My #FIRST40DAYS — as a Vegetarian
I decided to make the move over to vegetarianism after watching a documentary on Netflix called “Cowspiracy”
Friends of mine; including one who made a name for himself online a few years ago by eating all manner of exotic meats, (some of which were freshly peeled from the side of the road) had equated this film with being the catalyst that prompted them to become VEGAN, and so I thought I would watch it; not for any great concern for the subject matter or particular desire to be “turned” vegan, but to see what could manage such a feat.
The Documentary itself was fascinating. Without being preachy, it made it’s points very clearly, and I was stunned by some of the figures being given as evidence of the impact animal husbandry is having on the environment.
I could see why my planet loving friend would take this as a call to action, and become Vegan.
For a small moment, my own head was turned. I had become aware of a few vegan friends and been introduced to their colourful, flavourful food which was far and away from what I expected vegan cuisine to be.
In fact, you can see my first Vegan meal experience here on my Youtube Channel.
I know myself too well to believe I could jump straight into Veganism, but in the same vein, I could never dismiss it as a real possibility either.
I decided that, when I look at my eating habits over the past year I have been naturally making a lot more “vegetarian-esque” meal choices (possibly kick started by a brief encounter with Slimming World) and so saw the transition to fully vegetarian as possibly achievable.
They say it takes between 30 and 60 days for a new ‘habit’ to be created and stick in our routines, so I decided to aim for 40 days, and take stock at that point.
Here, is what I learned in my #first40days of vegetarianism.
1: It’s possible to be lazy, but not for the long term.
I found it very easy to find ‘convenient’ vegetarian options, especially in the ASDA frozen ‘Crispbakes’ — breadcrumb coated vegetables, mixed with cheese and or spices. Throw them in the oven, with some chips. DONE. Vegetarianism here I come.
They will do in a pinch, but a lifestyle choice they are NOT. A girl cannot live on breadcrumbs alone! She will get fat (Or in my case fatter)
The best way to eat is to cook fresh, but if you are lazy like me, it can seem a faff. The answer in my opinion is not to beat yourself up about it. When you feel like cooking, cook, when you don’t, grab what’s easiest. Nobody wins if you give up because it feels like a chore. Keep it easy and fun and I believe you will succeed.
2: Although I wasn’t aiming to lose weight, I do FEEL better.
I forgot to weigh myself before I embarked on this journey of discovery, but that is because I truly wasn’t doing this as a way to lose weight. I find trying to motivate yourself purely from a place of vanity rarely works. I lost 4 stone using Slimming World a few years ago, and as motivated as I was at the time, it soon fell by the wayside when the results were slower moving and the habits became hard to maintain. I have since gained most of the weight back. However, without knowing if I have or haven’t lost anything since eating vegetarian, I can testify to FEELING better. I just feel healthier in myself. I didn’t have a particularly bad diet beforehand, it wasn’t pizza every night, in fact I have eaten more pizza in the last 40 days than I did in the entire previous year (ASDA vegetable pizza is THE BOMB) but I can definitely tell that what I have been putting in has been more beneficial. I have more ‘bounce’ my mind feels lighter, more agile. I will have to wait and see if the body is getting the same benefit.
3: One way or another, you are always eating mushrooms.
As I have said, I go for easy options where I can. I’m no stalwart of organic, or free-from or only cooking fresh. If the instructions are “pierce film lid” I am cool with that. BUT, that means you need to like mushrooms. I took a quick look through the -granted, many- vegetarian products in the supermarkets, and almost all of them had mushrooms in. “Stuffed Mushrooms” also seem to be the mainstay of the options when eating out too, although I am sure in more metropolitan areas this is probably less the case thankfully.
4: It’s better if you’re not an arsehole.
We all know them. That person who has made a lifestyle change, and spends the next decade forcing it down the necks of their friends, associates, even complete strangers. It’s not fun, it’s not clever, and it makes it hard work to socialise. I have eaten out twice since turning vegetarian, and luckily was able to find meals without needing to wave a big flag with “VEGETARIAN” on it.
For me, this choice to try vegetarianism was solely mine. I still buy meat for my children, and try to get something “meaty” in at least once a week for my Husband, although he tends to just eat what I make regardless. I am not interested in changing the world to my way of thinking. People will do what they want to, as I am. So to me, the only thing you are doing by being an arsehole about it, making it difficult to be around, and making it hard for people is making your own experience miserable.
