There are a number of reasons why people give up meat.
The most publicised currently is probably the animal rights activitists who don't want to eat meat for ethical reasons and as the meat industry has now become just that then they have good points about the disrespect with which some animals are treated on their way to providing us with fodder. Most people certainly wouldn't want to witness what some animals went through in order to provide their cheap supermarket meat.
Some people ar enticed into a meat free lifestyle by health concerns http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/eating-health/
One other reason for people beginning to eat less meat is the enironmental issues surrounding cattle farming. Remember the fuss over 'selfish' people who took holidays that required a plane journey. The effect of cattle rearing on the environment makes a plane journey seem like a walk in the park. Check it our on line. http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
We've been vegetarian in our family now for almost 40 Years and we did it because we didn't like the thought of eating animals, birds or fish.
It wasn't easy then, to access substitute food and it involved replacing meat with lentils and/or beans or relying heavily on dairy products. Unfortunately that is what we tended to do. Soya products were also available but whatever you did with them they tasted like cardboard so not a regular choice. I even had a go at making our own soya milk from the dried beans. Everythiing that had a chance of being healthy was very time consuming.
'Not just a load of lentils' was a cook book I used a lot - my first and Sarah Browns 'Vegetarian Kitchen' was a valued Christmas present that got well used too. I became a bit of a receipe book freak.
Funnily enough developing a greater awareness of healthy eating and balanced diets was a natural benefit of looking for alternative to meat.
Then along came the soya products that had a bit more umph and that made it easier to substitute a not so healthy alternative to the meat we were not using. The variety available continued to grow until it easier to slip into relying on soya products in a busy life.
Now there is a whole range of ready meals and fast foods available that have been developed from pea protein, fungus and much more.
When we gave up meat the norm was meat and two veg. Now its more like burgers, pasta and lots more foods that have been introduced from other countries and not neccessarily that healthy.
It is now so much easier to make a delicious and healthy meat free meal ... and it is also easier to slip into a ready meal fast food lifestyle.
Unfortunately just because it is meat free doesn't follow that it is healthy, Take a look at the ingredients and if you don't know what they are then take the trouble to find out. You will often find for instance products made more appealing with the addition of fats, sugars, salt and other chemical additives.
If your reason for not eating meat are purely because you don't want to eat flesh then that will be okay for you to substiute unhealthy veggie/vegan burgers and chips (cooked in veg. oil)etc. for the more traditional burger and chips from fast food take aways. Of course making your own allows you to keep a check on the ingredients.
As we have progressed through our lives as non meat eaters, we have become more health conscious too. Some years ago Barry qualified as a nutritional therapist then we became more aware of the health detriments of our diet and started to be more careful about what we ate.
We began to notice how the food we ate was actually changing our lives, moods and energy. It is not easy to always eat what is healthy when thousands of pounds are being spent on making the tempting 'treats; and sugar laced confectionery that is out there. And no doubt it will always be a work in progress.
On the other hand some people give up meat because they want to improve their health. There is no doubt about it, that meat you buy now is not the meat it was. With all the antibiotics, and products that are fed to animals to make then as profitable and fleshy as possible there is bound to be an effect. If you do eat meat and you are not buying organic then take a good look at what if happening to your meat before it gets to your pan.
If you must eat meat then eat less and make it organic. Make your choice a healthy one if a little more expensive.
One thing I can say is that stopping the traditional meat and veg meals has made our cuisine a lot more exciting using more herbs and spices and bringing taste tantalising treats to the table. It is not a limited choice there is a whole range of foods out there that we haven't even tried yet,
And when you make a point of eating healthy you really do feel healthier too.
Some of the other benefits I have noticed from not eating meat
- not wondering what that slimy fat is blocking the plughole when washing up.
- not worrying about which fridge shelf to use
- not worrying about cooking things thoroughly and being able to enjoy al dente without worrying about salmonella etc.
- Taking less time to prepare and cook
- Enjoying playing with colours and flavours
- Using more herbs and spices
I'm sure there will be more.