THIS month I am joining millions of other Brits who are cutting out meat of their diets.
Yes, I, a devoted carnivore of 23 years, am going vegetarian for the first time in my life.
And although in the past I have scorned at the irony of a green-eating fad that takes place in the month after 14 million turkeys are eaten as part of Christmas festivities in the UK alone, I figured it was time to stop scorning and join the veggie-lution!
But before I update you on my first 15 days, I have a disclaimer: it is that it has in fact been 14 days, for one sacrifice I was not willing to make, as I’m sure many fellow Scots will empathise with, was the New Year’s Day steak pie. Therefore, my beefy boycott will end on February 2nd. It still counts.
The experience has so far brought many challenges and opportunities.
Challenges: Sometimes, when you’re testing self discipline in circumstances like these, you find yourself confronted with the most bizarre challenges — for example, seeing your housemate outside in mid-January’s sub-zero temperatures firing up a barbecue, throwing on some chicken, burgers and sausages, before shouting over as you take out the bins “I’ve got plenty to spare if you fancy some?” This happened on day nine, but by that point I was too far committed to throw it all away. I knew then I could make it all the way.
Opportunities: I love to cook, and whilst ultimately my decision to go meat-free for a month is an environmental one, I’m also keen to improve my vegetarian recipe repertoire. In practice, this has meant I’ve been cooking a lot of cheese-based dishes, such as cheese on toast, cheese toasties and cheese and crackers. And although this isn’t cheating as such, I feel that to a certain extent it doesn’t feel like much of a new year health-kick if you’re eating more cheese than you did over Christmas.
I feel similarly about meat alternatives – I’ve become a huge fan of a certain brand of vegetarian burgers masterminded by the wife of an ex-Beatle – which, again, do not bend the rules per se, however, these foods shouldn’t dominate a true vegetarian diet in my humble opinion. I came to this realisation whilst eating a lasagne I lovingly prepared on day six using plant-based fake mince, which was equally calorific and very nearly as tasty as the real thing.
So 13 days in, and not missing meat as much as I thought I might, my goals for the two weeks that lie ahead are to further embrace the veggie psyche, integrate more vegetables to my recipes and lay-off the cheese.
See you in a fortnight.