Sadie Frost opens up about how vegetarianism changed her life
Words by PETA ambassador Sadie Frost
When I was a small child and adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always beamed and said, ‘A vegetarian’. And that’s exactly what I became.
Despite growing up with parents who lived on meals of meat and two veg, eating animals never made sense to me. Right from the beginning, I knew that a butchers was filled with dead animals, and I would have to cross the street and hold my nose. I grew up surrounded by dogs and cats and couldn’t understand why we protected these animals, played with them, encouraged them to sleep in our beds, and called them ‘pets’ while labelling other equally interesting, cuddly, and sentient animals ‘dinner’. I pestered and prodded the adults in my life for an answer but never did get one that satisfied me.
And while some look at animals and see only how different they are from humans, I look at them and see just how similar they are. Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, and other animals might walk on four legs or have wings – and they might not always be able to communicate with us in a way which we understand – but like us, they’re individuals with feelings, thoughts, and unique personalities who form friendships and raise families when given the chance. Just like us, they’re capable of experiencing a wide variety of emotions, including fear and despair. And just like us, they have the desire to live – meaning that none of them walk into the abattoir willingly.
Animal behaviourists consider pigs to be highly intelligent, and people who’ve spent time with them have discovered that they enjoy listening to music, playing with footballs, and being massaged. (I can relate!) Yet, by the time you finish reading this article, thousands of these smart animals – who are every bit as sensitive as the dogs and cats we share our homes with – will have been killed just to be put in a sandwich. For many of them, the first time they feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air is when they’re loaded onto a lorry bound for slaughter. I’m not comfortable contributing to all that suffering – and I’m not the only one.
Today, vegetarianism is more popular than ever, as 12 per cent of adults in the UK leave animals off their plates. The number of 16- to 24-year-olds who say they are vegetarian or vegan is even higher: 20 per cent and growing. And it’s easy to understand why.
Studies show that, in addition to sparing animals’ lives, vegetarians live longer on average than meat-eaters do – because they’re less prone to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and other health problems. Of course, plant-based meals are also wonderfully delicious and colourful, loaded with all the vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients our bodies need. And whereas some of my meat-eating friends complain about feeling sluggish or even bloated after a meal, I’m usually ready to hit the gym or yoga mat soon after lunch.
Being vegetarian, I also feel proud to be doing my part to help protect our planet – for my children and generations to come. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that a staggering 51 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are the result of “livestock and their byproducts”. And because raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water, it’s no wonder that the United Nations has concluded that a global shift to a meat-free diet is vital to alleviating the worst effects of climate change.
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As the reasons for ditching meat continue to pile up, restaurants, cafés, and supermarkets are falling all over themselves to cater to the growing number of people who want to eat plant-based meals. So why not try great-tasting veggie foods? Try it for animals, the planet, or your health – whatever your reason, just try it.