I grew up eating meat all the time. Every day I would wake up to some sort of processed meat for breakfast. I can only count the days when I had vegetables while growing up. Everybody at home loved pork. Bacon was a staple like rice.
My first attempt at a plant-based diet was in college because I felt sorry for the butchered animals. The experience was more like fasting than a diet change. I didn't have any plans, there were not much vegetables in the kitchen, and I had no idea what I was doing. After a few days, I started getting headaches and became weaker (Uhm, who wouldn't?). So I ended it after a week.
My second attempt was when we had to put Gonzo (our senior dog) to sleep. I was devastated and heartbroken because he seemed physically healthy to be put down.
I was sitting at a restaurant with the memory of our sweet, fluffy Gonzo laying there lifeless on the veterinarian’s table in Jude’s arms.
I was staring at my Ramen with that piece of Pork Chashu floating on top of it, and I said to Jude. How is it so terribly painful to kill your senile dog who bit you? Yet, consuming an innocent pig or cow is like nothing? They were harmless. They didn’t do anything to anyone. That thought pushed me to become a vegetarian with Jude. But it only lasted a year.
Work had caught up with us. Vegetarian options during late nights and on-location shoot meals were a hassle (but not impossible now I think of it). We were so stressed and so consumed with that fast-paced life. Eventually our work and life balance became tilted. Our life became our work. I had no time to cook anymore. And thinking about what to eat was exhausting, so we slowly went back to eating meat again.
Fast forward to Jan 2020, my third time. After a very stressful and draining city to city photo shoot, I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection. I had severe coughs and post-nasal drips that lasted for a month. Sleeping was impossible because the attacks would come at night wee into the morning. I underwent a few diagnostic procedures. And thank goodness it wasn’t Covid! But I was given 8 different medications, including large tablets of antibiotics, which I had to take for 7 days. I was getting better, the medicines were working. I avoided all food allergens and only ate pork or beef. But, when my medications ended, the allergies came back. I did not want to retake any type of medicine, so I gave plant-based diet a go again. It took only three days, my cough was gone. And that’s when I decided to do this for good. Jude was extremely happy because he always wanted to go back to being a vegetarian.
A few weeks after, the quarantine happened. Which helped us stay on track with our diet even more. We thought this be would enough time for us to get used to this again. I tried to look for meatless recipes online, even stumbled upon meat alternatives. While Jude joined online communities to get more information about the plant-based diet. We exercise regularly, and we did more research on how to have a well-balanced meal to get the necessary nutrition. We've been learning, not only about the ingredients but also, sourcing plant-based products.
When we plan our meals, we always start with a familiar taste. Filipino dishes like Pochero, Tofu Sisig, Bola-bola, and Lumpia, to name a few.
Plus, we live in a country that has an abundant variety of produce. We also make use of the internet for recipes if we ever feel fancy. Instagram is a good source for finding plant-based recipes too.
We can certainly say that we feel better being on a plant-based diet. But there are times when we aren’t up to it a 100%. Like making ready mix pancakes which already has milk but we substitute the eggs.
For a former carnivore like me, this is a milestone. Our journey has just begun, yet we want to share our story to inspire everyone. By merely minimizing meat consumption, turns out it can make such a difference not only for your health but for the environment as well. Should plant-based be the only diet for proper nutrition? I can't say. But, to be a better citizen of this planet is to make better choices. ✳︎