There are many things about my life and lifestyle that I know I could do better at; I could spend less time procrastinating, more time studying, eat more fruit and veg, waste less, save more money. But one of things that has been top of my list for some time is reducing the amount of meat that we eat.
I have always had an up and down relationship with meat eating. When I first left home aged 17/18 I went vegetarian for several years and although I eventually started eating meat again I have always been aware, in the back of my mind, of the cost of this sort of lifestyle on both the planet and on animals.
When I was vegetarian all those years ago, I was such a novice cook. Although I was bought up in a home of cooking from scratch and where my mum always made an effort to cook meals that had vegetables nestled away in the dish (in fact, for years, I used to wolf down “cheese soup”, which I later discovered was actually cauliflower soup! The horror!) I was a bad vegetarian. What I would refer to now as a cheese on toast vegetarian; I lived off of (mostly) frozen substitutes and anything pasta based and it became boring. To give me some credit, I am talking about 13 years ago and, although there were substitutes around, it was mostly limited to Linda McCartney sausages and a few bits and bobs of Quorn.
So, I’m going to start 2018 by being vegetarian for January, at least. I was tempted to go the whole “hog” (ahem) and go for Veganuary, but I think there is value and longevity in making small changes to a lifestyle, rather than a crash change to everything all at once. I am already a big fan of milk alternatives, as I don’t really like cow’s milk, so I am going to try to make as much as possible of my vegetarian food vegan, but if I can’t do it all the time, that’s OK.
For anyone else thinking of giving it a go; some resources and tips you might find useful:
The Veganuary website
Even if you’re going vegetarian and not vegan, this website has a tonne of amazing recipes and inspiration you can use to put together meal plans. There’s even a weekly meal planner you can print out and fill in, including snacks (snacks are very important).
The Vegan Southampton website
News, events and links to lots of local businesses, restaurants and resources for any vegans and vegetarians in the Southampton area.
Bloggers and YouTubers!
There’s loads of really great ones out there, a quick google search will bring up lots of options. But some of my favourites are:
Avant Garde Vegan – BEAUTIFUL vegan food (and great how to videos);
Cooking on a Bootstrap – recipes for those on a budget, including vegan recipes;
Naturally Ella – to take you back to basics. Cooking tips and what to stock your food cupboard with;
BBC Good Food -the old classic. I’ve used this site for years for general inspiration. The best bit about is that there are a lot of seasonal recipes and its easy to search meals and ingredients.
This may not be true for the seasoned vegetarians among us, but for me, preparation is key. It’s the times when I haven’t planned ahead or thought about what I’m going to eat when things become more complicated. It’s that last minute dash to the supermarket to try and find something, to come out with a packet of noodles and a piece of fruit. Not ideal.
For January, I’ve planned out 31 different vegetarian meals and a few lunches, which will also include leftovers. That definitely doesn’t mean to say I have to eat those recipes on those days, but it gives me an easy reference point when I’m deciding what to cook for dinner over the next few days and to plan my food shopping properly, instead of panicking and trying to google last minute options before the supermarket closes. I just make a list of all the recipes I fancy trying and a little key at the side to remind me where to find it i.e. recipe books or online.
Most people have these lying around at home and you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t have at least a few vegetarian recipes in there, whether its on purpose or not! When I’m doing meal planning (vegetarian or otherwise), I love sitting down with some of my favourite recipe books and flicking through for inspiration on what to cook.
That’s right, friends and family who are vegetarian.. or people you know online. There’s a really great community of people out there who love vegetarian food and I’ve always found them very willing to give guidance, help and recipes to anyone thinking of giving it a go.
Is anyone else doing Veganuary or going vegetarian for 2018? I’d love to hear from you and hear any tips you might have!