Animal farm


Wellbeloved’s sausage and bacon

After 31 and half years of being a vegetarian, this month, I started eating meat and fish again. It wasn’t a rushed decision. It was something I had been considering for years. And no one thing triggered it. There were lots of reasons.

The first reason for eating meat was that I no longer believed my original premise for becoming vegetarian – that it was morally wrong to kill animals. I had not believed that for many years. But the status quo was that I was a vegetarian and I needed to be convinced to proactively change.

Not a question of taste

For many years I have been asking people who eat meat to convince me that there was a moral reason why I should eat meat. Nobody even tried to convince me. Most just said they ate meat because it “tastes nice”. That was not a good enough reason.

Just before Christmas I read The Meat Fix, by John Nicholson. The book has its inconsistencies but contains some interesting observations and ideas that I have since looked into. About two months ago I read every word on the Vegetarian Society’s website and was just not convinced by any of it.

We have to kill animals. Obviously you’d kill a fellow human being in self-defence. The same goes for animals. But as a vegetarian you soon start to widen the definition of self-defence – you kill mosquitoes, then flies and then mice in your house and so on. The lie, like the animals, gets bigger.

In reality, we’re part of an ecosystem, a food chain. We must protect that – by not feeding diced up dead animals to vegetarian livestock (the cause of 1984’s Mad Cow disease), for example. There is an ethical element to our position within the food chain, but it does mean we should eat meat.

Healthy option

Then there’s the health side. After my stroke, when doctors could find no explanation, the one thing they noticed was that I had low vitamin B12 levels – B12 only comes from animals.

My (also vegetarian) stroke doctor told me to eat more cheese. But my healthily low cholesterol levels rose. I switched to B12 injections. I don’t want to have injections to replace something I could eat.

Then there’s the question of alternatives. Do you realise how processed a  lot of vegetarian food is– soya mince is chemically constituted from the leftovers when soya beans have been processed beyond recognition.

Chemical engineering

I was at the launch of Quorn when I was the chemical correspondent on The Engineer. It was invented by ICI, owners of Dulux Paint and inventors of various plastics, fabric and fibres. What was I thinking eating chemically developed and manufactured products?

OK, so we ate mainly healthy vegetables and pulses but we ate a bit of bought-in so-called “healthy” stuff that was actually a chemical miracle. And just think how much chemical engineering must go into making sunflower or olive oil into a solid “healthy” alternative to butter.

So, my plan is to eat meat and milk and cream and butter (not spreadable butter) and eggs as well as the healthy vegetables and pulses. It will be in moderation – I won’t be eating meat or fish seven or even five days a week. What I will be cutting out is the processed food made in huge factories.

Think global, shop local

I will be trying to eat meat from free-range, grass-fed animals and fish from sustainably fished sources. I am currently using local butcher Wellbeloved of Deptford and Soper the fishmonger in Nunhead. But I will visit farms and buy from other sources.

I became a vegetarian aged 16 in the first term of sixth form (do you remember when you knew it all?). I decided that it was morally wrong to kill animals in a naïve belief that all animals are equal. Actually, some animals are more equal than others.

Tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

96 Responses to Animal farm

  1. Frankie Smith says:

    I became vegetarian overnight when I was 22. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and back then (late seventies) there were no ready-made veggie options in the supermarkets. I didn’t much like beans so hardly ever ate them and over the next few years slid into annorexia and depression. By the time I hit 30 I had literally no energy and no apetite and felt that I was anaemic. My GP disagreed and told me that the chronic tiredness was all in my mind. Stupidly, I believed him, and carried on for years eating the same way.
    In a way, after all those years, going back to eating meat seems an almost bizarre thing to do. It just doesn’t seem ‘normal’ anymore. It also means having to admit that I’ve been an idiot for most of my adult life.
    This week (I’m now in my 60s) I bought a tin of corned beef. I can’t face dealing with raw meat yet. I put it in the cupboard and am waiting till I feel brave enough to try it. I’ve felt so rotten for so long now I find it hard to believe that eating meat will make me feel any better.

