About a year and a half ago I threw up after eating a homemade beef burger. This is a bold statement to start a blog with – but stay with me. As a result of this unexplained vomiting, I lost my appetite for minced beef. I used to eat it roughly twice a week, so cutting it out of my diet took some effort. Since I stopped consuming mince, however, I noticed something pretty great; my stomach has become less susceptible to bloating. I know this is a minor and superficial change, but it’s a big deal for someone who has lived with ulcerative colitis for 12 years and who was told that diet didn’t play a major role in easing the symptoms. This small but positive result made me reconsider the role of meat within my diet and ultimately, if I really needed to eat meat at all…
This lasted for about two days before I realised: ‘Yes, yes I really do need to eat meat. I LOVE meat’. I need chicken, I need bacon, and steak is a rare but delicious treat. I can handle eating maybe one beef burger a year, but I can’t go without the other stuff. It’s too hard. What I’ve realised is although I enjoy meat, my body sometimes dislikes me for it, so it’s good to know I can avoid this digestive quarrel with a vegetarian alternative. I’m not here to demonise people who eat meat, or to divinely praise people who are vegetarian. What I want to do is list three reasons why I believe eating less meat, and more vegetarian food, is a good thing (for me at least):
1. Vegetarian food is no longer boring
I thought being vegetarian meant you could only eat lentils like Neil from The Young Ones, or you had to have Quorn with every meal. Jamie Oliver’s cook books have proved my theories wrong. His vegetarian recipes are delicious: his veggie chilli, and spicy tomato spaghetti are two of my favourites. I’ve had to alter the quantities of some ingredients to suit my taste, but I now prefer these dishes to their meat alternatives. It’s easier than ever to find good vegetarian food. Supermarkets stock loads of vegetarian options, and all the ingredients you need to make your own meat-free dinners.
2. It will save you money
Meat is expensive. Prices depend on the quality and the quantity of what you’re buying, but whether it’s chicken or beef, it’s still a burden on the wallet. I understand that some vegetarian foods – nuts and tofu etc – are also expensive, but there are ways around the price tags. Dried pasta, rice, tinned vegetables and pulses, fresh fruit and vegetables: these are all cheaper than meat. It doesn’t take a lot to make this stuff taste great either. Chilli, garlic, ginger, & basil are all affordable in dry or fresh form. I recommend Aldi for all of this stuff. It’s cheap and good quality.
3. It’s good for you (physically and morally)
In a moral sense, eating more vegetarian food is good for the environment and the conscience. I am sensitive to arguments about protecting all life, whether it be human or animal, but I am also realistic about the farming industry and the consumption of meat in this country. My meat arrives in plastic, prepped and ready to cook, so it’s easy to detach from the reality that this animal has been bred and killed for my consumption. I don’t want to get in to the politics of vegetarianism because that could get messy, but as shallow as it sounds: when I don’t eat meat I feel ‘good’ in a moral sense as well as in a physical one.
I still love steak, pepperoni is always going to be my favourite pizza topping, and nothing beats a bit of crispy bacon for breakfast: but the meat-free options have proved to be just as tasty, so it seems silly to ignore their benefits.