Meat free January

31 Jan 2017

I finally got my butt into gear last night and went and tried out a yoga class near my flat which was all sorts of dandy. BUT, I dunno what I did cos every time I laugh or cough my stomach is like ‘nah uh pal’. Omg so much ache.

Lol, my life is so exciting.

I think I might have mentioned somewhere around here that I was giving up meat in January, and now the end of the month is here already (what the heck?!), it’s time to reflect on how it went no?


Tbh, there wasn’t really one thing that prompted me to make the decision to stop with the meat. It had been growing for a while. I should say that, whilst I didn’t class myself as a veggie, for a while growing up, I was raised on a vegetarian diet. My step-dad was a vegetarian and my dad seemed to have a liking for quorn so, whilst I did still eat meat, whatever household I was in, we were often eating vegetarian options. I think it’s because of this that me and my sister have never been that bothered about meat. I do have a bit of a weakness for chorizo and I won’t pretend I haven’t loved a good old burger or bolognese in the past, but I’ve also been known to get strangely squeamish over meat, both when preparing it raw and when actually eating it. I’ve never been entirely sure where this stems from.

In the past few months, for whatever reason, that squeamishness started to get worse and I started to feel a bit... weird I guess, when eating meat.

And then I became hyper aware of the effects the industry has on the environment which is something that had passed me by until the last couple of years. My sister went vegan last year (told you she wasn’t fussed about meat) and her main motivation was due to the environmental impact so I learned a lot from her. Things like, if every person ate just ONE less meat-based meal a week, it’s the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars of the road. TEN THOUSAND. If we all just swapped for a veggie meal once a week! A vegan’s carbon footprint is EIGHTEEN TIMES LOWER than that of a meat eater. That. Is. Ridiculous.

I don’t want to start a big lecture here, you’re perfectly capable of doing the research, but I was shocked to discover facts like the ones above and I do think it’s time we stopped ignoring them, and discuss more. Particularly when there's a moronic president currently ignoring climate change.

Everyone is different. Some people are very much all-or-nothing. Some people can change to veganism over night. Other people, like myself, want to make a difference but I just know that if I tried the all-or-nothing style, I would fail within a week (mainly cos I love cheese...). But that doesn’t mean I can’t cut down on things and still make a difference. It’s unnecessary for us to mass produce certain foods on the scale we do and if the demand were to go down, so would the production.

So I decided to try it out. I wasn’t doing it just for January, but January was a trial period, to see how it went. I continued to eat a small amount of fish but stopped eating meat completely. I became a pescatarian, if we’re gonna get technical.

So, how’d it go?

Well... it was easy. I don’t really know what I was expecting but it was. I mean, because I wasn’t a huge meat fan anyway, I didn’t actually eat a lot of it in the first place so I guess it was easier for me, someone who naturally veers towards the veggie option, than it would be for someone who has meat in every meal. But, practically speaking, it isn’t remotely hard to be a vegetarian when cooking your own food.

The main thing to think about was the fact that G is a meat eater and continued to be so. Obviously we cook meals together so I thought there would be some impracticality but, again, I was surprised at how little there was. We had a few meals where there was both (i.e. he had meat sausages, I had veggie sausages), but otherwise G ended up eating a lot of veggie meals as well. I’d say I probably ate a bit more fish than I did before; in those times when throwing quorn chicken or tofu into a curry just wasn’t want I was digging - prawns it was. Mostly, when it was time for what would usually be a meat-based meal, I enjoyed no longer needing an excuse to raid the veggie section in the supermarket. Give me Tesco’s spicy Mexican bean burgers any day of the week. Those guys are just <3<3<3

Oh and I also discovered Jamie Oliver’s lentil bolognese which is ridiculously tasty. I’ve had it twice this week already.

 I noticed it most when I was in restaurants. Before, I would take in the whole menu, whereas now I have to specifically scan for the vegetarian stuff. It surprised me how many places still offer a poor selection of vegetarian options. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some places are great and it wasn’t like I was sat there with a side salad. But it did make me realise that a lot of my meat eating beforehand actually occurred when I was in a restaurant, probably from lack of choice.

On the plus side, the vegetarian options are usually cheaper.

The other thing that surprised me was people’s reactions. Some people didn’t really bat an eyelid, which is what I was expecting. It’s hardly a new concept. On the other hand, I had some friends who looked genuinely surprised, or even shocked, which bemused me. They didn’t seem to have a clue as to why I would give up meat and a lot of people still seemed unaware that the industry even has any effect on the environment, which was interesting. People also seemed to feel the need to talk about times when I had enjoyed meat in the past. Which was just a bit odd. I was never denying I’d eaten meat in the past... that’s kinda what I mean when I say I’m ‘giving it up’.

What did I miss?

This chorizo pasta dish, which is a favourite of mine. So surprisingly little. I realised that I would miss fish a lot more than meat if I gave that up as well which I wasn’t expecting. Something to consider in the future.

So what next?

Well, I don’t know how this fits morally, but February 1st will see me making the above chorizo pasta dish for dinner. But then, I’m right back at it. Not just for January. I think this may be for keeps? We’ll see how it goes. I think the trick for someone with my personality is not to say ‘never again’. Forever puts me off, forever seems like an impractical challenge and I start wondering about a situation that might occur where I suddenly really want my favourite chorizo pasta meal... like Phoebe’s pregnancy-meat cravings (Friends ref).  So I guess, if I really want something, I’ll probably have it. But I can’t imagine that happening a lot at all, particularly the more time goes on.

I’m eating options that, in my opinion, are more interesting and I’m trying to make a small, good impact on the environment. I figure that’s okay for now.

I'll keep you updated and, if you've got this far, thanks for reading this long-ass post!