    • Nikki says:

      I hope you are eating meat. After five decades and declining health I made the really difficult move back to eating meat. My bad health and depression started lifting immediately.

  2. Moller Roller says:


  3. animal liberation says:

    You are my hero. Very articulate and well researched. We need more people like you in this world having these conversations with people who need educating and awareness about the agriculture industries across the globe. There is no such thing as ‘humane killing’ and so long as people choose to be ignorant, billions of animals will continue to suffer and be murdered all for the few minutes of consumption of our plates.

    – Thank you, from a fellow vegan who loves their life

  4. Jay says:

    I think the Blue Zone book makes the most sense to me. I think that Paleo and vegan are both extreme. People that live in the blue zone eat meat about 4-5 times per month and the rest is lots of lower fat grains, fruits, veggies and nuts/seeds. I also don’t judge however factory farming is wrong in the way that treat animals.

  5. Alexis says:

    Hi, love the George Orwell quote!

    • Jade says:

      Whatever works for you. Been meat free for 17 years for the same reason you were. It’s just become a badge of honor and an example of self discipline that I feel I need to keep. Can’t re-create a good coney dog no matter how hard I try! Be yourself buddy, more power to you!

  6. George says:

    Omnivore here who is going the opposite way from eating meat/dairy products to just eating plant-based food. Three books convinced me to give it a go – The China Study by T Colin Campbell, How Not To Die by Michael Gregor, The Campbell Plan by Thomas Campbell. It would appear (from reading the comments here) that the vegetarians/vegans who are reverting back to eating meat is mainly due to concern about their health. This suggests to me that their diet is/was wrong. If their staple food is bread, rice, wheat (or whatever other grains) which have been refined into products such pasta, cake, branded commercial cereals, white rice etc.. then I am not surprised when they say their health appears to be deteriorating.

    {By the way fish is not a vegetable nor are eggs, cheese, milk and other dairy products. I read enough bad things about meat/fish (pumped up with antibiotics, growth hormones, mercury polluted fish), well-known intolerance of cows milk due to specific proteins in the milk – casein being the main culprit}.

    The rise in western diseases (diabetes, obesity, heart problems, hypertension, Alzheimer, cancer and a host of other ill-health issues) mirror quite well the rise in meat and dairy consumption (I am well-aware that correlation does not necessarily mean cause but Science and mathematics using multi-factor analysis methods have ways to tease out the relevant factors. So go and read the books yourself and then make up your own mind).

    To give up meat,dairy products,supposedly healthy smoothies,fats,smoking,alcohol,salt,sugar and other superfluous vitamin/mineral supplements (B12 is an exception) and eat unrefined plant-based food (vegetables, legumes, beans, grains, fruits etc..) and exercise daily sounds like a tall order… but what price is misinformation/ignorance and years of ill-health or sub-optimal well being? These books do not offer a recipe for immortality or other such quackery but about How Not To Die. But as the saying goes – You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. I, for one, will taste the water!

  7. Beyourself says:

    I been vegetarian for about ten years, but at this time, i can’t sustain myself at this way. I eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, and sometimes dairy products.

    I went to the doctor, and my blood tests are allways good, but i don’t feel good, i have memory problems, and i don’t have energy to do my activities anymore.
    My Gf, eats fish and meat, and she have a great energy, great vibe, and she looks young for her age.

    She tried sometimes to be a vegetarian like me, but she felt sick.

    I supplement with a multi vitamin, with B12, Acid Folic, and other vitamins.
    I’m feeling that i need meat, in order to restore my health, my energy, and my body, because this years, i developed a huge belly, like a pregnant.

    So you did well, and we people should pay attention to our health, and not be influenced by any comment, because it’s our mind and body.


