The reluctant vegetarian

This week is National Vegetarian Week and the Vegetarian Society is trying to encourage as many people as possible to go veggie, at least for a while, to experience what it claims are the benefits for your health. So I thought I might as well have a go at a little challenge I’ve been meaning to set myself for some time, and become vegetarian for a few days to see the effect it has on my shopping bill.

How difficult can it be? After all, I’ve always been quite fond of vegetarian style meals. When I was single, living in London in a house share and skint I often ate veggie food because meat was expensive, not to mention the fact that my cooking skills then were non-existent and I’d been put off cooking meat by accidentally poisoning my flatmate once with off-chicken, but that’s another story! Luckily she survived and still talks to me – well, occasionally…Interestingly the Vegetarian Society website also recommends a vegetarian diet to avoid food poisoning! And when I cook for myself now I often cook pasta dishes or curries that only contain vegetables, although admittedly mainly out of laziness.

But on second thoughts I’m wondering whether I might have bitten off more than I can chew, to pardon the terrible pun. When I mentioned the idea to DJ this morning – a confirmed meat eater – he wasn’t terribly impressed and didn’t wish to join in with the challenge, so it looks as though I may have to tread this path alone. In fact as if to rub salt into the wound, he muttered something about buying steak for his tea this evening…

And when we went to the supermarket this lunchtime, as we were both working from home and had run out of lots of things, it became clear that it wouldn’t be all that easy. “Do you want some prawns?” DJ asked me. “Oh yes!” I replied without thinking, as there is a delicious spaghetti recipe he makes with prawns and chillis. “I don’t think they’re vegetarian,” he smirked, waving them in front of my nose. “So that will probably just be for me. Oh and the sausages too,” he said, throwing them carelessly into the trolley.

“I can’t think of a creature more vegetable-like than prawns,” I mumbled feebly, stung by his cruel but true words.

The vegetarian life may also prove difficult to stick to, not least because John the poacher is threatening to come round at the weekend with a rabbit or another squirrel, depending on whether he has any luck when he goes shooting. Not that we’ve had a chance to sample our existing squirrel yet, as we were out part of last week and DJ’s brother came to stay with us and we felt unable to foist ‘flightless partridge’ on the poor guy. Especially after DJ frightened the life out of him by unceremoniously plonking my pet lizard Jake on his lap without warning. So even if I don’t end up eating the squirrel this weekend, I could still wind up having to skin one and I’m not sure quite how vegetarian that is…

Are you vegetarian? Do you find you spend less on your shopping bill?  And do you have any good veggie recipes you can recommend? Thanks!

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10 Responses to The reluctant vegetarian

  1. rik says:

    I\’ve just started to eat meat again after around 15 years, not much yet but a start. I can honestly say I don\’t think there\’s any major health benefit as such, unless you count not getting mad cow disease! It depends on what you\’d normally eat I suppose, it\’s easier to get food poisoning from meat of course and you don\’t get as many chemicals in veggie stuff (usually!). If you use quorn substitutes etc. you probably won\’t save much money as they generally aren\’t cheap. I\’ve also come across some veggies who claim to need supplements to replace certain things in meat, it\’s not something I found a problem personally though, I strongly suspect in most cases the marketing people were at work! Of course if you catch/kill your own meat it should work out cheaper to carry on eating it. So far I think chicken and bacon have gone really downhill compared to how I remember them!As for recipes, just adapt your favorites. Experiment with what you like, isn\’t that how all recipes started? 😉

  2. Storm says:

    I don\’t make a lot of purely vegetarian meals (I eat fish, but not meat), but here\’s one that\’s quick:  roughly chop lots of full-flavoured mushrooms, then fry them in butter or olive oil with plenty of garlic.  When they\’re pretty much done you have an option – you can add some sun-dried tomatoes, chopped and some black olives, pitted – or just leave it with the mushrooms.  A ripe avocado wouldn\’t go amiss in this, either.  That\’s the optional bit, now here\’s the rest: Add lots of tomato puree until it\’s horribly thick, then add lots of red wine to thin the sauce.  Chuck in some chopped fresh basil at this point if you want.  Season with freshly ground black pepper, and serve as a sauce for pasta (or rice if you prefer).  I do lots of variations on this sort of thing.  I rarely spend hours slaving over a hot stove, but when I do – it\’s usually a vegetarian dish…

  3. Christine says:

    You\’ve got no chance of being a vegetarian for any time at all if the other half is not going to play. It will cost you far more cooking different meals for the two of you – not frugal at all. I\’d advise either to tell him that he\’s vegetarian for a week because that is what is being cooked or give in gracefully she says laughing. I\’m not for any experiment that costs more than the normal budget just because the advertising makes it seem a good idea and that\’s from someone who is virtually vegan. A lot of the opposition to vegetarian eating is cultural – it seems that it is not part of the tradition in the UK. However I think that a lot of the opposition is also bought on by the bunny hugging end of the spectrum of vegetarians and vegans. Some of us can be pretty off putting at times. But if your cooking skills are good then you can have cakes, puddings, filling meals and not need any supplements as vegetarian or vegan. To do the job properly you have to stock the cupboard right so that you have the bits and bobs to hand and to also study what you need to eat to balance the diet first. Else you will be permanently hungry, tired, brassed off and out of sorts as well as having arguments at home. But you can do easy filling soups, pretty good vegetable risottos and use up those eggs that you have with omelettes. You seem very half hearted on the matter anyway Piper. Is it the opposition at home?

  4. rik says:

    I\’m trying to get the other half to write out her veggie chilli recipe. No meat and no tomatoes (thats for my benefit though, I only like them fresh not cooked!) unless you want them of course.

  5. deourino says:

    Keep up your B12!  I have only just learnt this after 8 years of vegetarianism and it really helps stop you getting moody.  Non-vegetarians get it from meat, but you can do it with supplements or some enhanced breakfast cereals.  Also, to keep up the interest, it\’s great to experiment with new types of beans, pulses and mushrooms.  Sainsbury\’s do a fantastic unusual mushroom pack that is delicious in risotto.  One of the great things about being a veggie for me (and I have the same problem as you – other half is a determined carnivore) is that things keep so much longer.  You can make a stew at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge for a week and a half if you want just using it when you can\’t be bothered to cook!  and he has to cook every night, hah.  Stews and soups also freeze very well, if you do them in portions, and then with a couple hours work yo have ready meals for a week.  which is nice if you\’re lazy like me.

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