I am an Austrian Vegan
It is no secret that a healthy diet contributes to mental health and is vital for stress management. How would you define your diet? Have you found one that makes you feel healthy and energised? I have: I’m an Austrian Vegan. “What on earth is that?” I hear you asking. Well, let me tell you my story:
I was a little girl, maybe four or five years old and was at my Grandma’s house eating a schnitzel. The day before, at my grandparents’ farm, a pig was slaughtered and a butcher came to take it apart. That butcher was still in the basement of my grandparents’ house, working away at the pig, butchering it into different cuts and making sausages to be frozen later. This happened every year, it was what families in the countryside did back in the 80s. I always hated it, yet I sat there eating a pork schnitzel. My uncle, a teenager back then, came up to me and poked me in the arm and laughed: “you’re eating the little piggy they killed yesterday”. A very confident, five year old me replied “NO! I’m eating a schnitzel.” To which my uncle answered, laughing even more “where do you think that schnitzel comes from?” And then it happened; the little synapses in my brain started connecting things and I realised: I’m eating an animal. Tears ran down my cute little cheeks; yet I kept eating my schnitzel. The Austrian Vegan was born.
In my heart I was a vegan. I didn’t want to eat animals, I wanted to play with them. Fast forward to my early forties, I’m not a little girl anymore and I have done my research into the meat industry. I no longer want to support this awful practice of mass meat and dairy production. If more people would look into how their favourite sausage or yoghurt is being produced, there’d be a lot less consumption of animal products.
But, and there is a but… in my stomach, I’m Austrian. A Schnitzel. A Wurstsemmel. A Käsekrainer. The smell alone makes my mouth water, I can’t help myself and just have to have some meat and cheese every once in a while. You think: hypocrite much? Maybe. I respect vegans and their determination to avoid any animal product. Although I do not understand things such as avoiding honey. And if I keep my own chickens (hopefully one day!) and they are happily marching and healthily fed in the backyard, minding their own business, I don’t see why I shouldn’t eat their eggs. I’m not judging those who refuse to do that but I expect vegans to respect my decisions too. What I certainly do not understand are those people who create a massive outcry when they see some online video of dogs being eaten in China and then go to their discount grocery store and buy meat where the cow or pig has probably been treated a lot worse.
But what to eat? There’s a moral, environmental and a health decision people have to make. Is it natural for humans to live a full-on vegan lifestyle? No. And please do not quote Netflix documentaries and start talking about teeth. There’s a few vitamins and nutrients one cannot get based on a pure plant diet. The most well known deficit is Vitamin B12. Nature is perfect. Nature wouldn’t make us vegan and make us Vitamin B12 or Creatine deficient herbivores. We are omnivores. Luckily, as a vegan, you can consume a healthy diet and replace animal products with Vitamin B12 fortified products and supplements. Anyway. This is only how I’ve come to this conclusion. If you need more scientific evidence (no Netflix documentary or Peta articles) review this report published by Nature (partly paywall) https://www.nature.com/articles/nature16990
So, we are not naturally vegan but that doesn’t mean we need to eat meat every day. Also, everybody has a different DNA make up and needs either more meat or some meat; can’t digest dairy at all or can easily tolerate it and the list goes on. There’s a whole science based around DNA and nutrition and I won’t go into much more detail in this article. No matter what, one thing is for sure: most people eat too much meat. I hear the meat eaters say “but back in the day” or “my grandparents” etc blah blah. Well, back in the day most people couldn’t afford meat on a regular basis. They certainly didn’t eat meat several times a day. Also, the meat “back in the day” didn’t have all the additives such as antibiotics and growth hormones that make us ill.
So. What’s the solution? That’s up to you. For most people it is safe to be vegetarian or even vegan, given they monitor their supplements carefully. However, it is not healthy to eat animal products every day. I have pretty much cut out a lot of meat and dairy products from my diet. For ethical and health reasons I try to source animal products from ethically and organically managed farms when I eat animal products. I just don’t want to eat meat from an animal that has been perched on a transporter for days, treated like a commodity. I have found lots of vegan products that I really like. There’s some decent Italian vegan sausages at a UK retailer that I always buy. I have figured out how to make a really good vegan bolognese sauce with mushrooms and silken tofu. It took a few attempts but I even found good vegan ice cream. Do watch the sugar content though - vegan doesn’t automatically mean healthy, always read the label. I found a vegan cheese range that’s great for cooking with too. I tried vegan feta cheese but it was gross and went straight in the bin. If you have found a good brand, let me know!
At first the thought of going mostly vegetarian or even vegan was actually quite stressful for me. I didn’t know what to eat. But now I have found and also created good recipes and ways of cooking that are time efficient, healthy and most importantly for me: tasty!
As part of my stress management and wellness coaching we can work on your nutrition too. Get in touch for more info!
Have you already figured what works best for you? Have some great Vegan recipies? Please share your experience!
This article has also been published in Thrive Global