Hold. The. Front. Page. Sam’s got a new fad! Well, actually this one isn’t all that new, or particularly faddy. For a few years now, I’ve been toying with the idea of committing to a fully vegetarian diet. Let’s not confuse this with veganism, obvs – unless they’ve already invented vegan halloumi. What? They have?!
Even as I type this, I’m wondering why I even need to put a label on it. I like animals, sure, but not staunchly enough to swear off meat just because of that. And I DO like some meat, sometimes – but it’s never been the mainstay of any meal for me. I can quite happily order the vegetarian option from a set menu, and not even think to myself “Oh, I think I’ll have the vegetarian option. Poor, lowly vegetarian option. Ten points to me for being virtuous.”
The truth is, vegetarianism doesn’t fit with my family life. It doesn’t even 100% fit in my own life, and I’m only a quarter of my family.
I don’t believe in not giving your child the choice as to whether they eat meat or not.
Controversial, I know. But that’s not my decision to make for them. My children both like meat dishes and, frankly, I’d prefer them to eat half a pig than fussily smoosh chickpeas around their plates. Also, it would be SO hard to manage given that they spend much of their week in school or childcare. Our new school for the big child is superb and offers children a choice of three different main options for lunch, and their non-meat options often outweigh the meaty meals two to one. In the month that she’s been there, she’s selected the so-called veggie meal most days, because she likes the actual cuisine. She loves spicy curries and rice, so if there’s one of those on offer, she doesn’t care if the main component is chicken or sweet potato. It’s her choice.
I count calories.
I know, I know. This sucks. But, I’m trying to limit my carbs during the day at the moment, especially work days. Ergo, protein power is a must. I’ll eat a salad for lunch, decorated with some sort of protein. Not only is meat an easy protein win, but it’s low in fat and calories. A grilled chicken breast is less processed than ham, for example, and is very low in fat. Swap that out with a spoon of hummus or something, and the calorific content shoots up. How many days can I take in a boiled egg, or a pot of cottage cheese? Oh, and the hummus thing leads me neatly on to…
I have negative time in which to prepare meals from scratch.
Seriously. I thought it was hard work before, but now I’ve got a new-ish job and the big one is at school, our days are RINSED. Do you know what I do on a Monday when I get in from work? I chop vegetables for WEDNESDAY’S DINNER, because I don’t have time to do it on Tuesday or Wednesday. It is insane, the pressure we are under to get a meal on the table for the adults, so that we can alternate training nights and not get home until 10pm. That’s our choice, yada yada, but it means I’m constantly about eight steps ahead of the meal prep game and it’s exhausting. I do batch cook, but I can normally only stretch this to about three nights before we want to hurl “bedrock” meat / meat substitute in tomato sauce at each other.
It’s not fair on him indoors.
I’m sure he won’t mind me saying this, but my husband is such a carnivorous beast that if you put a plate of rare steak in front of him, he’s halfway to orgasm. We’re polar opposites – to me, a lasagne made with cottage cheese and lentils makes my heart sing. To him, it makes him want to divorce me. And that kind of contributes to my point about not having time – it’s hard enough producing one meal, I cannot be arsed to cook one meaty dinner for him and one non-meaty one for me. It’s just easier to mix and match, I try to do Meat Free Mondays and I also try to whizz in some oily fish too. I guess there’s an element of keeping the caveman happy – if he wants sausage and mash for dinner one evening, who am I to piss on his bonfire and serve up veggie sausages?
So, back to my original point – maybe I don’t need to label it. Maybe I eat a bacon sandwich sometimes and that’s just fine, I haven’t failed or let the side down if the entire team consists of me. Maybe this is one area where I really, really don’t need to heap a load more pressure onto myself, and that a healthy, balanced diet is just enough? Whether it once had a pulse, or IS a pulse, maybe quality and nutritional value should be the key player here.
Are you a lifelong vegetarian, or have you converted recently? How do you make it work in your household?
-SJW September 2017