Over the last six months our family has become about 80% vegetarian. The change has felt very natural and positive. This way of life is becoming incredibly normal for many of us, and the benefits are huge. Let me tell you my story…
Benefits for you and benefits for the environment
No one should be eating a diet of processed meat everyday. We all know that. Eating good foods like roasted vegetables, lentils and beans make me feel good about myself. I stay fuller for longer, and my skin’s better too. There’s also no denying the environmental benefits. Modern food production is harming the planet – whether’s it’s through greenhouse gases from livestock or the deforestation caused by intensive farming. Things need to change and scientists have predicted that we need to reduce our beef consumption by at least 90% over the coming years.
We were never the kind of family to eat meat and two veg every night of the week
This was partly to save money, but also an attempt to force the kids to eat a more varied diet. However, when my husband had to follow a strict low fat diet for seven months (while waiting for gallbladder removal surgery) we cut most red meat and all processed meat like sausages and bacon out of our diet. We started eating more plant-based meals like curries, soups and pasta with nice sauces – and made some easy swaps like replacing beef mince with Quorn and trying vegetarian sausages. We would eat chicken and fish a couple of times a week because it was mostly low fat.
We didn’t miss meat, but the children did
My husband’s had his gallbladder removed now, but we haven’t been gorging on bacon and sausages. In fact, the first time we cooked them I realised I’d practically lost the taste for them. Ethically, I also just don’t feel good about eating animals any more. Our children feel differently, and would still happily eat as much meat as they can – however, I’m now making it my mission to convert them to be completely vegetarian with time.
Better meat, less often
Because the kids love meat so much, I’m not going to push for us to become 100% vegetarian straight away – although I’d like this to happen naturally over time. Instead, we will eat meat and fish a couple of days a week. I’d like these products to be as well-sourced and good quality as possible. So, I’d prefer to buy my meat from Ely Farmers’ market, or failing that something ethically sourced from the supermarket. When I buy beef from my local farmers’ market they can tell me exactly where it’s come from and how to cook it. There’s less packaging too. It’s more expensive, but we won’t be doing it very often.
How I make vegetarian cooking easy
Cooking vegetarian food doesn’t have be difficult, or even particularly inventive. The key is to have plenty of good ingredients to hand. Fill your store cupboard with tins of chickpeas, beans and tinned tomatoes – plus dried lentils, pasta and rice. And make sure you’ve got Quorn mince and some veggie sausages in the freezer. And nice cheese and eggs will always make it easy to come up with a meal quickly. Next, invest in a good cookery book – Rose Eliot’s Ultimate Vegetarian Collection is a great place to start.