I have consumed meat for just under twenty years. But it was during the summer of 2015 when I decided to go vegetarian. Since then, I have never looked back and over a year later I am still thriving on a life without the bloodshed of meat.
To be honest, over the years I had heard and met people whom also did not eat meat or consume food made with body parts of animals, but I had never really thought a great deal about it. After watching some disturbingly true and eye-opening documentaries it got me thinking. Going on a diet that was plant and dairy based. But what would I eat, rabbit food?!
As it turns out, you end up exploring alternative food arrangements very quickly. Whether it be just substituting the meat for a bean burger, or making a completely different dish altogether and inventing new recipes, it really helps you become more creative and open-minded in the kitchen. As I live on my own, I am responsible for cooking my meals myself (Boo). So by eliminating the opportunity of buying a chicken sandwich from Sainsbury’s for lunch during university, it forced me to actually make an effort to look more closely and to take care of the way I eat. I was actually vegan for four months as well, but soon had to return to my dairy products. This was after realising that the drastic change to my diet restrictions in such a short time period ment that I couldn’t cope with the change (vegan means eat no food that is derived from an animal eg. eggs, honey, milk). Maybe someday I pick it up again and be able to stick to it! I also got some heavy critisism for doing this from family and friends, but it didn’t stop me (my family in Turkey thought I was trying to kill myself- they had never heard or vegetarian or vegan before).
By becoming vegetarian, I have experienced first-hand the struggles that you encounter when it comes to eating out. So for a start; no fast food like McDonald’s, Chip shops, etc. As most of the foods are cooked in the same fryer/cooker, it means that the majority of the food has come into contact with meat. But then again it all depends on how serious and critical you are about it- asking restaurant staff if the same utensils have been used and so on. Oh and jelly sweets are a no go as they usually contain beef or pork gelatine, ewe, maybe think twice before devouring the Haribos when they contain pig feet. Also, cheese becomes a big part of your diet I have noticed. Many places will substitute whatever they were offering with cheese. And although I love cheese as much as Wallace, there is only so much you can stomach without gaining a few extra pounds.
HOWEVER, it doesn’t have to be all sad and gloomy- you don’t have to get just the plain margarita pizza. Sweet potatoes are another favourite to use as well as, bean chillies, aubergine salads, garlic yogurt, falafel, veggie pasta bakes. I most can agree a the fact humus becomes your best friend- a chickpea based paste that you cannot live without. Nothing excites you more than when you’re reading through a menu and find something that sounds delicious and it has that little green “V” beside it, YES, I’ll take that please.
All in all, I have ended up feeling more positive and healthier towards my outlook on food. I’m not saying that you’ll lose weight or become super fit by becoming a vegetarian as other factors of your lifestyle obviously need to be taken into consideration, but at least you’ll be on the right path.
The vegetarian diet is extremely beneficial to the environment- cutting CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to read more on how processing meat impacts our environment, you can refer to the Fight Climate Change website.
I have found that the best places for veggie food are: Marks and Spencer’s as they have a large range of snacks and sandwiches/ salads and Waitrose as they also have a large Vegan/Soy range. Also makes such as Quorn, Linda McCarthy and even shop brand vegetarian meals and foods are available.