Or ‘Manuary’….doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Veganaury but alas I couldn’t quite bring myself to give up both chicken and cheese in one month, that proved a step too far!
Way back in January this year I went vegetarian, catalyzed by what I liked to call an environmental wake up call that I had over Christmas 2016/17 (which will be further explained in future posts all about living a sustainable lifestyle).
Fundamentally (and perhaps controversially to most vegetarians or vegans) I am ok with killing animals for food. What I’m against is the unethical treatment and killing of animals, which unfortunately is an inevitable by-product of our mass meat consumption and the meat industry. Once I started doing some research I realised how disconnected I had become to the food on my plate. Obviously I know where meat comes from, but I hadn’t stopped to think about how. Mass factory reared animals, bred purely to be killed and consumed I realised I couldn’t quite get my head around. Causing animals pain and suffering, treating them as purely a means to an end didn’t seem worth it for me to enjoy a chicken burger. So at the start of this year, once I had done some research and realized the truth behind how my Sunday roast got to my table I decided to do something about it. This is without mentioning the huge environmental impact meat consumption has (more about this in another post). I decided it was important for me to put my money where my mouth was and consume in line with my views.
During the month I made a note of things I found interesting or realised whilst going vegetarian;
- Vegetarian chicken nuggets are the BEST. After eating then post-pub trip, I declared them as good as Roosters (our local cheap and cheerful chicken take-away). I bought Quorn ones for £1.50 from Sainsburies (southern fried in particular are amazing), they’re great in wraps and salads.
- Veggie sausage roles (£1.99 from Aldi)… are almost as good as Greggs, which for anyone that knows me is high praise indeed.
- Veggie mince. Now this opinion is nothing new, I’ve actually been eating this for the past 7 years due to family health issues that prompted a switch . However I still stand by it, in a chilli or bolognese with a good recipe it tastes just as good, I can’t tell the difference anymore!
- I realised not all vegan recipes involve kale or quinoa. Revolutionary I know. But I found a whole host of recipes with no soy or almond milk in sight. In fact I posted a Vegan Brownie recipe on this blog here, so good you wouldn’t remotely tell they’re vegan, perfect for lactose intolerance as well!
- The veggie aisle is much more extensive and much less expensive than anticipated. I actually found it a joy to shop down this aisle, finding out what alternatives have been produced, you can find an alternative for almost everything. They also won’t, unlike common myths, break the bank, which for a student living on a budget is very good news!
- You get constantly questioned for eating differently. If I had £1 for everytime someone remarked “I could never give up bacon” I’d be well on the way to paying off my student debt (shock horror I don’t actually like bacon, so it’s an easy sacrifice to make!). I was told countless times this was a faze (7 months later still going strong) and just generally made to feel uncomfortable for making the decision to eat a little differently to most of the population.
- Some surprising things aren’t Vegetarian, parmesan for example contents rennet which is actually the lining of a calf’s stomach (you can avoid this if you buy a block of it and grate it yourself instead of buying pots of it). However things like bacon frazzle’s, and chicken+sweetcorn pot noodles…totally veggie friendly!
And so my final conclusion is that being Vegetarian doesn’t have to mean missing out. It might mean as a student swapping late night chicken take-aways for a pizza…but really that’s a win win situation. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it just includes some small swaps here and then, and sometimes a slightly longer walk to Sainsburies not my local Aldi. After my month meat free, I intend to continue eating like this, however allowing the occasional curry take away or non-veggie dinner out. I will also never turn down a chicken roast dinner!
*Posting this 6 or so months later I can confirm I am still eating and consuming this way, and enjoying it. The definition I give myself, if pushed, is Flexitarian “someone who eats a predominately but not strictly vegetarian diet”. Read more about the rise of the flexitarian diet in an article by the Independent here.
Could you relinquish your bacon butties and give up meat for a month?