Wowsers! It's hard to believe that...I’ve not eaten animals in 30 years
I've just turned 43 years old. And, I've not eaten animals since around my thirteenth birthday.
This is not a meat-eater DIS (claimer)
I don’t eat certain animal products for ethical & environmental reasons as this feels right for me.
However, as a Naturopath, in my 10 years of practice:
— I have never convinced a client to go Vegetarian or Vegan.
(I simply support them to be healthy if they already follow these diets.)
— I have actually convinced a number of my clients to return to eating seafood and/or animals (in moderation), for their health — should their case warrant this.
I’m not here to preach my values and beliefs to you in this blog-post. I’m just here to talk about the reality — as I see it. And, I respect your decision to choose what is right for you, as I don’t like when people judge me for what I eat or don’t eat.
However! I truly loathe it when someone teases me about caring that meat comes from animals… Then I will judge them and think them a total douche. And, I’ll pray — really hard — that they come back as a dairy cow… 😉
I would love it if everyone followed a Vegan diet for the sake of the animals and for our home, Planet Earth — myself included!
‘Healthy’ Vegans are an inspiration to me — they will be the saviours of our modern world.
I don’t think I’m better than you because I don’t eat animals…
Not everything is about you, Sunshine!
I used to be a ravenous Carnivore... right up until I wasn't
It’s kind of crazy to think that my 43rd birthday this year marked me having not eaten meat for 30 years! (And, for the first 14 years of those years I was full Vegetarian; which meant I didn’t eat seafood either.)
Note: No animals eaten by Lisa Fitzgibbon – since 1988.
While it may sound like a huge ‘animal sacrifice’, it has simply become a way of life for me. Which is quite strange, really — given that I used to love meat. In fact, I was quite the little Carnivore. My favourite food was meat: roasts (and gravy), corned beef (with cheese sauce for dinner, and mustard spread when used cold on sammies), mince, meat pies, meat pizza, ham, bacon, steak, lamb burgers, chicken, pate, and Segg (a type of luncheon sausage back-in-the-day). The only meat I didn’t like was lambs-fry, liver and pork chops… But, who actually does like these — am I right?!
At some point when I was a kid though, my mother decided to become a Vegetarian for health reasons. However, the more she looked into it, the more she started considering the ethical issues that surrounded the whole issue. For ages she kept telling me that I had to think more about where meat came from. My argument was that I could no more think of a piece of meat coming from an animal than I could a segment of orange!
Note: In my defence, I had only ever seen ‘flesh’ come in a styrofoam, plastic covered tray from the supermarket or butchery. And I was a ‘Townie’- so I wasn’t particularly au fait with live, furry ‘moo-cows’ either.
But she persisted with, “You must think about it — if you choose to eat it”. (She wanted to teach me about the reality of what I was effectively ignoring.) However, it just did not compute with me — besides I didn’t really want to think about it. I liked eating meat — meat was scrummy.
Then one day, Sharron (that’s what I call mum), changed tactics with me. She said this — and I still remember the way these words made me feel to this day:
“Oh, but Lisa… Just imagine a cow — with iTs big brown eyes and its big beating heart…”
Well, that went and did it now, didn’t it?
She had to go and make it all personal.
(Damn you, woman — she knows I have a very vivid imagination.)
I’ve been a staunch non-meat eater ever since (around my 13th birthday). And no-one (no-one!) has ever been able to get me to eat the stuff — no matter how hard they’ve tried. Particularly back then, it was considered very odd to be a “Vegetarian” and people found a sick kind of pleasure in trying to be the one who would ‘break me’ by tempting me into a meat-eating frenzy…
Please read on to find out my personal experience with a Vegetarian diet, as well as my professional take on it.
Lisa's mum said so
I'm a staunch non-meat eater
Well, that’s not entirely true… I have briefly chewed on it a couple of times 😉
One time when I was 20 years old, my ex and I were VERY (very) drunk and also incredibly famished.
(It was in the ‘wee small hours’…) So, we decided to get chinese takeaway and take it to the park. He ordered the ‘pork’ and I had the ‘vegetarian’.
However, I was soon to discover that they had mucked my order up. My food was full of pork! (We were eating in the dark.)
To add to this, my ex was soon to discover, that they had also mucked up HIS order — they had forgotten to put the pork in his dish. So obviously, there was nothing else to do, but to kindly gift him every piece of pork that I carefully chewed upon and spat out.
Sadly, at the time, we were too drunk to figure out that we were actually consuming each others meals…
Note: I could probably add 2-3 occasions where I’ve accidentally put meat in my mouth because of communication break-downs when dealing with people who don’t speak English. But, I quickly spat it out once I detected it…
I have never reneged on my decision or regretted it.
