Richard Fox: Goodbye 'beer chef'!

Richard Fox | February 2019 | 8 minutes

Richard Fox, plant-based chef, broadcaster and author, shares his thoughts on alcohol and giving it up for good.

If you had told me at the beginning of last year I would be writing about giving up booze, I would have suggested there would be more chance of me documenting my maiden space voyage. For a start, socially and professionally, my life was a smorgasbord of delightful drinking occasions - good people even paid me to talk about beer - and taste it of course. I got to sit on stages and just chew the fat on the subject; celebrate its varied styles, innate complexity, its subtle flavours, origins and all the positive stuff that beer can contribute to quality of life. I even occasionally got paid to write about it.

But beneath the joie de vivre and that benign, pillowy head of malty goodness lurked something that, for me, was a little more insidious. I was drinking 40 units a week – well above the recommended 14 or fewer. I knew that this couldn't go on forever without some serious repercussions at some point. life was a smorgasbord of delightful drinking occasions...

But, of course, intellectually knowing the right thing to do is a million miles away from the action of actually initiating it. For a start, there's that delightful smorgasbord I mentioned, let alone the perceived social stigma of uttering those words - "Actually, I don't drink" – words, I hasten to add, that I now delight in saying. There's the understandable, but unfounded fear of being regarded suspiciously, or worse - a social pariah.

My situation was compounded by the fact that a significant proportion of my work was based on my being a beer 'expert'. Granted, I had significantly pulled back from the frontline of beer-based work in recent years, but the history was indelibly emblazoned on my search engine persona like a face tattoo: 'the beer chef'!

One of the biggest barriers to stopping drinking is the ubiquitous nature alcohol in our lives. Such is the persuasive power of alcohol that we cannot imagine our lives without it.

But you can live without it. In fact, I believe that without the booze you will simply be a better version of the person you are with it. When you stop drinking you will not be rejected by your friends - and I mean friends, not 'let-the-good-times-roll' acquaintances. You will be admired by those that matter and care for you for your strength of character and positive approach to life. Your social life will not go down the pan or become something to be endured rather than enjoyed. You will know what it's like to feel true liberation.

...the dry bank is within arm’s reach, so just grab onto something solid and reliable and haul your ass out.

So, if you’d like to try life dry the first thing to do is banish all fears and thoughts of social or professional Armageddon and focus on the one basic task of getting onto that dry bank from the river of booze. One task. One focus. The good news is, the dry bank is within arm’s reach, so just grab onto something solid and reliable and haul your ass out.

Now you can start to think about trying the fabulous array of zero alcohol beers that I can assure you are a long way from the unpalatable days of Kaliber. Or you could try amazing no-alcohol craft gins, or even alcohol-free wine. Now you can celebrate the ditching of the Rennie and the Ibuprofen, the lowering of your blood pressure and the unadulterated joy of a clear morning head every single day. Now you can seriously start achieving pretty much anything you put your mind to.

If you would like to read more from Richard, you can visit his blog.

If you would like to cut down or cut out alcohol you might need more help to do so. Check up on how healthy your drinking is here, and find out about the help available here.