The question I get asked most on social media is ‘which diet do you follow?’. Unfortunately there isn’t a single word which defines the way I eat. Vegan isn’t strictly accurate as I eat eggs and honey. Paleo is mostly true but I do very occasionally allow myself bread. And eating ‘mindfully’ is a term so ridiculous I wouldn’t be able to say it with a straight face. So, without a lengthy explanation, how do I explain the free choice I make about what I eat?
I don’t believe we have the right to judge what other people eat or the diet they follow. We simply have an obligation to do what we think is right for our own body and mind. Right nutritionally and right ethically.
The problem, it seems, is that we’re obsessed with pigeonholing and we like simple answers. When it comes to sharing diet advice, it obviously makes it much easier to be able to follow a very particular set of rules: don’t eat dairy, avoid wheat, cut out sugar. The trouble is, real life isn’t always quite that simple. Strict vegans would probably get very upset at me considering myself ‘vegan-ish’, as if I’m somehow not committing to the cause. But for me it isn’t about adhering to a set of rules, it’s about doing what’s right, taking into account my own health and ethical considerations.
Eggs are something I do eat. They make Paleo baking so much easier and I have to admit I’d struggle without my weekend pancakes or omelette. The one thing I’ve always insisted upon is buying free-range. I would never buy cheap supermarket eggs, as the conditions those battery hens endure do not sit comfortably with me. For years I’ve assumed that free-range means just that, happy little chickens wandering freely around a bright green pasture, enjoying sunshine, nature, and wholesome food. I was genuinely shocked this week when a friend shared this link on Facebook.
I’ve often bought ‘Happy Egg Company’ eggs. Their television advert feeds the belief of free-range hens happily exploring vegetation in the sunshine. But the video in the link paints a very different picture. The footage shows cramped conditions with hundreds of bald and bedraggled birds. Their outdoor space looks more like a mud pit than a lush green pasture. One shed was infested with red mite which can cause stress, anaemia, and even death. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t that! I tweeted the Happy Egg Company to express my sadness. They replied stating “… this footage was filmed more than five years ago and thankfully was an isolated incident.”. That may or may not be the case, nevertheless those images stuck with me and were enough to put me off shop-bought free range eggs for good. I now make a point of driving past a local farm, dropping £1 into an honesty box and collecting my little box of feather- and mud-covered eggs. Laid by hens I can actually see, wandering around a field in front of my eyes.
I don’t believe we have the right to judge what other people eat or the diet they follow. We simply have an obligation to do what we think is right for our own body and mind. Right nutritionally and right ethically. We often cite cost and time as reasons for buying everything from the big supermarkets. After all, with online shopping available 24/7, what could be easier than pressing a button and having the weekly shop delivered direct to your door? But I firmly believe that where we choose to spend our money makes a statement about the world we’d like to live in. Taking the time to shop at weekend markets or independent butchers will strengthen local business. Buying more organic fruit and veg will eventually lower costs and encourage shops to stock a wider range. Ultimately it’s about shopping and eating consciously… but that’s just another cringe worthy label I’m reluctant to use!
What drives your shopping habits? How do you choose what to eat and what to leave on the shelf? What do you say when people ask what you eat? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!