Because I simply changed what meat meant to me.
It's 'Meat-free Monday' every day in our household
Thankfully, DMF (my partner) does not like meat… So, when we ‘hooked up’ he gladly gave it up. And, he is as staunch as I am when it comes to avoiding this ‘food-group’.
No more fumbling around awkwardly in the dark for me now!
Unfortunately, I wasn't the most healthy of Vegetarians
Like a lot of Vegetarians or Vegans who give up meat for ethical or environmental reasons, I didn’t actually give much thought to my diet — or to my health. I was just happy eating ‘whatever’, as long as it didn’t contain meat, chicken or seafood. (Or any derivatives thereof.)
Back when I first became a Vegetarian (in the late 80s), when you got the meat-free option, they simply removed the meat from the order and added a few extra veggies if you were lucky. There were no meat substitutes.
Note: That’s not entirely true. If you got ‘Vegetarian’ from the ‘Chinese Takeaway’ they would substitute Gluten into your dish! Yup, big ole chunks of pure Gluten were used to replace the meat. It’s funny when you look back at these things…
When I left home, Sharron kept telling me to “ensure that you eat protein”. Well, back then, I didn’t really know what protein was and why it was necessary to eat it… So, I was always ‘like’: “yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever”. And that’s as far as it ever got.
Then, when I was 27 years old I returned to live in New Zealand. I had been living in London for 1.5 years. There, because of the living arrangements (there were seven of us living under one roof), DMF and I pretty much ate home-made salad with grated cheese and oven fries every night for dinner. Or, if we didn’t do that, we’d eat Indian Takeaway. Now, before I left NZ my cervix was fine, but while I was over there, they discovered that I had CIN3 — pre-cancer of the cervix (There are two milder stages before CIN3: CIN2 and CIN1). So, when I returned to NZ I had to have LLETZ procedure straight away. (Where they remove rogue cervical tissue.)
I was super pale and very gaunt looking when I came home to NZ. (This would have been due to my overall diet. I was also drinking a lot of ‘V’ and having a lot of giant Snickers bars…) At this point my mother showed great remorse — she blamed herself for my lack of health and said she should never have convinced me to stop eating meat. (Not that we can blame this for me having developed ‘pre-cancer of my bits’.)
From there she started harping on at me that I should return to eating meat. But, I couldn’t. I had not only made a solemn vow to the ‘moos’ but also to my 13 year old self — and be buggared if I was going to let either of them down. However, my mother eventually convinced me to eat seafood. She said this to me — and I still remember the way these words made me feel to this day:
“Someones got to survive, Lisa — is it going to be you — or the fishes?”
And because she knew that I’d have picked the fishes over myself… She added:
“And… You can’t help the animals if you aren’t WELl”.
Hmm — she made a good point. And, I’ve eaten seafood — reluctantly mind you — ever since. (Reluctantly, I say, because unless I was literally starving, or I encountered a creature suffering from horrific non-repairable injuries(!), I don’t believe I could kill something myself.)
Note: Please know, that I had made no other attempt to improve my health – other than to add this food-group back in. I worked in Advertising back then 😉
I’ve consumed seafood now for the last 16 years. And, for the last two years, I haven’t eaten dairy products either, because I don’t believe they are particularly good for your health, and I certainly don’t believe that they are good for the health of the dairy cows or for the health of our environment (which is primarily why I boycott them).
Note: On my recent trip to Europe I did eat dairy when necessary. It’s hard enough not eating meat in some countries let alone being ‘dairy free’. But, I knew I would have to do this when I made my decision to travel there. However, I’m back on the no-dairy bus (cattle truck) now.
Having a varied diet, eating adequate protein and taking iodine has made a dramatic improvement in my health.
Moby — he's no dick.
“At the end of the day, what sustains me as an activist is love. The unconditional love I have for all animals. And I think that’s the best part of who I am, and I think it’s the best part of who we are. Every animal, no matter how big or how small or how wild or how domesticated, wants to be alive and simply wants to be happy.” – June 2018
Reasons to give up consuming animals
01—You believe that animals are sentient beings — not meals!
I decided long ago that I did not want to be the reason for another living, breathing, feeling creature’s death. Especially when I couldn’t kill one myself, I wasn’t starving and there were other perfectly good foods available.
And thus, I decided to put their interests ahead of my own.
