Alongside my summer project of learning about website build and design. I have had a more personal project going on. I’m calling it The Joy of Veg. I decided to eat vegetarian for the whole summer break to see how it felt.
Why go vegetarian?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the summer. I would like to be able to tell you my reasons for becoming vegetarian were ethical, honourable and maybe thought-provoking? But I can’t. The truth is that I’d just got to a place where I could no longer see the point of eating meat.
You will know from previous posts that my digestive system is not the happiest of my bodily functions. I can eat red and processed meat but it usually leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Gallstones have been diagnosed but I opted to manage symptoms with diet. I’ve never been much of a fish eater. That left me with chicken. Chickens are my favourite farmyard animal. But I came to realise that with all the myriad of recipes I had for cooking chicken, it was actually the consistency and routine that had become important rather than the taste.
It just became time to stop.
Of course there is another angle here that’s not new and which I knew was going to make being vegetarian a little bit more of a challenge. I also eat gluten free.
Eating gluten free is nowadays relatively straight-forward (bizarrely, depending on where you live). Eating vegetarian is also made easier by the wide range of substitutes available. However, eating as a gluten free vegetarian has been unexpectedly problematic.
I discovered that many of the vegetarian products promoted to replace processed meat products, contain wheat. Pies were either gluten free or vegetarian, rarely both. Vegetarian pates contain gluten and many sweets contain beef or pork gelatin.
Eating out can be especially difficult and I need to do a lot of research before we all agree on a restaurant.
Summer Holiday Trial
But I decided to try it. How would I feel? More to the point, how would my stomach feel? Was I just going to crave sausages? Was I going to be tired, grumpy and miserable (more than usual that is!)
So, I’ve spent a very happy summer eating a wide variety of vegetables and perusing supermarket shelves for suitable foods. I’ve studied labels and surfed the internet looking for ideas.
Vegetarian family members and friends have helped. Pie told me that I should “make mushrooms your friend, Mum.” A work colleague advised that I get out of the meat and two veg mindset and “just put what you want to eat on your plate.”
At the end of the summer I can report that I have enjoyed the experience immensely and my stomach has been happier than it has been for years. I won’t deny that my body has taken some adjusting. I have been tired but that now seems to have passed (just in time for the new term!) Gluten free vegetarianism clearly agrees with me, and my gallbladder, and I now intend to continue on into the future, listening to my body, experimenting with recipes and rediscovering the pleasure of mealtimes, or the Joy of Veg.
If you have any experience of this, any tips will be gratefully received. Thank you.