  8. guina says:

    I’m noticing the same thing after being vegan for 5 yrs. my body just wants some fish or small amounts of chicken. I really don’t care to eat meat but my body is not liking all this fructose and grains. I was trying to eat high raw with a lot of fruits and my body is literally screaming for me to stop. I’m starting to just eat less carbs and more salads with salmon. My mind feels better and I can finally think again. I never realized how poor my cognitive function was until I started eating fish again.. So I don’t think everyone can thrive on a vegan diet. I will never follow any extreme diets again. no high carb, fruitarian, raw, or low carb.

    • Carolyne Spackman says:

      I actually went through the same thing. After being vegan for 3-4 years I was getting an autoimmune-based thyroid condition, and then I screened and found I had several nutritional deficiencies that were related to it. I continued being vegan (no gluten during that time btw) for a total of 5-6 years before adding salmon back. However, I really started to feel better a year later when I started eating red grass-fed meat again and uncured/preservative-free liverwurst. My energy soared. Now, red meat is the only thing that helps me get through the winter. Chicken doesn’t do much for me. I’m eating salmon for the fish oil but red meat makes me feel amazing. I am allergic to eggs and dairy, so meat was the only non-plant protein option. I have also noticed that cooking in plant fats causes an inflammatory attack for me. However, high-fat red meat does not. I am starting to take everything I read about health and nutrition with a hugely skeptical grain of salt and just go with my own body’s reactions.

      • Jenni M, respiratory therapist says:

        Yes, yes, and yes! Brilliantly put. I completely agree with your last statement. I too have been extreme and have eaten vegetarian then vegan and my hair is falling out, depression, sluggish. I am not overweight, and bloodwork and physical came back perfect. I am the picture of health by way of “numbers”, but I feel like crap. I’m incorporating red meat again (ferritin was 62, but I was told it needs to be at least 70 to grow hair) and I’ll be starting bone broth tomorrow. I’m hoping to be rejuvenated again. Best of health to you!!!

  9. Ashkan Ghanbarzadeh Dagheyan says:

    Hi :)
    I found none of your reasons convincing, so your changing diet back to being an omnivore remains very surprising to me.
    1)Animals kept in farms have done no harm to us in history. They are in general peaceful and innocent. So how do you compare killing these innocent beings with self-defense when someone else is harming you?
    If had to kill a bear in the nature who wanted to attack you, that would be self-defense and there is nothing ethically wrong with that. But confining harmless animals and killing them for no good reason (we don’t need to eat them [1]), is for sure ethically disputable. No carnivore/omnivore animal in the nature does that; they hunt as they need and they help keeping the population in a balance. That is the circle of life; not creating and raising more than 50 billion animals every year, killing them and making our water, soil and air extremely polluted by their waste and gases. Instead of feeding animals plants and then eating them, you can eat the plants directly. That is for sure a less violent circle of life.
    2) Animals are not the real sources of B-12. Bacteria such as “Propionibacterium freudenreichii” and “Lactobacillus reuteri” make B12 in the bodies of animals and humans. The second bacteria is found in our intestine, but the B12 they make is too far down our digestive system to be absorbed. So, we need to get it from other sources,but instead of getting from animals’ flesh, we can get it directly from those bacteria in the form of pills; you don’t have to get injections. We can also get it from safe natural water sources that have these bacteria in them and sea vegetables such as algae [2].
    3) You don’t need to eat processed vegetarian foods on a vegetarian/vegan diet. You can certainly get everything you want from whole-food natural sources. If you don’t like chemicals, it doesn’t mean you have to start eating meat again. It simply means that you have to eat naturally by consuming beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and fruits; preferably organic if you care a lot.
    4) Free-range is just a label invented by the industry to make us feel better about what we eat. The mortality and some disease rates among free-range chickens is more than caged ones who have miserable lives [3] ,[4]. Grass-fed meat is not a viable idea because simply we don’t have enough land on earth to raise grass-fed animals for meat. More importantly, grass-fed meat is environmentally unsustainable as the animals produce more (up to 60%) green-house gasses when fed grass [5]. There is one report that says otherwise [6], but it has funding bias and design issues. Finally, if you care about not eating chemicals, you should certainly avoid fish since our oceans are hugely contaminated with mercury and plastic [7], [8], [9]. These chemicals in fact get into the bodies of fish, especially the bigger ones, and then humans consume them. It’s so bad that doctors warn pregnant women to not eat fish at least during pregnancy.
    And finally, we are all animals; we have hearts, we breathe, we love, we feel kindness and suffer violence. We are all equal in intrinsic value, but humans probably have more valuable lives due to the many ways of satisfaction they can get. But it doesn’t mean that we have to kill and eat our fellow earthlings. Instead we can choose to be kind to them and sustain that lifestyle.


