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Becoming a vegetarian.

I have been vegetarian for almost a year and I’ve been meaning to talk about it for quite a while because I’m now a gluten free vegetarian and I know that I personally love reading why people change their eating habits, I find it really fascinating.

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So the first time I remember experimenting with vegetarianism…

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(I made Caoimhe and I t-shirts for our documentary pitch for class project back in 2014 but my research for the project started at the end of 2013.)

Back in 2014,  I was making a short documentary for college with my best friend Caoimhe (who’s pictured above on the left with me) about being a vegetarian. In terms of research, I decided to go vegetarian for a month; not only to see what food options were out there for vegetarians at the time but it was also to see how people around me, family and friends, would react. I remember jokes being made in class about it, my family didn’t really get it either but it was a good representation of how I thought vegetarians were perceived at that time. Back then, my Mum was still making my dinners when I came back from college so I had her head in a twist because she was making three dinners some nights. In hindsight, the documentary was not what I wanted it to be. It didn’t really have a point and I could write you a list of fifty things I would change about it, but at the time, I was really proud of it.

Fast forward a few years…

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(This used to be one of our favourite meals: Sweet potato, quinoa and turmeric curry from Deliciously Ella’s book. It’s so good and it’s vegan too! The bread isn’t vegan though.)

At the beginning of the year last year (2016) I was eating meat; I didn’t eat it a lot but when I did, it was either chicken or mince meat. My boyfriend (at the time) and I started to look at buying turkey mince rather than beef mince because we started looking at how fatty the minces were. He had been eating vegetarian for a few years before we met so he’d told me about meals that he used to make so we started looking at a few cookbooks I had to see about vegetarian alternatives.

In finding new recipes, I slowly found myself eating less meat and I was perfectly happy with that. I was never made to feel guilty because I ate meat, it was never something I felt strongly about so when I did start eating meat less, it just made it easier, healthier and cheaper too.

In March, there was a movement called “Meatless March”, you might have heard of “Meatless Monday”, this is when you don’t eat meat for a whole day once a week, that day being Monday of course. It might sound silly to some people but it can be the first step for a lot of people to kick start with progressing into a full-time vegetarian diet. I participated in these a lot in 2015, mainly because I was so interested in seeing how it would affect what I ate but then it slowly didn’t even become a ‘thing’ in 2016 because I wasn’t eating meat so often. So ‘Meatless March’ kicked off on 1st March and I never looked back.

I haven’t ate meat since…

I have zero interest in eating meat nor do I want to ever again. It was never something I was passionate about as a child or a teenager, so cutting it out completely was pretty easy. As I said before, I didn’t eat it all the time so for someone who was eating it every day, I can see how it could be difficult to find alternatives or know what to cook instead of a chicken or mince in a bolognese for example. I get asked a lot, “Does it annoy you if someone else is eating meat in front of you?” For me personally, it doesn’t and that’s because it’s really none of my business. If someone wants to get a cheeseburger, a ten piece from KFC or even have a chicken salad, who the hell am I to preach to them on what they should eat? Unfortunately there are the selected people who don’t take that approach in life and question me on my eating habits. You get the age old question, “Where do you get your protein?” I’m sorry but why is my protein such a big concern to you? Do you ask anyone this or is it just the people who don’t eat chicken? I don’t mind if it’s a genuine question from someone who’s just interested in knowing more about being vegetarian, I really love that someone is taking an interest in that lifestyle even if they have no interest in participating in it. It’s just those people who use every argument under the sun to dismiss my lifestyle completely, “Oh we were born to eat meat.” We’ll agree to disagree on that one.

Do you have anything vegetarian AND gluten free on the menu?…

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(I had this amazing tomato and white bean stew in one of my favourite cafes, Raw Food Rebellion on my day off. All vegan and gluten free goodness!)

Eating out can be quite difficult at times, especially if it’s a new place or if it’s somewhere that I haven’t chosen. Being gluten free can be challenging at times but add being vegetarian to that mix and you’re just adding another wooden spoon to the pot. I have my favourite restaurants and cafes that I know I’m safe, so I tend to stick to those which is always handy. I normally try and ring around places I’m likely to go to and see what they have on offer (or if they have a menu online, even better) but if I’m out with friends, I normally ask and if they can’t do me anything, I just mark it on my list of somewhere I don’t go to again.

