Anyway, towards the Summer of 2012 I started to concentrate on what I was eating more and made a lot more healthier choices, back on stir-frys and introducing a lot more vegetable back into my diet as well as watching my portions – man v food is no joke, I was taught not to leave anything on my plate and it’s a habit very hard to break. I slowly started to lose pounds. Then, the pain hit, OH MY GOODNESS did it hit. I actually stopped eating, it was so bad. I thought at first it was the odd strike of heartburn, but nothing got rid of it – anyway following tests, etc. and me juggling my diet to cut out everything that had more than 3g of saturated fat I started living on jelly, brown rice, veg and cous cous by the bucket load. It worked and within a couple of months, I’d dropped 3stone in weight and had no pain when I ate. However, that in itself - a diet of dust and the odd bit of grain or veg is not good for anyone, and I did find my energy levels lowered. Eventually my operation date came through and then last year I went in for surgery and had my gall bladder removed, spending Mother’s Day propped up on the sofa but looking forward to a ‘real’ Sunday dinner, with gravy and Yorkshires and a huge wedge of carrot cake with lots of cream cheese icing and no pain. All well and good, but by Christmas just gone, I had in fact put a stone and a few pounds back on in weight. I felt disappointed, frumpy and unhealthy. I looked in the mirror and hated everything. I wish I had an ‘off’ switch. It is a food addiction, there is no denying that, and although my husband could easily sit beside me, munch through a chocolate bar and not gain any weight whatsoever (don’t you just hate him) I on the other hand only had to sniff the sealed wrapper and my waistline increased.
Come January this year, I attempted as a bit of health kick ‘veganuary’ as my oldest friends will know I spent my teenage years into my early 20’s as a vegetarian and then something snapped. I went a little ‘wrong’ in many ways and walking into a McDonald’s and ordering a cheeseburger for the very first time as an adult was one of them, but from then I didn’t look back. Admittedly, I still cooked at home for myself, vegetarian meals, but if out with friends or as a guest I wouldn’t bother asking for any special dietary food, I’d eat whatever I was given. As time went on I got into the whole meat fest that is the great British BBQ and loved it; tomato sausage, jerk chicken and coconut snapper being a favourite. My mouth still waters at the taste sensations now… however something was still in the back of my mind. The animals. How could I love my dog, offer a home to a stray cat and then choose to eat a pig? How was that animal any different? Now this is where some people would differ from me, but here’s the shocking truth. Yes, I’d eat cat or dog, I’d eat squirrel, ant, and your grandma if there was no other choice, if it was me and the only passing food, I’d eat it. I intend to live and I value my life as much as the next person. Could I however, put the creature I was going to eat through needless suffering, anxiety, malnutrition, pain and fear just so I, an overweight woman in the city with easy access to everything I could ever want that money could buy, fill my fat face with this creature – no, no I can’t. I went through a phase of only buying ‘free range’ meat and looking for the ‘freedom foods’ logo, which is, in itself, a total joke. I was still eating an 80% vegetarian diet but for entertaining and a take-out curry I was chowing down on Wilbur – and if it’s take out, I doubt it was free-range. Now I’ve never been naive or stupid when it comes to factory farming methods and commercial meat production, but I blinded myself into thinking that free range was better; animals had a bit of a life before they died… bit was correct, a matter of a few months for most. But then slaughter. You only have to google the slaughterhouse to see many awful and poorly managed situations and botched butchery. Countless, needless incidents of suffering. How could I have my own hens and then feel ok to eat chicken? – I couldn’t blind myself to it, not anymore. Also watching my son grow, I’ve never been a fan of mass produced food – albeit a lover of spam, the ration cupboard’s staple, I became uncomfortable with feeding him highly processed anything really. How could I pollute my own child’s body? Anyway, back to me. I attempted veganuary and failed, not with meat, not at all. I didn’t eat masses of the stuff in the first place but with dairy. It is difficult having to buy for a household with varying tastes. My husband I don’t think really gives a damn about animal suffering – don’t get me wrong, if he saw someone trying to shoot birds out of a tree, or tease our cat (and he hates that animal) I do believe he would head-butt them, but as far as any bother over eating meat – non whatsoever, like the majority of society, Yes he reels at the way in which slaughterhouses are run and how animals are farmed, but it doesn’t stop him eating it. However, I no longer buy meat for our household and he is fully supportive of