By Renae Leith
Many of my friends have gone vegan. Many others have given up drinking – for good. According to The Economist, in 2018, 8% of the world population was vegan, and the number was growing. Around 18% percent of the world’s population doesn’t drink at all.
Companies Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are dominating the food market with vegetarian meat-like alternatives, and Burger King has done a deal to soon serve up plant based patties in their whoppers. It’s admirable, it’s healthy and it’s to be respected. I have noticed plant based alternatives popping up in Australian supermarkets next to the meat trays.
Most are going vegan because of the reported effects meat production has on the environment as well as (also reportedly) their own health, both of which are regularly debated in the press. But just because many others of us are still eating meat, cheese and full fat everything and washing it down with a regular glass of wine, doesn’t make us bad people.
It is fast becoming trendy to attack meat eaters in person or on social media. And there are plenty of people who have given up the booze for a year or more and claim to now be “holier than thou” and who have forgotten they’ve spent the last decade or more being a regular drinker. They take aim at drinkers regularly having a go and spouting health statistics at drinkers telling them they’re unhealthy.
I won’t go into great detail about the many contradictions of so-called healthy meat alternatives and the alternative potentially negative effects on the environment, and the fact many are not what they say they are; although this story about American brand Tyson food whose plant based products are not plant based at all is a real life example.
Nor will I mention in detail the alternative chemical stimulants some people turn to when they give up drinking. (Acknowledging of course that many do not reach for these and are actually totally clean).
The real issue here is mutual respect and a recognition we are all doing our best to live a balanced life and to support the environment in which we live. Accepting and supporting each other for our choices is surely far more important than trying to force our neighbours to “be like us”.
I have vegan weeks, I have eaten meat substitutes and often go for extended periods of time without alcohol both before, during and after I visit health retreats. But one of life’s greatest pleasures is surely a rib eye steak with a fabulous glass or two of French Red and a fresh, green salad.
I enjoy a piece of fresh fish with a pinto grigio and one of my favourite activities is visiting wineries around the globe. I have given up soft drinks as my contribution to less green house emissions and less sugar in my body, but wine and champagne are two of life’s joys.
My approach is one of balance, and I would like to think one of openness. Anyone is welcome at my table, and I hope I have food and drink options that work for them whatever their allergies and preferences.
But please don’t judge me – and I won’t judge you. Simple really. Cheers.
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