I normally get asked is there any reason in particular I’m vegetarian…

I can’t say yes or no to this because I didn’t have a strong reason at the beginning of when I went full vegetarian, I was gradually becoming vegetarian and “Meatless March” was just the push that I needed. I watched “Vegucated”, “Food Inc. and “Forks over Knives” and to see how the animals were being treated was horrific. I’m the first person to admit I’m not the craziest person about animals; I only fell in love with cats last year and I’m still afraid of dogs, but seeing how the chickens and pigs were being treated and for what? So I could have something extra on my plate? I also watched a film called “Kajaki”, it’s a really good film by the way but in one of the scenes, the main character has to kill a hare (or a wild animal of some sort, I can’t exactly remember) and he sits eating it for his dinner. I felt physically sick watching it, it hit me quite hard. So to answer my original question, it wasn’t just one thing that happened, it was a combination of a few things.

I have been caught out…

Not by meat mind you, it’s more the hidden elements you don’t think about. For a month or two, I was caught out by marshmallows and unless you buy special vegetarian marshmallows, those little squidgy balls contain gelatine, either pork or beef, obviously making them non-vegetarian. It’s a very easy mistake to make, I was annoyed it had happened when it did but I didn’t beat myself up about it. The same goes for little gummy sweets like Haribo, I’m almost certain you can get vegetarian versions of Haribo and there’s even vegetarian versions in Marks and Spencers too, so if you feel like you’re going to miss out on your sweets on a Netflix night, you don’t need to worry too much. Oh, I once went out for pizza and I forgot about Parmesan cheese and after I put it on top of my pizza, my boyfriend asked me did I forget about it. That night I was truly gutted and genuinely annoyed with myself.

So what now?…

Well, I took part in Veganuary this past January (that’s one New Year’s Resolution completed!) so I’ll have an entire blog post about that and where I stand on being vegan in the future so once that’s up, it’ll be linked right here and I’ll also be writing about “What I Eat in a Day: Vegan Style” so again, that’ll be linked here too when it’s up.

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Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I just want to say that this is no way trying to change anyone’s mind about eating meat or not eating meat, I just thought it was important to write about since it’s a big part of my life and I wanted to share a more personal experience. If you have any vegetarian or vegan blog posts like this, please link them below because I love reading them!

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12 thoughts on “Becoming a vegetarian.

  1. This is a really interesting post and great for me to read at the moment. I’m a reducetarian at the moment, as I’m very slowly transitioning across (still eating white meat every now and again at the moment) so I love reading these posts. I went veggie for a whole year while at uni so I want to do it again and make the change permanent. I would love to ultimately go vegan in the end, so all of these posts are amazing and really useful at the moment. The sweet potato, quinoa and turmeric curry looks so yummy, will definitely be trying that out! I’m excited to read your Veganuary posts too! – Tasha

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    • I can’t wait to write more about veganism and my future with it in general. I love hearing that people are reducing their meat intake; when people say “Oh well that’s not going to do much”, every little helps at the end of the day so that’s really wonderful. The curry is sensational! ❤

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      • It’s so true, and I often find that when I do it, it helps me so much so these posts are so good for that for me and hopefully I can make the full transition again! 🙂

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  2. This was a really balanced, interesting read. I want to start to cut down this year (our teen has just moved out so I don’t have a fussy eater to cook for!) so thanks for such an honest look at your experience.
    M x

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    • Thank you so much for reading Michelle. It’s much easier when you don’t have to cook for another person or if you don’t have the space for your food and their food, that can be tough. Good luck on cutting down, I hope it goes well!

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  3. Great post! I’ve been vegetarian sincerely I was a little girl (about 16 years or so) and I don’t think I will ever eat meat. I’m like you in that other people eating it doesn’t bother me at all (happily cook my boyfriend meat) but it just isn’t for me!x

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    • That’s fantastic! I think a lot of people have these views that if meat is on the table, that vegetarians or vegans will just start ranting and raving but realistically, I believe it’s only a very small percentage do that.

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  4. Pingback: What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style. | RetroSnowflakes

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