that. However, my biggest downfall is cheese. And it still surprises me today the amount of people that don’t understand a cow has to be pregnant in order to supply milk (the same as eggs are basically a hens period and no they do not all contain chicks – they have to be fertilised first)… Anyway, cheese… I can avoid milk (although skimmed milk appears to be stuffed into everything these days; always read that packaging) but cheese, I genuinely adore cheese and vegan cheese is, in my opinion, a foul tasting chemical shitstorm. So at present we are dealing with my ability to give up cheese. My husband who was an alcoholic for many years made quitting drink look like a walk in the park in comparison to my inability to give up cheese or galaxy (I do buy vegan chocolate, but when my husband pops to the corner shop for his tobacco and comes back with a block of chocolate, offers me a square, I can’t say no, I have on the odd occasion, but it really is rare). I remember though, when he was trying to quit drink, he had free counselling, support, a reduction plan and me in his ear – for me, there is no real support network for overeating, not free anyway, £6 a time at fat-club for someone to weigh you, and I can make myself feel rubbish when I get on the scales for free, minus the audience of well-wishers. Anyway, slowly I figure I will phase out all the unnecessary products and work on a more cruelty-free diet, It’s not as easy a change as I thought it would be for me, but that all boils down to me, but meat I don’t miss. I can still dream of a tomato sausage, but I can also see right into that pig’s soul and videos I’ve watched of slaughterhouses I can’t un-see, the mental images remain.
Don’t get me wrong, as I said, I would eat anything if I had to, but I don’t have to. I do fully believe in a ‘survivalist’ lifestyle but with that comes responsibility. Foraging, my family love it – last year my son was right with us, picking rowan and various hedge berries and herbs to turn into pickles and jams. It was fantastic to teach him the basics of life skills, identifying food sources, building shelters, navigation. Lots of people put emphasis on our education system, the curriculum etc. etc. My husband and I fortunately share the same belief system that the world we live in is one huge classroom and it can’t all be learned from inside four walls with 30 other children all with varying needs and abilities and characters vying for attention. Yes, we certainly will be sending our son to school, but we don’t necessarily feel that the government’s idea of an education for our son is the be all and end all. There is so much more to be learnt and the most basic skill we can teach our boy is survival. Fortunately for us, he is quite a ‘Mowgli’ and every morning is up at 5.30am with his wellies on begging to go outside come rain or shine. It’s quite frustrating for us, especially as we aren’t as enthusiastic as him all the while. Anyhow, this summer we intend to take him fishing, I know, I hear every animal lover recoil in fear, but anything he catches, he will be eating. We aren’t encouraging him to learn a new pastime; we are teaching him how to live. One family in a boat is nothing in comparison to huge companies and their trawler nets of destruction. I want our son to understand there is more to life than ‘what money can buy’. We grow our own veg. Not a lot; our garden isn’t huge, but enough. We swap our food with other like-minded friends. That age old system of kindness, I cook your dinner if you help me paint a fence. Money can buy the cheese I crave but that £2.50 block of cheese is also a bag of potatoes, put in the ground or pots and grown with a patient watchful eye turns into several meals, thank you gifts, swaps for other veg and even more potatoes once re-planted. I believe an education of sustainability, kindness and fortitude through constant life lessons is more important than always hitting the league table targets, wearing the most expensive labels or buying those tinned branded goods. I’m ok with cheapside :) and there ain’t nothing cheaper and more easily sustainable than seasonal fruit and vegetables – cruelty free.
Wow I digressed a lot through that didn’t I, but it all kinda links in, plus having my son haul me off the sofa (it is leather, my parents bought it for me - it cost a lot of money and I have had it for 10 years… and possibly will have it another 10 because I don’t need to keep changing things to keep up with societal trends) and make me look at the latest bird to land in our garden. He does like his birds. Anyway, originally I started with diet, well there you go, back on a vegetarian diet, with vegan ideals and a survivalist mind-set. Bet that’s totally confused you. Wait till we start talking prepping and off the grid living, you’ll be even more lost then. :D Stay tuned for even more confusing early morning warblings.
Oh and yes, I’m losing weight again, eating ‘processed’ free, the weight is dropping off and my body is being filled with lovely vitamins and minerals from all the fresh produce. Bonus. Just gotta ease up on the cakes and bakes. ;)