However, there was no pivotal event that 'turned me', it was more a collection of good reasons that finally culminated in a resolve to eradicate meat from my diet:
- I wanted to be healthier - that isn't to say that I believe meat to be unhealthy, I simply found that the identity of being a non-meat-eater drove me to make healthier choices. A simple example is how easily I can turn down sweets that contain gelatin (and haribo used to be my addiction). Telling myself "not for me, I'm a veggie" has meant that I have never had to use will-power to resist.
- I wanted to save money - I was a student and a meat-free diet seemed a great way to save money. Even though I am now happy to spend more than most do on veggies, it seems a fair price to pay for the healthfulness I have discovered through eating more of the green (and orange, and red...) stuff.
- I wanted to get better at cooking - cutting meat out offered an amazing opportunity to expand my repertoire beyond bolognese. The more I explored recipe books and website for recipes and inspiration, the more excited I was to try!
- To be greener - being an ethical consumer had been at the back of my mind for a long time as I used to work for a cosmetics company that prided itself on defending animal rights and sustainable use of resources. Vegeterianism, if done appropriately, is the more sustainable and ethical option given the considerable impact of the meat industry.
The next question is inevitabley 'the protein question' or 'the so-what-do-you-eat? question'. I get sufficient protein, thank you very much, and I have only become stronger and fitter since I 'turned'. And I eat all kinds of soups, curries, stews, salads, open sandwiches/pittas etc. It just takes a little imagination, that's all, and when you think about it, all dishes are meat-free until the meat is added. I stick to staple smoothies, lunches and snacks, but in the evening I get creative! Here is tonight's meat-free experiment:
Kale and Aubergine Dal (for one)
1 tsp coconut oil (or whatever oil you normally use!)
Half a medium onion, sliced
Half a large aubergine, cubed
Half a tbsp medium curry powder (or use your favourite spices)
Tomato and red pepper sauce (half the quantity in yesterday's recipe) - or half a tin of tomatoes
50g dried red lentils, rinsed well
75g (2 good handfuls) kale, chopped
- Soften the onions in the oil on a medium heat and then add the aubergine. Cook both together for 5 or 10 minutes until well softened.
- Add the spices, cook for about a minute, then add the sauce/tomatoes
- Stir in the lentils then add water (enough to cover the mixture well)
- Allow the lentils to cook through, about 20-25 minutes, and stir regularly and add more water if needed.
- Before serving, tip in the kale and allow it to steam through, mixing it into the dal.
- Season (if you're into that kind of thing) and serve.
P.S. Some resources on 'turning' if you're interested...
49 Good Reason For Being a Vegetarian