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A Butcher’s Vegan Journey
How It All Started
It was by chance that I got into the meat business. I remember my dad had me called to the entrance of our local Ice hockey arena, over the tannoy. I don’t remember if I was actually skating or just watching my team playing. My father had made arrangements with a friend of his, who was the owner of a high street butcher shop in my home town of Aalborg, to go and have a talk with him the next morning about a job.
This took place in the autumn of 1979 and I’d already dropped out of the Gymnasium after only a couple of months. As the Principal put it, – ” I don’t think we can possibly teach you more Stenny”! I sort of agreed with him but had no clue of what else to do with my time.
I worked with my father for a few weeks, as an auto mechanic, but we both knew that was never going to work. I had loved being in his garage my whole childhood but now it was different, it was about my future.
My parents always backed me up in whatever decision I made growing up and so too in this instance. Dropping out of school was not a problem as long as I was happy with what I was doing, seemed to be the going opinion.
I am forever grateful to my parents, for never pushing me into something where I wasn’t thriving, like a study ending up with a degree I never wanted in the first place. Instead they supported me and believed in me making my own decisions.
Becoming a butcher turned out to be the answer to my future.
Being in the food business has brought me a fantastic life and I think I have tried almost everything in the corporate world, stretching over almost 20 years.
I will make a post later on, describing what it was for me, working in this business for two decades, starting as an apprentice at the local butcher and finishing as a Chief Buyer with a 1 Billion Danish Kroner budget.
Fast forward now, almost 40 years from the start of the journey, and I’m seeing everything in a different light.
The worlds population has grown from 4.38bn people in 1979 to 7.8bn people in 2020. We need more and more food and we produce more and more of everything. We are told to buy electrical cars because its better for the environment and in the big cities around the world, they make Congestion Zones where you pay plenty money to drive your car into. It is no longer allowed to smoke in Bars, Restaurants, on Planes, on Trains and in cars if you’re traveling with minors and a lot of bills are being pushed forward for the benefit of our health. We are evolving.
It is now so easy for an increasing number of people in the world to gain knowledge, to learn and get informed about the environment, so we have no longer the excuse “I didn’t know”.
It is now we need to break bad habits and think about a sustainable future, – we are in the eleventh hour and time is running out fast.
All the evidence and facts are accessible for most people, it’s just a question of when we act and change our way of living.
If the butcher can do it, anyone can do it.
I made my decision while Asha was at work on the 23rd of January 2020. I personally think that big decisions should be made alone, without interference from your partner. Haha.
When she came home after her late shift, I told her we were now vegans! She clapped her hands and said “Okay!” while looking at all the food I had emptied out of cupboards and drawers. While I was excited about her reaction, I never doubted her willingness and enthusiasm towards going plant based.
It was never my intention to dispose of all the food but instead distribute to neighbours and friends.
Asha had been watching TV before she went to work at 4pm and encouraged me to watch “The Game Changers” while she was away. We had seen “Cowspiracy” together in the past and we’ve always wanted to know more about what we eat and drink. “Everything in moderation” has been our motto for several years and we have also, for extended periods of time, lived completely without eating meat and only eaten fish occasionally and always dairy products.
I sat down and had my dinner while watching “The Game Changers” and as soon as it was over, I got up and started our new life. I could feel that this was different and suddenly “everything in moderation” just sounded hollow in my ears. This change would be bigger than anything I had changed in my life and the feeling, of suddenly finding the missing pieces of the puzzle, was overwhelming.
We kept finding food in our cupboards, fridges, and freezers, which contained dairy products and animal products in the weeks after the big decision and so our bottles of Baileys had to find new owners, much to our neighbours’ delight!
A lot of people have asked if the transition has been difficult, and we can only answer no.
It became a habit very swiftly, to study the labels on the food we were putting in our shopping cart and by doing so, we also kept track of how much fat and sugar and artificial additives there were in the products. It should not, but it was a giant eye opener and honestly disturbing for us, that we had been oblivious to the fact, for way too long.
I will later describe what the transition has meant for our health, including how much energy we have gained and how our night’s sleep has improved.