I've been debating vegetarianism for a while - on and off for about a couple of years. The last couple of months though, I've been thinking about it quite a lot and this year's Vegetarian Week has tipped me into making some changes.
There's quite a few reasons. The first is the cost of meat. I'm not a fan of low cost meat (the amount of additives, the quality, and frankly, how on earth can it be produced that cheaply and still allow a decent quality of life for the animal? Short answer - it can't.) so I buy outdoor reared, free range or organic when I can. The thing is though, that the cost of meat has risen hugely in the last ten years or so, and I'm not willing to compromise on how in order to keep eating it.
The second reason? I don't really like it that much. My parents didn't eat a lot of meat when I was growing up, so I never quite got into a lot of "comfort" meals. I can't stand cottage pie. I really don't like hot pot... so I never cook them anyway. I avoid pork and lamb (because - to me - they taste like farmyards smell) and beef, especially fatty cuts, triggers my IBS. What's with the national obsession with hot dogs and burgers that is currently doing the rounds? Not for me.
Bearing in mind that I don't really eat that much meat anyway, so why not just go the full whammy and go completely veggie?
Because I really like the "off cuts" of meat, the bits most other folk could do without. I can give or take bacon, but crusty bread smeared with pate and topped with fresh tomatoes? Yes please. There's no replicating the tang of chorizo, or the strong iron taste of black pudding with poached eggs, regardless of what spices you use. I'm also vainly attached to my leather jacket.
I've concluded... although full vegetarianism isn't for me, I can certainly choose more carefully. I'll still eat sustainable fish, largely because it's full of nutrients, and it has fewer ethical issues for me than 'meat' does. It'll also give me a few more options when I eat out - because there are only so many mushroom burgers or goats cheese salads that a girl can deal with (that is, of course, assuming that there isn't an interesting and healthy veggie option available). The other thing, which I've been doing anyway but need to focus more on, is choosing "cruelty free" beauty products. If I have an issue with the way my food is reared, I should also be mindful of how the products I put on my body are developed, so I'll stick to Leaping Bunny approved cosmetics too (a quick scan of my bathroom has reassured me that a lot of my existing products already are - three cheers for Sainsbury's, Superdrug and Liz Earle!).
So, off I go to rummage through and sticker my recipe books and read up on nutrition. Any existing veggies have any tips for me?