5: Vegetarianism is not as mainstream as you would think, especially if you are on a budget.
Before I started out, I would have sworn that being a ‘veggie’ was totally mainstream, there were veggie alternatives to pretty much everything, and veggie options everywhere. Struggles with finding options was so 1998. right?
WRONG! I was amazed! The biggest example I found, was the supermarkets “Dine in for £10” or similar equivalent, where in order to qualify for the deal, you are required to purchase a Starter, a Side, A Main and a Dessert, some have a drink thrown in too. If you don’t get all the items, you don’t get the deal. Now, granted I DO NOT LIVE IN A MAIN CITY, but I have looked in multiple supermarkets on multiple occasions and have only ever found ONE main item without meat in, a ‘Mushroom and Leek Filo Pie’ (see…more mushrooms!) I had never noticed this before, and although it’s not often I actually buy these deals, the fact that 4 out of 5 times I checked I couldn’t have even if I wanted to, seemed wrong.
If you want to buy fresh filled pasta without taking out a small mortgage? your option will undoubtedly be Spinach and Ricotta. Pizza? Well, just cheese. (Apart from the aforementioned vegetable pizza from Asda) Quiche? Cheese and Onion. AND DON’T GET ME STARTED ON LUNCHTIME SANDWICHES.
It seems that, vegetarian products are still seen by the main supermarkets as “luxury options” Aside from what they can slide in as the cheapest, most basic (and by that I mean crap) products to avoid being accused of not catering for vegetarians, Anything that isn’t plain cheese or egg and cress they think they can charge a premium for.
I pondered whether if the only options available to meat eaters was ham, they would feel that was adequate?
6: The best bit about Bacon is the smell.
I am more than happy to admit that I am a life-long, card-carrying, member of the bacon appreciation society. If it came with a side order of bacon, I would have it. I would physically fight anyone who tried to keep me from bacon. In fact, Al Murray even does a sketch on the premise that bacon can prove the existence of God.
So, as you can probably guess, I was somewhat apprehensive about giving up my beloved breakfast staple.
I shouldn’t have worried. One morning while getting coffee in the local shop, I caught whiff of bacon cooking in the kitchen. We all know how glorious the smell is…what I had never realised before (because it was rare I would smell bacon without partaking) was that actually, the ENTIRE experience I usually had when eating bacon was caused solely by the SMELL. When I thought on the actual mouth feel and texture of bacon, it seemed somewhat UNappealing. The smell however, is where the magic happens, and the smell isn’t cheating. #winwin
7: Not all Soy was born equal.
Now I know it is not a prerequisite of vegetarianism to switch out dairy for soy. The reason I have been trying Soy (mainly the milk alternatives) is because if I do decide to progress on towards veganism, dairy is the biggest obstacle for me personally. I AM VERY ADDICTED TO COFFEE.
I actually have a tattoo dedicated to it.
My mainstay, my lifeforce, my very essence is maintained by a steady stream of Lattes, and the thought of losing them is devastating. Black coffee has never really appealed, as I am more of a ruminator over coffee, and black seems a bit stark for my romanticism. Bring in Soy milk. Obviously the most common alternative, and easier to source in mainstream coffeehouses than almond or coconut milk. (Both of which I have tried, but almond was too ‘bitty' for me, and coconut too watery, although I have now moved over to solely using coconut milk in muesli)
In the last 40 days I have tried soy milk lattes in Starbucks (tasted like burnt caramel, VERY pleasant) Caffe Nero (possibly my favourite, as it didnt overtly flavour the coffee at all and had a good texture) and a local cafe. (Disaster — didnt taste too bad while I was drinking it but made me feel decidely sick for several hours afterwards)
I have decided to start out easy on myself in this venture, and choose soy when its available in coffeeshops. At home is trickier as it would seem the better soy milk for coffee is marketed to trade only, the supermarket versions are less successful. I am sure that will improve though, or if I choose to continue on to veganism I will bulk buy the trade stuff from Booker. As it is for now, I am seeing every step forwards as a win, rather than every setback as a failure.
My aim was to move away from eating meat. I have achieved that in 40 days. My habits of consumption have changed and I am happy to say that I will easily continue on this path as a vegetarian. Veganism? That’s for consideration later. It makes sense to me to establish myself with this win first, before trying to push further.
I hope in this post you found some entertainment, if not use. I would love to hear your experiences with trying vegetarian if you have, and I will be embarking on another #first40days very soon.
Peace & Love