with animals and my eventual conclusion that we should just leave them the f**k alone if we claim to be peaceful, animal-loving people. 🙂
Canadian Animal Right’s Activist Erin Janus does a stellar job explaining why dairy is indeed scary in this brilliant video below: