I came across this term last week, I’m ashamed to say I’ve forgotten where because the lady who wrote it deserves credit. If it was you do tell me because that’s me, in a nutshell!
I have been vegetarian since I was 13 years old after staying with my aunt in Tasmania who took one of her sheep off in the front seat of her car and brought it back as a joint of lamb. I knew where meat came from of course, I’d just never seen it actually happen.
I was lucky. My parents’ embraced my vegetarianism completely. My mother became vegetarian as well and my father barely eats meat to this day. My brother was 6 at the time so had absolutely no choice in the matter (he has since rebelled by becoming a sausage eating carnivore).
On top of this I have always been lactose intolerant. Not in a “I will die if you bring cheese near me” kind of way, but more in a “spasming stomach and unpleasantly icky kind of way”. I have always used dairy alternatives where I can and my mother has always been magnificent at inventing vegetarian recipes that do not have cheese.
I originally gave up meat for very typical “teenage girl” reasons. I did not want the lovely little animals to die. As I grew older I learned things about farming methods and animal cruelty. I became unbelievably strict with my diet. I became a fully paid up member of the Vegan Police. I ate no meat, no fish, no dairy, no honey, no eggs. I wore no leather. I was a woman obsessed! And then a few years ago I got ill. Really ill. It was around the same time I met Himself (a man who will not be vegetarian-ised!). Together we researched organic, locally farmed meat and eggs and slowly I started bringing them back into my diet. Slowly as the protein did its work I got better.
This year I decided I was in a position to give up animal products again but sensibly, using alternative methods of protein. Obviously the dairy’s not too much of a problem. If I do eat some cheese I’m soon reminded why I shouldn’t.
But then we have the egg issue. You see I love eggs so much. I never admitted to myself how much I missed them when I was vegan before. I love golden mounds of scrambled egg on (non-dairy) buttery toast. I love two perfectly fried eggs between two pieces of homemade bread – I love biting into the yellow domes of yolk and letting it run down my chin…. Mmmm-hmmmm!
I don’t want to live a restrictive life anymore. Life has enough restrictions anyway. So I have found my compromise. I don’t use eggs if I don’t have to. I bake without eggs, I make batter without eggs, I make the best sweetcorn fritters ever without eggs. But then, once or twice a week I treat myself.
I do not condone farming and shopping methods in the UK. I do not condone what the large supermakets do to the farmers. I shop at farmers’ markets and organic delivery stores. But my shoes are now leather, they keep my feet dryer and Tasmanian honey is too good not to eat.
Ahimsa isn't just about being kind to everything around us, it's about being kind to ourselves as well. And that is something I have always been very very bad at.