Happy National Vegetarian Week! And welcome to the mini-series I’m writing in honour of the occasion.
National Vegetarian Week was started by the Vegetarian Society and the idea is that everyone who signs up to the newsletter — veggie or not — eats nothing but vegetarian food for a week. It’s a way for potential vegetarians to get an idea of what a vegetarian lifestyle might be like, with plenty of recipes and tips provided along the way.
(This post is not sponsored btw; I just really like the idea. In one of my recent posts someone commented that there needs to be more of an open dialogue between meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters, and I think National Vegetarian Week is a good way of starting that.)
I did an FAQ about going vegetarian earlier this year, but I thought it’d be fun to see if any of my family or friends had different questions now they’re a bit more used to my eating habits. (Shoutout to my pal Alex, who was especially curious and without whom this post would not have been written on time. Ta bbz.)
What is life like without bacon?
Not as bad as you’d expect! The smell does still make me hungry but I recently learned that the smoky taste and scent of bacon is caused by the flavouring, not the meat itself, so once I learn how to recreate that I’ll be sorted.
What is it like to give up popular foods?
A little weird at first, especially if they’re your favourites or other people around you are eating them. I still find BBQs a bit strange, for example, because you have to think outside the beef burger box. (Linda McCartney makes amazing vegetarian burgers stuffed with mozzarella and her sausages are lush too.) But now I’ve given it up, the thought of eating meat or fish isn’t appealing at all because I don’t think of animals as food.
What’s your favourite meal?
I love making Mexican bowls with plenty of sweet potato, vegetable rice, beans, salsa, and avocado. I also have a thing for vegetable lasagne, and my weakness is mac ‘n’ cheese.
Is there a stigma when you’re a vegetarian?
There are those who tend to see vegetarian (and vegan) lifestyles as fussy or a fad, rather than compassionate. I’ve also come across people who think vegetarianism is strange, or hippy, or even unhealthy. And while it certainly would be unhealthy if you just ate cheese all the time (for example), it’s easy to get all the nutrients you need from a vegetarian diet.
Is it difficult to find places to eat?
It depends where you are! Most places in the UK have a few options on the menu at the very least or even an entirely separate vegan and vegetarian menu. There also seem to be more vegan/vegetarian venues popping up — just look at Veggie Pret! But when I was in Dubai it was more challenging, particularly in restaurants, where meals aren’t always labelled, or if they are, they’re labelled incorrectly. (I once went to a Chinese place that put food with oysters under the vegetarian heading.)
Are you bored of seeing vegetarian options with mushrooms in?
Yes, and I love mushrooms!
How difficult is vegetarianism if you’re allergic to nuts and soya? [This question is from my brother, who is allergic to these things.]
It depends what you cook! Some meat substitutes are made from soy protein so you would need to avoid them, but otherwise you’d just need to be careful and look out for ingredients the same way you would normally.
Are there any drawbacks to vegetarianism?
When I’m hormonal I get cravings for fried chicken, and the lack of availability in some places can be frustrating. Some people believe the stereotype that vegetarians are preachy and difficult.
Would you recommend being a vegetarian?
Definitely. Reducing your consumption of animal products helps the planet and there’s still plenty of delicious food you can eat, even if you have to be a bit more creative in the kitchen.
Will you be taking part in National Vegetarian Week? And do you have any questions to add to the list? 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!