I will start this post by saying that I have always been a meat eater, and in the long run that’s not likely to change. There is also no hope of me ever becoming vegan – a life without proper chocolate, cake, milk, cheese, or honey? No thank you.
However, I could be vegetarian.
Myself and my partner have often agreed that if plant-based or lab-grown meat alternatives get good enough that you can’t tell/don’t miss the difference, we’d switch in a heartbeat.
And this may not be as far away as it sounds.
Over the past year, we’ve switched to having at least one vegetarian meal per week. It makes for a nice change when you’re getting bored with mealtimes or don’t want that heavy feeling you get after eating meat. It also means new recipes and ingredients to try.
And the veggie world has pleasantly surprised us.
Forget your inhibitions
Vegetarian food is often stereotyped as being boring or ‘just missing meat’, but it’s come a hell of a long way in the past few years alone. As movements in sustainability and animal welfare gain increasing momentum, food producers are having to pay attention to what the masses want.
This means that meat alternatives are actually starting to get good. We were astounded when we first tried a pea protein burger, which not only almost tastes like meat and nothing like pea, but also has no gristle or grease – it has advantages over real meat! Imagine!
If you enjoy Greggs vegan sausage rolls, you’d probably enjoy some supermarket substitutes too.
And of course, it’s not all about finding alternatives to meat. Some recipes don’t even need one. High up in our favourite veggie meals so far is Hello Fresh’s Rigatoni Caprese (minus the olives). I would honestly be surprised if anyone tried this and a) didn’t love it, and b) missed meat once while eating it.
Reasons to try vegetarian food
I’d write a long persuasive paragraph here about why everyone should, but it all boils down to this. Vegetarian food:
- can be healthier for your body
- can improve your mental wellbeing
- reduces your carbon footprint
- saves you money (our first weekly veggie shop was about £20 cheaper than our normal shop)
- helps you to discover new recipes and new foods you enjoy
- creates Instagram-worthy beautiful dishes (if that’s your jam)
- totally counts as a ‘new year, new me’ thing, even if it only lasts a month
- creates more demand for plant-based diets (even just in crazes like Veganuary), and therefore a greater number of companies working to produce better meat alternatives
- is worth giving a go – you’ve nothing to lose!
And who knows, with the dreaded B word finally (sadly) happening from January 1st, turning vegetarian before the chlorinated chicken flies into supermarket fridges may not be such a bad thing…
An invitation to the challenge
I invite you to join me on a less daunting Veganuary challenge: Vegetarianuary. Not only is it more fun to say, but I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you learn about both your tastes and veggie food.
If a full month of vegetarian still seems like too much for you, here are some alternative challenges you could try:
- One veggie meal per week: this way you don’t get bored or put off after a full month without meat, but still get to try new things. Who knows, you might find yourself getting as excited for Veggie Night as you do for Pizza Night.
- No red meat for a month: beef is one of the worst food contributors to climate change for a variety of reasons – check out this blog post to learn more.
And remember, you don’t have to do this in January – you can set yourself any kind of challenge at any time. Vegetari-February has a nice ring to it too! It will give you something to do during lockdowns. Just remember to document your progress to see how far you’ve come and save the recipes you enjoy.
I’ll be posting links to the recipes and meal plans we’ve used at the end of the month, so if you want to try them at your own pace, they’ll always be here.
If you have any favourite vegetarian recipes or products, drop a link the comments below.
Good luck and happy new year!