Note: Please don’t be all dicky and judgey here – that while I don’t eat most animals that I continue to eat seafood and eggs. Rather than this, how about you worry about what you’re doing to help make this planet a better place for all of us 😉
02—You care about any of the following...
Climate change, air pollution, coral bleaching (dying), ocean dead zones, fish dying, water pollution, rainforests being raped and pillaged (and subsequent habitat destruction and wild-life species extinction), biodiversity and sustainability1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8:-)
From my understanding: While the carbon dioxide that is generated by the transport and ‘energy’ sectors is undeniably bad for our climate, animal agriculture generates nitrous oxide and methane which have an even more dramatic effect on our ‘Global Warming’.
Global warming doesn’t just affect the ‘air’, it also effects the ocean — because the sea regulates our planet’s temperature. If the sea increases in temperature by 2 degrees celsius (or more) then our coral reefs bleach (or die). The fish need the coral reefs to survive — and the ocean needs the fish to clean it and to feed the other fishes… and to feed us! (I won’t even go into our over-fishing issue here.)
The effluent created by Animal Agriculture, directly leads to algal blooms and the loss of species (as well as undrinkable fresh water).
Note: A harmful algal bloom are organisms that can severely lower oxygen levels in natural waters, killing marine life.
We are stressing-out our oceans, and parts of them are dying as a consequence. And, if our oceans die, we die. Because the plankton & plants (seaweed and algae) that it contains generates around half the oxygen that we breathe.
Back on land now…
Our Rainforests also generate a great deal of oxygen for us (they also ‘sop up’ our carbon dioxide). And, as you already know, these are being destroyed at an alarming rate to (largely) make room for animal agriculture.
Converting animals into ‘food’ is highly uneconomical. It wastes a LOT of land, water, and crops. Our planet’s Animal Agriculture hasn’t been sustainable for many years, and things are only getting worse with our ever-increasing population.
Note: The current world population of 7.6 billion is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a recent United Nations report (2017).
Make no mistake, we (ever-increasing and over-demanding humans) are “shitting in our own nests” (to quote an apt saying from my father).
03—Animal products create inflammation and contribute to excess oestrogen
In the human diet the biggest source of arachidonic acid is from animal products. Arachidonic acid is precursor to the pro-inflammatory two series prostaglandins in the body. These are considered ‘bad’ because they lead to platelet stickiness, which leads to hardening of the arteries, heart disease, and strokes.
Note: This is especially a problem when this ‘acid’ is not opposed in the diet by seafood with its Omega-3 content.
People who over-consume ‘animals’ have a gut full of E.coli, Klebsiella and Citrobactor which produce higher levels of particular enzymes (beta-glucuronidases) which effectively stop oestrogen from being excreted from the body, and therefore this hormone stays in the body as an active component9.
Note: Beta-glucorinidase levels are also increased when inflammation is present…
In women, oestrogen excess contributes to heavy & painful periods, menstrual clotting, fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, and auto-immune conditions (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.)
In men, oestrogen excess contributes to low sperm counts, low libido, erectile dysfunction, and prostate cancer.
Avoiding (or at least reducing!) meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on the earth
People seem so shocked when they realise that the animals they were eating haven’t been pasture fed/raised.
I guess once the fancy restaurants started advertising their steak as being ‘grass-fed’, we should have twigged that the usual stuff wasn’t…
The more we think we are being ‘good’ by demanding ‘free range’ or ‘grass-fed’ animal products, the better it may be for the health of the farm animals (and for us) but the worse it will get for the planet.
The moral it would seem is:
The unhealthier and unhappier the meat, the better it is for the planet?!
There is no winning here.
It would appear that:
You can’t have your planet… and eat meat too!
Reasons not to give up eating animals
01—Because we're meant to eat meat, right?
You are convinced that because we have four canine teeth that we are designed to eat animals…
(Please see the ‘box’ below.)
02—It makes your diet more diverse
At OOMPH the one overriding dietary recommendation I make is that your diet be as diverse as possible.
Because any time you restrict your diet in any way, you are at risk of:
— Developing food intolerance due to over-consuming the limited number of foods that you do eat.
— Being inadequately nourished because you may miss out on important vitamins, minerals and fats.
— Upsetting your gut microbiome which prefers a varied diet to be able to provide us with well-rounded health benefits.
03—Plant based diets are perfect for the planet — they're just not perfect for all humans
I have many clients who suffer gastrointestinal distress from eating certain types of fruit, veggies, grains, nuts, and pulses.
A lot of my clients can’t eat plant-based foods such as: onions, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, bananas, apples, oranges, berries, almonds, wheat, rye, lentils, and beans.
A good tongue lashing...