    • Jason says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I have no problems with the author going back to eating meat, but the reasonings were more of the “I used to think killing is bad. I now know it’s not”. That’s a change in personal opinion, not a fact. There’s a difference.

      There is absolutely no “right” way to eat to be healthy. Compare traditional arctic people’s diets to traditionally vegetarian or vegan (people like the 5000 Himalayan Brokpa tribe). Polar opposites yet both live long and prospered. I’m all for “to each their own”, but at least be objectively truthful about it.

      I also 100% agree that people who complain they just can’t get enough nutrition on a veggie diet are eating like garbage. You can also get veggie “fish” oil, since you are getting it from the algae itself and cutting out the fishy middleman.

    • Christine says:

      Beautifully said. I shudder at the thought on could eat someone who suffered. I can’t speak for health I can’t get past eating for taste. Even if veganism which I doubt proved to be unhealthy I will still never harm a living thing not even an ant if I can avoid it. Never again.

    • animal liberation says:

      You are my hero. Very articulate and well researched. We need more people like you in this world having these conversations with people who need educating and awareness about the agriculture industries across the globe. There is no such thing as ‘humane killing’ and so long as people choose to be ignorant, billions of animals will continue to suffer and be murdered all for the few minutes of consumption of our plates.

      – Thank you, from a fellow vegan who loves their life

  10. Anne Liversidge says:

    Thanks for posting your stories. Similar to the author, I became vegetarian at age 13 and was vegan on and off. This continued for more than 30 years. I started adding fish to my diet about 10 years ago. Finally, my 6th time trying to be vegan I experienced nutritional deficiencies. I decided to add turkey and chicken to my diet and immediately felt better, with less craving for sugar and carbs. I decided in 35-plus years I made a significant contribution to saving and advocating for animals. I also feel “less on the fringes” with my meat-eating friends, with less anger and scorn at them and their diet.

  11. Alice says:

    Seriously this is the most DUMBEST article I have EVER read. NO ONE gets a stroke from a vitamin B13 deficiency..NO ONE. You probably got a stroke from the continued consumption of dairy and eggs and that clogged your arteries. Or, you are just prone to getting a stroke. You get a stroke when there is not enough oxygen/blood going to your brain. That happens when your arteries are clogged, or if you have blood clot…which come from unhealthy eating..Not from a vitamin B12 deficiency.

  12. Markersable says:

    Why didn’t you just take B12 supplements? PLENTY OF people have B12 deficiencies…even on a non-vegetarian/vegan diet.

    • Jamie says:

      So true, only 2% of B12 deficiencies from from restrictive diets (meaning not eating animale products) whereas 50% comes from absorption issues

  13. Amber says:

    Vegetarian here transitioning into a pescatarian! I like many others have started to feel like I need to reintroduce meat (fish for me) back into my life. I actually don’t really like fish at all and I hadn’t eaten it since I was a little kid. I became a vegetarian at the age of 12 and have been one for 14 years. Lately though my body has been craving for fish (I still have no desire to eat chicken, beef or pork) which is odd because I don’t like the way fish tastes. My body was craving protein and nutrients that just wasn’t being satisfied by my lifestyle anymore. I made a tilapia and ate most of my fillet. It wasn’t easy, but I instantly felt better. Fast forward 2 months after my first date with meat in over a decade, I got the craving again. So I ate a tuna sandwich (the only fishy thing I liked as a child) and although it was hard to adjust to the texture and taste I’m warming up to it again. Reading this has been helpful, because I feel guilty eating small amounts of meat again, but I find solice in knowing others are going through the same feelings and cravings as me.

