Friday, 10 July 2015

Meat-free isn't always stress-free

I've effectively given up on my diet for the next week.  We move house next Friday and there is simply not enough space in my life or kitchen for worrying about calorie-counting or 5-a-days.  Once we've moved, we will have two massive supermarkets within a five minute walk of the front door, so proper eating will be easier once more.  Honest.

Slipping off the diet wagon has made me think about one of the stricter diets I've tried over this year.  I posted a while back that I had missed the boat with Meat-Free Week but, as a supporter of the idea in theory, I was keen to give it a try once the meat in the fridge had been eaten.  I did actually do this but never got around to writing up my experience.  Like so many diets, it wasn't something that really suited me...

In some ways, going veggie shouldn't have been a big deal.  I quite frequently get to the end of the day and realise I've not had any meat.  My problem comes during those weeks when I end up eating out a lot.  Granted, the choices for vegetarians have definitely improved (although I'm sure being a vegan is hard work) but there are still plenty of food outlets that seem to view a bean burger and some kind of spinach lasagne concoction as sufficient choice for the herbivores out there.  I think omnivores are sometimes the problem here: I know plenty of people (mainly guys, although that's anecdotal) who would actively turn their noses up at a meal that didn't include meat.  That seems weird to me.  Good food is good food, just like good music is good music regardless of the genre.

Pretty and yummy
I certainly had some good food when we went vegetarian.  Hubby made a lemon and mushroom pasta from Nigella's book that was light and filling at the same time.  We had a lentil and aubergine curry courtesy of Jamie Oliver that is about my favourite curry ever (and makes enough portions to freeze for a month).  We even had veggie pizza and went out for curry without any compromise about the kind of food we ordered.

Word of warning, though: curried Brussels sprouts and cabbage might be delicious but they are not your friend the next day.

In fact, considering a vegetarian diet is supposed to be healthier than my usual one, I felt quite a lot worse for it.  My mild IBS usually only flares up with stress, so I have to assume that the change in diet was partly responsible for the discomfort I felt at various parts of the week.  There may have been other factors involved (and one week isn't exactly a rigorous test), but I felt no qualms about calling it quits after Day 6.  I had a chicken and pea pie and it was awesome.

I felt better too.

I think going meat-free did instill in me a greater awareness of what I was eating and where it comes from.  The supermarkets near the new flat both have really good meat and deli counters, including a lot of fresh and locally-sourced products, and I think trying to eat a higher quality of meat might be a better alternative for me than forgoing meat entirely.  I'll have the occasional day of accidental vegetarianism alongside a long-term commitment to buying local fresh produce, perhaps even going organic in future.  That way, I'm limiting the global impact of my meat consumption without having to give up burgers.  It was a good experiment and it taught me a lot, but vegetarianism just isn't the lifestyle for me.

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