• Jessica Wasteney

The Vegetarian Conundrum

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

Meat tastes great!

It can be so damn delicious. I recall the mouthwatering tenderness of medium rare, ribeye steaks with a glass of full bodied Shiraz as some of the most pleasurable moments in life. Oh the memories...

Now, I no longer eat meat. At the age of 9 I became vegetarian. And no, I wasn't getter served up big plates of steaks and vino as a kiddy before I called it quits. The truth is I have found being vegetarian a tough journey and have only recently found a flexitarianism diet that works for me.

As a child, I loved animals. Probably nothing out of the ordinary there. I had hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits, each of which I cared about, possibly, a little too obsessively. I dreamt of becoming a vet, but hey, what kid doesn't?

I’d often participate in sponsored walks and days of silence to raise money for animal charities (or maybe it was my mum’s ploy to keep me quiet for a day?).

The change happened at the age of 9 when I watched a documentary. Being at a highly influential age, it made me decide to stop eating meat altogether. The doco was about the cruelty to livestock before it gets to your plate. It was something I hadn’t previously thought too much about. We always got our meat from the supermarket shelf, pre-packed and totally unrelatable to the farmyard animals that I adored. That very same day I told my mum I wanted to become vegetarian. My Mum supported my choice, so from that day there was no more meat for me ... or so I thought.

There was a slight problem though. Being a kid, I didn’t really know what a vego was. Just cut out the meat to save the animals, right? So that’s what I did. The meat was gone and quite often replaced with unhealthy choices like chips and chocolate. It was the 90’s and there wasn’t too much choice out there and I was clueless back then when it came to nutrition.

Bringing home the turkey.

When I was 13 years old I was living in Canada with my Dad and still avoiding eating meat. I was a lanky and pale kid who loved to be active. We had two dogs and lived in the Rocky Mountains, with animals everywhere! Deer, bears, wild cats and even the odd skunks, I was in my element!

The day is still so vivid in my mind, I can recall it very clearly. It was Thanksgiving Day and my dad had cooked a turkey roast. The smell of the golden bird was tantalizing and I could feel my saliva glands gushing as I imagined putting a piece of its white juicy flesh into my mouth. Just one small piece, I thought, just to taste...

That was it, the vegetarian game was over, after almost 5 years with no meat, the turkey was soon followed by the chicken curry, the beef burgers and the shephard's pie. Like a vampire getting a taste of blood, I could not get enough of the stuff.

Upon reintroducing meat again, unexpected things happened to me. My pale skin suddenly started to look brighter, I had colour in my cheeks for the first time in years, my energy increased and my mood lifted. I had not realised that my vegetarianism had left me dangerously low in iron and vitamin B12. In addition, I definitely had not been getting enough protein in my diet. No wonder I was so pale and lanky looking!

Time ticked by and meat, plus my passion for nutrition became big parts of my life. I felt better with the nutrients meat gave my body.

But something didn’t feel right. For me eating meat did not align with my personal values against animal cruelty and in favour of sustainability. I felt a sense of guilt every time I put the meaty fork to my mouth and felt torn with my choices. So in my early 30s I decided to become a vegetarian again. And this time, I supplemented my nutrients with pills from a jar, which was not ideal.

Then my life changed again over a year ago when I discovered edible insects. Yep, as in bugs! By now you may be thinking - WTF? Please, let me explain.

It all started with listening to a podcast which stressed the concern of the population of the planet increasing to 9 billion in 2050. Considering that we are currently at only 7.53 billion those numbers represent a shockingly high rate of increase. That’s a lot of mouths to feed!

At the moment one-third of the worlds land is occupied for livestock and animal feed and this will only increase as population grows, unless we take action and do something about it. Clearly, under the current circumstances we cannot keep going as we are.

With deforestation, droughts and Co2 production on the increase, insects offer a solution to this devastation. There are an abundance of insects already in the world. Taking up little land for agriculture, bugs use 2000 times less water than beef and produce a very small fraction of the greenhouse gasses compared to our current burping cows.

Insects can reduced environmental impact and offer a means of protecting our world.

Eating bugs was a revolutionary epiphany for me. Not only did they give me the essential nutrients my body so heavily craved (crickets contain twice the amount of protein as beef, contain more iron than spinach and more vitamin B12 than salmon) but I could also contribute to a lower environmental impact while doing so.

Okay, so it wasn’t the easiest thing putting a bug into my mouth for the first time. I hesitated with the first bite, wondering, could I do it? Was it worth it? Given all the benefits I’ve mentioned, I decided to take the leap and to introduce insects to my meals. To my surprise, I found it a lot easier to pop a bug, than the pills I had previously been ingesting.

Crickets allow me to get a healthy dose of vitamin B12, iron and calcium that I would otherwise lack from not eating meat. They also give me all the essential amino acids my body needs. My flexitarian, or 'entovegetarian’ diet is a perfect solution to my challenge of eating well and fulfilling my desire to be environmentally responsible.

Given that I’m so incredibly passionate about this movement and the improvements it has made to my life, I felt that I could contribute more. I realised I could share my passion and help others who suffer the same problems I had of not getting enough natural nutrients and protein into their daily lives. And as added bonus, we would be leaving a smaller ecological footprint along the way.

Leap Protein was born as my way to help others. Blended with cricket powder these healthy protein bars are highly nutritious snacks and are a great way to give your body a boost of energy, aid recovery, improve mood and wellbeing and they even contain prebiotics for a healthy gut. I have carefully selected natural, organic ingredients to make the most delicious gluten free and dairy free bars around. The vitamins in these bars come naturally from the crickets and other ingredients. They contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs and are bioavailable, which basically means that your body can recognise and utilise them easily.

Leap Cricket Protein Bars and Powders are a super food that is not only kind on the environment and full of nutrients but they taste pretty damn great with a glass of Shiraz too!

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