The length of our intestines, the size of our stomach (and the strength of our stomach acid), as well as our short, soft fingernails all STRONGLY indicate that we are herbivores.
However, if you wanna believe that just because we have four itty-bitty blunt canine teeth that we are capable of killing an animal and tearing apart its flesh… Well, unfortunately you’re suffering from delusions of grandeur! As herbivores, with our fleshy lips and strong muscular tongues, we’re better equipped for, well, french kissing animals than we are for killing and eating them 😉 10,11,12
We are opportunistic carnivores at best. This means we are flesh-eating when the opportunity presents itself — basically, when someone cuts up our meat on our plate for us… It is not natural for us to eat meat because we need weapons, fire, cutlery, onions, garlic, salt & pepper, and some kind of sauce or marinade to do so.
We can live without meat — we don’t actually need it; we just want it.
FYI: Gorillas, and other herbivores, have ‘slightly’ bigger canines than us, and they don’t eat meat.
Note: Carnivores jaws swing only vertically to tear – they do not chew their food. Ours swing both ways (laterally; to crush and grind plant matter.) Our eight front incisors are also well suited for biting into fruits and veggies.
Humans (without all of their 'accessories') are really about as menacing as a Giant Flemish Bunny!
If you've given-up eating animals or you're thinking about giving them up.
I hope you’ve thought this through PROPERLY…
When I meet new clients who are Vegetarians or Vegans I always begin with asking them why they follow this particular diet. Are they doing it for health reasons, ethical reasons, environmental reasons, or are they just ‘doing it’ because it’s currently en vogue?
If they are doing it for any other reason bar ethical or environmental, then I generally encourage them to consider reintroducing it into their diet in moderation… Because I don’t necessarily believe it’s a particularly healthy diet — by default. You have to work to make this diet a healthy one:
You’ve got to ensure your diet is diverse
You can’t have ‘soy’ and ‘chickpea’ everything and expect to be healthy. (Check out one of the blog-posts I’ve written on the topic of food intolerance here.)
You need to ensure that you remain big & strong
You must be sure that you know where your protein is coming from, and that you eat sufficient amounts of it.
Supplement your diet
You need to ‘make-up’ for certain nutrients that are primarily found in animal products & seafood by supplementing your diet with such things as iron, B12, B-group vitamins, zinc, and iodine.
If you're going to continue (or restart) eating animals
I hope you’ve thought this through PROPERLY…
Please give some thought to where your meat comes from (not simply from an economic or industrial perspective but also from an ethical and environmental perspective). And, if you’re still okay with this reality — then others need to respect your decision even though they may strongly disagree with it. However, please consider:
Having your animal killed somewhat “humanely”
And by this I mean, either hunt and kill it yourself, or have it ‘home killed’ on the farm where it was raised — to prevent the unnecessary distress this animal must suffer at the Slaughter House. Don’t let this damned creature ‘see it coming’.
Note: Let’s not kid ourselves though, there is nothing humane about killing something… unless of course there is no other option.
ModeratING your animal intake
Try to reduce the amount of animal products that you eat on a weekly basis — for the health of all concerned.
And, consider eating smaller animals that don’t require so much of our precious resources such as chickens, ducks, rabbits, possums etc.
Let's all stop being so dicky & judgemental and just focus on what you can do to help our planet, aye?!
While everyone is different — in so many ways, I think we can all agree that we have our (flailing) environment in common.
Therefore there is no need to take sides in this debate. Let’s just have a sliding scale to suit everyone. The planet needs us to focus on it — not on one another; on what they are or aren’t doing.
Let’s all just do what we can do! Here are some options for us:
(I’m not really into labels, but for simplicities sake…)
Become a HEALTHY vegan
If you are able to do this, then mucho respect to you — you are my hero! xo
Give up the bits that you can give up
Become a healthy Vegetarian or Pescatarian.
(I’ve given up meat & dairy… but I haven’t yet given up seafood & eggs).
Note: Meat-eaters – don’t be dicky and judge Vegetarians who choose to wear leather… It’s not cool. Pull your head in, and worry about what you’re doing to help make this planet a better place.
Reduce your animal product consumption
Instigate meat-free Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/and Thursday!
Note: Vegetarians, Vegans and Pescatarians – don’t be dicky and judgey to people who eat meat. Just be a good example of ‘health’, and hopefully the meat-eaters will ask you more about your lifestyle and why you choose to live this way. Be an inspiration not an ass-piration.
Ramp up your animal intake…!
That way when you quickly die from colon cancer you’ll actually be helping to address a root cause of our problem; over-population 😉