  14. Eric Davis says:

    I just came across this post and have been debating returning to eating meat. My concern is all the stories I’ve heard about stomach troubles after eating meat after being vegetarian. Did you experience this when you started eating meat again?

    • Rhianna says:

      When one is vegetarian or vegan, the body produces less stomach acid because there is less need for it. Once you start eating meat consistently again, the body will step up and make more stomach acid. In the interim, you may supplement with HCl with pepsin. Drinking bone broth will help also. Don’t worry, this is a normal,temporary problem.

    • Jason says:

      That comes from your gut bacteria (flora) being used to digesting a certain type of food. It takes some time for many people’s guts to adjust to secreting the correct enzymes to digest the new foods.

    • Carol Howard says:

      I have been Pescatarian for 16 years due to not liking meat. I have had tummy/bowel problems for about 10 years and am now suffering from a lack of Vit B12. My Dr said it was not diet related but the tablets are not helping and I don’t want to start injections. My main concern about trying to eat meat again was how to reintroduce it, and if i had eouth microbes to digest it.
      Did you start with only small amounts of meat and how often?

  15. Agi says:

    I’m going back on a meat diet as well. I didn’t want to, but I have to. My body doesn’t have healthy bacteria and stopped producing enzymes. I’m highly allergic to soy, beans, peas, and all grains! I lost almost all my hair, although I ate a super healthy vegan/vegetarian diet and supplemented, but… I got to the point I couldn’t lift myself from the bed, and my labs shown sever deficiencies as well as muscle wasting and zero immunity. I developed autoimmune disease that couldn’t be cured with raw food diet or juicing. I cried when I was told to start eating meat, but everyday I was feeling like I’m dying… so I decided to go back on a meat diet.

    • Rhianna says:

      Agi, I hear you. My story was similar to yours. I went back onto meat and now feel much better. I feel better on all levels.

    • Carolyne Spackman says:

      Agi I hear you too! I developed autoimmune thyroid attacks 3-4 years into veganism despite not having any gluten, and I developed severe deficiencies of B-12, D, carnitine, zinc, glutathione, and others. I too cannot eat soy, any grains, or beans or else my autoimmune responses kick in. I also cannot eat dairy for the same reason, and even nuts bother my system somewhat. After 6-7 years of veganism and finding monthly B-12 shots were not enough to overcome my deficiency, I went back to eating red pasture-raised meat and uncured liverwurst (high in B12 and vitamin A), and my energy seemed to immediately improve. I no longer feel shame about giving up veganism, and instead I actually feel annoyed that I had been brainwashed into believing that veganism was healthy, when what it led to was so many deficiencies that worsened my immune system health. I have also noticed my eyesight getting worse since becoming vegan and have wondered if I am one of the 50% of British women who do not effectively convert beta carotene to vitamin A, and if so I have harmed myself from not getting vitamin A from animal sources. The sad thing was that I became a mostly raw vegan for my health (because I had celiac and was trying to restore my body after years of damage on grains and dairy) and I ended up still unhealthy because I deprived my body of meat. I think raw veg and fruits are healthy, but I now eat liver and a variety of other meats, to restore my B-12, carnosine, carnitine, glutathione, etc. I may have to eat more red meat than most people for a while until my body replenishes its stores of so many things it lost. Remember we need not only the meat but also fats to have healthy hormones, neurotransmitters in the brain, and more…

  16. Fkml says:

    You’re sick. People like you make me stop believing in mankind and that we’re actually smarter than this.

  17. Joanne says:

    Chris,I know you probably know this already,but you can get coconut butter which is quite healthy.

