That’s the question a lot of the people I know asked me when they found out I was going vegetarian.
And I get it, I really do — I come from quite a meat, vegetables, potatoes kind of family — but sometimes they say it with a sort of… incredulity, or faint horror.
(My aunt actually went ‘No!’, all shocked. I cracked up; you’d have thought I’d announced I was pregnant or something.)
So I thought this post would be a good opportunity to share some of the questions I’ve been asked since I turned pescatarian (five months ago) and subsequently vegetarian (at the start of 2017) and clear up any queries and misconceptions people have about what it’s like to adopt a vegetarian diet.
These are just my experiences but I hope this post is useful, whether you’re thinking of going vegetarian, a vegetarian in need of some solidarity, or simply curious.
|This is an old picture of a breakfast I made last summer, because where I’m living in the UAE at the moment the avocados cost the equivalent of £7.40. Each. Is it bad that the lack of avocados here would genuinely put me off emigrating?|
Why did you go vegetarian?
I went cruelty-free in terms of beauty products in 2014 and in searching for other cruelty-free blogs I discovered plenty of bloggers who were vegetarian or vegan. (At that point I was flexitarian, but mostly because of my very limited student budget.)
Contrary to the annoying stereotype, they were all open about their diets without being pushy and many of them wrote (and still write!) interesting posts about vegan and vegetarian life. I learnt a lot from reading these and I gradually came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to eat meat. Reading up on the meat industry stopped me from enjoying eating it, so I decided to try and stop.
Why didn’t you stop eating fish when you stopped eating meat?
I didn’t want vegetarianism to be a phase and so I didn’t want to give up too much too soon. I also knew giving up fish would be more difficult. I started with meat, just to see if I could do it, and then once I’d been meat-free for a few months I stopped eating fish too. Everyone does things at their own pace and that’s what worked for me.
What do you eat?
Lots of things! Lentils, beans, rice, pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes, plenty of vegetables, eggs, Quorn, Linda McCartney sausages… if you’re used to eating meat at every mealtime it can seem strange at first but I just googled ‘vegetarian recipes’ and borrowed some books from the library for inspiration.
I often make three-bean chilli, lentil pie, vegetable curry, pasta dishes, baked sweet potatoes with some kind of homemade topping, Mexican food with lots of avocado and lime… You can also use meat substitutes like Quorn in everyday meals like lasagne and curry.
Do you miss bacon?
Of course — it’s bacon! But I don’t miss it enough to eat it.
Have you ever been tempted to eat meat or fish again?
A couple of times, most of them involving fried chicken. But my friend Rachel has a great saying — Think of the face — which stops me from caving in. I also know that I’d feel too guilty if I actually did eat meat products; it’s not worth it.
How do you get enough protein?
Foods such as beans, lentils, pulses, quinoa, Quorn, chickpeas (including houmous), and nuts all contain a significant amount of protein. Carbs like bread, pasta, rice, and cereal also contribute to your protein intake (but can’t be relied on alone).
What about Christmas?!
This year I bought a Linda McCartney roast and had a portion of that, then sliced up the rest and ate it in Christmas sandwiches throughout the festive period. I also had some of her red onion and rosemary sausages. (This post is not sponsored by Linda McCartney btw; I just really love her food!)
Do you think everyone should be vegetarian?
In an ideal world, yes. But as we’ve been brutally reminded over the past few months, this is far from an ideal world.
Going vegetarian can be a huge change, one that not everyone may be able to make, and I think it’s much more realistic if people try and do what they can — buy fewer animal products, visit vegetarian restaurants, maybe even give Meat-Free Monday a go. As Nadia points out in her post about flexitarianism, cutting down on the amount of animal products you eat is often a stepping stone towards vegetarianism.
I know a lot of people are put off vegetarianism and veganism because they worry they won’t be considered good enough, but I don’t see the point in looking down on anyone who’s trying to make changes. Every little helps, if I may borrow a phrase, whether you’re completely vegan or only eat meat when you go out for dinner.
Do you get offended if people eat meat in front of you?
No. Everyone is free to make their own choices and I’m not going to judge.
Would you ever go vegan?
I cook a lot of vegan food and I would never say never, but I think going vegan would tip the balance and end up with me going from being mindful about my diet to being obsessive about it. I’m hoping to give Veganuary a go at some point, maybe when I’m more settled, so that I can see how I’d deal with it, but I’m not planning to make the switch at this point in time.
I hope you all found this helpful! Any questions? And have you had any similar experiences? Let me know in the comments!
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Beth, 25, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!