from carnivore to vegetarian

Late 2015 I decided to simply stop eating meat for one month, January 2016. It wasn’t because I wanted to be something different or special, it was simply a dare to myself to see if I could do it. I love(d) meat, I grew up eating basically meat and potatoes most of the time so it would be a pretty tough challenge to me, I thought.

But I don’t just do these things cold turkey, I previously experimented with 1 and 2 weeks of meatlessness (it’s a new word :D), so I was positive I could do it.

Christmas 2015 had passed, my last meat dishes were (finally) gone, and so it began …

But first, what does “vegetarian” mean — surely I can eat Chicken and/or Fish !? HAHAHAHA at least that’s what some people may come up with. NO. It means no animal… no beef/cow, no pork/pig, no chicken, no fish, no animal. At all. Full stop. It however does not mean no animal products, like… cheese, eggs, milk, basically anything that’s not a animal.

cheese… OMG! i love cheese!

Ok, so I know what I can and cannot eat and first week or two went quite well, only few cravings for meat, and going vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t find replacements for meat, like CHEESE … I think cheese is great … oh I love CHEESE … in fact, anywhere you would’ve had meat, replace it with Halloumi cheese, nicely grilled, a great alternative when craving for a burger, “chicken” cesar salad, etc. — or so I thought. Yes, there are other types of cheeses, but I particularly like Halloumi.

The thing with replacing everything with cheese is.. well, you may add a couple pounds to your waist. Cheese is mostly around 50% fat! Who would have thought that !? ;) Well, but it’s part of the experience and it was only meant to last for a month anyway.

oh and … no. i don’t like mushrooms!

So at work we do “Burger Fridays” which for obvious reasons can prove a little difficult, and although most pubs and burger places tend to cater for vegetarians in some way, the usual thing they do though is a MUSHROOM instead of the meat patty — ahhh — I hate mushrooms! Maybe hate is too strong of a word, let’s say “dislike” instead. I don’t like the texture (especially) nor do I really care (at all) for the taste. What are my options ? Fries, lots and lots of Fries.. oh and salad, so I can “deal” with that for now. But it’s still quite cold and salad in cold weather just doesn’t really do it.

going veggie is easy! rrriigght !?

As January came and went, it seemed relatively easy to just not eat meat. Or so I thought. So I decided to keep it going, maybe i’ll be OK with even 3 months of not eating meat!? So… I kept going, determined to make it 3 months.

Burger Fridays started to suck, mostly because the places we went to didn’t really have any “good” alternatives for me, or rather, (m)any that I liked. So I often ended up just eating loads and loads of chips (fries). But then … at some point I discovered GBK’s VEGETARIAN BEAN BURGER which changed Burger Fridays to become (a little) more acceptable, with the occasional visit to GBK rather than the “meat only” places we ended up going so many times. But don’t be fooled, there are still so many problems with pubs, bars, restaurants, etc. not really providing great meat alternatives, even though everything they need is already available (vegetarian burgers that look and taste similar to meat, meatless sausages, etc).

Ok, so moving on from Burger Fridays, what about all the other times I had to eat !? Well, there are so so many alternatives to meat that one does not even see / know about until you look for them.

The three months passed and I was positive I can keep going… so I did. :)

In the past year there seemed to be more and more vegetarian & vegan restaurants popping up all over London (UK), so in a city full of meat, it does seem that vegetarianism (another new word?) and veganism (a actual word?) has a increasing number of followers, which is great news for those wanting to try do the same I did, and for the animals of course!

I still remember and like the taste of meat, even now, a year later, which really made things difficult for those unexpected extra months. However, I am such a lucky person for having a actual chef (yes, a CHEF!) as a wife, who happens to have become vegan around 2014. This naturally translates to great tasting vegetarian & vegan friendly food at home, which helped me discover all those other absolutely great tasting alternatives to meat. With a chef at home and great meat alternatives for dinner at home, there’s only really the working lunch challenge left to overcome, and even there I got to take food with me many times; however, sometimes microwaving things don’t quite work as soy protein, gluten, etc. based products may get super dry, changes their texture or in some cases even their taste (I don’t like the soya taste either). So there are still things to work on.

a chef as wife

So my wife is a chef. And she’s also become vegan about 2 years ago. And without her continuous support and food experiments 8-) , a lot of things would have been so so so much harder for me; not only to find and try new things to eat.

So here’s to you … my amazing and wonderful wife … ❤ THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU ❤

so now I’m a vegetarian ?

It’s been an additional 11 months (more now since this post was published a while ago on ovni.io) since my veggie challenge started and I haven’t eaten a piece of meat since so …

Yes. :)

Or… maybe I’m a new kind of vegetarian ? The thing is, I wouldn’t consider myself the “classic” vegetarian, I like the taste of Salami or Mortadella, Sausages, Burgers, etc. etc. so I still tend to have dishes that are coming close to those tastes, however, meatless. In my mind, the “classic” vegetarian naturally prefers to eat (more) vegetables than things that look and taste like meat.

Lucky for the “new kind of veggies” like me, there are so many alternatives and over the last year there has been a vast amount of new products that come so close to the taste and texture of meat dishes that sometimes, you might not even notice it wasn’t meat anymore. Which also sometimes freaks me (and my wife) out a little and we tend to double/triple check, especially when we’re eating out.

the cheesy extra pounds

Like anyone, I should do exercise etc. as a daily routine too, so going to more martial arts classes and doing a little more home-based weight exercise, helped get that back down, and even loose a few…. well, until Christmas came along! :)

people

People are still the main challenge, persistently trying to “convert” me back to eating meat or poking through “comments”, rather than encouraging and being supportive. I guess that’s normal and every (especially) vegan and vegetarian has to deal with that on a daily basis? Sad, but I guess until > 50% of the population are vegetarian (classic or not), this won’t change too much.

why stay vegetarian ? for me, for the animals, for the environment, for our planet

It’s not just for me not eating meat, but it’s also much better for the environment and in general for our planet, and of course for the animals.

Anyone not convinced of this should watch “Before the Flood”, one of the most recent documentaries about climate change and what we do to it just to not even feed humans, but to feed the animals to be bread and slaughtered for our consumption.

before the flood

The part directly related to meat vs veg and how you can help the environment: https://youtu.be/SV-OID45Lds?t=50m54s

In English with Portuguese subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV-OID45Lds

In Spanish (dubbed): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjNqMeI8Yxw

Nat Geo page of “Before the Flood” : http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/