  18. Joanne says:

    Hi,I am interested in reading this.I am 44 an have always eaten meat and saw a documentary on an abattoir – “Kill it,cook it,eat it” – many years ago and although it saddened me at the time,the way the animals were treated looked well so didn’t put me off long term.I had toyed with the idea of going vegetarian but always thought I couldn’t as I loved meat so much,but still felt I had to cut out those processed meats.Well,I watched a video a few months ago of an abattoir and it horrified me,although it was mainly in the US. I decided I had to go vegetarian.I went one week without meat a few months ago and then cut down to eating meat just twice a week,but craved it and had some the week later.The thing is,it didn’t taste as good as I remembered.I think the problem here is mostly the way that the animals are reared and treated and factory farming is disgusting and inhumane.I have decided rather than going completely vegetarian,I am going to eat meat just once a week and it will be no read meat and only free range,organic. I got some beef burgers from a local farmers market last week and once I have them I will just eat chicken once a week .I am being realistic about it and better than to cut it out altogether and then splurge out on it.I know killing an animal is the same if it is a pig or a sheep,but I couldn’t eat lamb,veal or pork as I especially love all of these animals.Crazy,I know.

    • Caroline says:

      I watched that programme, a couple of men gently pushing the goat kids along to where they would be slaughtered nothing like slaughter house at all. I did think when I watched it would the people taking part still have the same views if they went to an actual slaughter house or even watched beginning to the end with the sound on of slaughterhouses that have been exposed. Not saying this to badmouth anyone who eats meat, each to their own but that programme gave a false image of what the animals really go through, pain and fear which obviously you recognised and I totally agree with you, the factory farming is absolutely horrific and inhumane. I have enjoyed reading what you have written and the fact you are being honest about what you eat. If people must eat meat then free range is the way to go and a few days meat free is better than eating it every day.

  19. Emma Bennett says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. I like you made the change to a vegetarian lifestyle a long time ago (33 years), aged 12. However, about 5 years ago my dairy intolerance hit an all time high.  Now eating out is a mine-field.  I have been thinking about making small changes and eating a little chicken now and again.  Makes me feel like I’ve failed – although I’m not sure what exactly.

  20. Thank you so much for this article. I’m currently a pescatarian. I started off as a vegetarian then my body was craving fish, which I was never fond of, so I listened to it and physically felt better and morally found a way to accept it. Lately, idk what it is, but I’ve been craving chicken and turkey(I have never liked pork/beef and don’t see myself ever eating those again) and I’ve been struggling so hard if I should eat it or not. My best friends are also vegetarians and they said they never crave meat. Typically, when this happens, I’ll make something like lentil/black bean tacos or pulled jackfruit or even buy fake meat(very rare) just to have these cravings subside, and that typically does the trick. But lately, the cravings are so strong. I think just like I listened to my body when I wanted fish, I should do the same here. Like you said, it will be in moderation. Morally, is what’s causing all the conflict. Also like you said, I will be sourcing it from sustainable, humane, local farms, if possible. Thanks again for your insight and for making me feel less guilty.

  21. Michelle says:

    I agree with all of this. Animals do not think about death but they do know suffering, pain, and sadness. Vegetarians and vegans need to promote the healthy ethical treatment and raising of animals as farm animals I staed of going to a farmer and telling them their livelihood should not exist. I hate the idea of eating meat again but I haven’t felt the same since cutting out chicken and fish this last year. My dad is a fisherman in Alaska. He catches the salmon quick and kills them quickly and has sent me a few fillet. I do not feel this is the same as tortureing a cow or pig for years before skinning them alive and ripping out their organs. Did an animal die? Yes. But that animal did not think about it nor suffer unnecessarily. 

  22. Keith says:

    Vitamin B12 is in yeast extract Marmite.

    • Rhianna says:

      The Marmite label does not specify which form of B12/Cobalmin. This is important because those with MTHFR genetic variations, about 1/3 of humans, have trouble utilizing cyanocobalmin, which is an artificial form of B12. There are many other bio-active forms of B12, but cyanocobalmin is not one of them. Therefore, yeast extract is not necessarily a dependable form of B12 for many people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *