(TW: disordered eating)
Back in 2017, I was fully immersed in diet culture. My goal was to get strong and have as little body fat on me as possible, so I was told by the internet and my personal trainer that I had to eat 30g of protein in every meal (the equivalent of a chicken breast), next to no refined sugars and weigh everything that I ate to track in an app on my phone so that I didn’t go over my energy allowance.
I learnt a lot in that time. Aside from realising that I’d spent years chasing a goal that was impossible to maintain without huge sacrifice, I learnt that putting too much pressure on myself and setting incredibly strict targets made the whole ordeal that much more difficult.
Tara wears the Chepstow with Damazon
I’d get so upset with myself if I was outside of my target by the smallest amount that I’d give up and proceed to stray even further from my goals because I was angry. It was a vicious circle that I’m very glad to be out of.
What I’ve taken with me from that time in my life is an anti-label approach. I used to say “oh I don’t each chocolate” or “I count my calories” but then if ever even for a day I didn’t uphold that, I’d feel like I’d failed, and people around me would question it.
Fast forward a few years and I don’t weigh a single thing or tell anyone that I eat a certain way. In reality my diet is around 70% vegan, but by no means can it be captured properly in just one word. There is no one size fits all with food, and there never will be. My contribution to the planet as far as my diet is concerned doesn’t need to be called anything, it’s just the way I eat.
Labels like “vegan” or even “vegetarian” or similar can be incredibly daunting, which I think is a big reason why some people won’t even attempt it, because the pressure of failure is just too much. I get it, I’ve been there.
Whilst I have the utmost respect for vegans or anyone who is committed to living within strict constraints, we have to remember that it’s not for everyone, and that we can give back to our planet and the animals who live amongst us in different, more digestible (pun totally intended) ways.
So if all of this resonates with you, but like me you still want to do your part to help stop the damage that we’re doing the world around us through mass production of animal products, here are some small suggestions from me:
- Don’t make any rash decisions: go slow. Start opting for meals free of animal products every now and then without making it too big a deal. Buy a vegetarian/vegan cook book (my recommendation would be East by Meera Sodha), try a vegan restaurant.
- Remember that there are other ways to support the planet that don’t involve the way we eat, for example:
- travelling less
- buying local produce
- supporting sustainable fashion brands like culthread
- swapping your car for a bicycle
- using less single use plastic
- educate yourself and people around you on the impact that our lifestyles are having on the planet. The art of not being too pushy deserves its own blog post, but subtle bits of information and the occasional vegan meal prepared at dinner parties works well.
If you have a story you’d like to share with us or any other tips on how to do your part without conforming to the boxes society likes to try and make us all fit into, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us for updates on how we’re committed to doing our part for the planet over on instagram: www.instagram.com/culthread.