Alexander Brown: Giving up meat taught me to see food as something to love rather than simply a protein intake

I have not eaten meat for four years, and it’s been the best decision of my life.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those preachy stories telling you to go vegetarian, it’s actually far more about me.

Besides, if you need a columnist to realise animals are friends not food and the killing things for a sandwich is a bit uncool, I’m not sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

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I should preface this by saying I love meat, I love eating it, I love the smell of it, shoving it in bread or simply straight into my face.

Alexander with a friend, not food.Alexander with a friend, not food.
Alexander with a friend, not food.

Meat was something I would never deny myself, even between meals, and I would actively seek out the more obscure kind, albeit not quite to the level of Armie Hammer.

But for so long, I was eating so much of it, something enabled by my body dysmorphia.

I’ve worked out at least three days a week every week since I was a teenager, and fallen prey to every unhealthy attitude towards my body that it brings.

Desperate to get big, I put meat with everything, often to the detriment of my meal in a flawed but somewhat productive attempt to get big.

I was eating amounts of meat Ron Swanson couldn’t handle, two chicken breasts after lunch, two steaks after a workout, more grilled chicken at dinner.

All of this was paired with brown pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, or simply no carbs at all, a time of my life that feels even darker written down.

Food was not about enjoyment, though I had Ragus that made me see God, it was instead a numbers game.

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I was only worried about protein, fat, and carb intakes, with meals more about health benefits than the joy of eating.

Preparing food, sharing it and making it should be joyous, and my mental health had reduced it to statistics.

It was exhausting, but my decision to be a better person came not for one reason, but a multitude.

Firstly, the concept of an abattoir is gross, animals are cute, pigs sing to their young and cows have regional accents.

As a village boy who loves petting literally any animal I see, knowing the above was incompatible with continuing to eat it.

Then there is the climate crisis, which you know is bad because it has the word crisis in it. Not good you guys.

And what joy I have found in giving up and learning to cook properly and see food as a love to be shared, rather than fuel to be inhaled.

Quitting meat meant finding a totally new way to eat, a perception beyond simply meat base plus carbohydrate.

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I became someone who sought out recipes, food writing, and got more excited by foreign supermarkets than the beach.

Giving up meat was a moral choice, but also one for my own well-being, and something I cannot recommend enough.

I don’t feel denied, I am invigorated, healthier, sleep better and can enjoy cute animal content guilt free.

My journey to giving up meat will not be everyone’s, but there are so many reasons, and I hope you find yours.

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