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So, at the beginning of summer I decided to become a vegetarian. First, I’d like to make some form of disclaimer: I’m not a particularly good vegetarian as far as vegetarians go. I didn’t become a vegetarian because of my love for animals. Initially I became a vegetarian because I wanted to see if having less, or in my case, no meat in my diet would make me feel better physically. It did, but don’t get me wrong, being vegetarian is hard.
I have technically been a vegetarian now for 6 months and even I am surprised at how I have managed to do so well for so long. Before choosing this lifestyle I ate a lot of meat, pretty much all of my meals contained some form of meat and moving from that to none at all was a big shift in my life. It turns out that some people cannot digest meat in the same way as others due to its high protein content, and I was one of these people. For that reason when I became vegetarian I did feel a lot better, less groggy and generally healthier.
As I said before, I’m not a very good vegetarian. There have been momentary lapses in my vegetarian-ism. In my first week I accidentally bought chicken and vegetable soup, somehow completely forgetting the ‘chicken’ element and managing to eat half a bowl of it before remembering that I was trying to be vegetarian. Then there was another time when I bought a Big Mac after a night out and ate it sitting in my room a little bit worse for wear, only to wake up hungover to realise what I’d done with the remains still left on my bedside table.
My first challenge came during a trip to France only weeks after I’d decided to become a vegetarian. There was a group of around 25 people who ate BBQ everyday, and as a vegetarian who doesn’t like fish, it was pretty difficult for me to find foods to eat. Luckily the French are pretty well known for their great food and I really like pasta, otherwise I might have starved to death.
Eating out is also increasingly difficult. Why do restaurants only cycle through 3 vegetarian ingredients when deciding what to serve for vegetarians: either goats cheese, mushroom risotto or stuffed peppers? Any vegetarian will know exactly what I mean by this because they sell at least one of these things at almost every restaurant I have ever been to. Thankfully the world is finally coming to terms with vegetarianism and they are branching out when it comes to vegetarian options and now there are even vegetarian and vegan dedicated restaurants.
With Christmas on the horizon, I feel like this might be my biggest challenge yet. Christmas is stereotypically made for meat-eaters: the turkey, the pigs-in-blankets, the ham, just meat everywhere you turn. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem for most vegetarians because it is usually the case that people choose this lifestyle because they either (a) hate meat or (b) love animals. I really like meat, it’s only that meat doesn’t like me. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to tackle this problem. I’ve tried some meat alternatives and I’m not sure I fancy having a ‘Tofurkey’, the apparent tofu equivalent of a turkey, when everyone else is scoffing down a plate full of meat.
Despite vegetarianism being incredibly difficult, it has almost become part of my routine now and I’m not sure that I will ever go back to being a meat-eater. I love meat but for me the benefits outweigh the negatives. Even though I will continue to moan that I miss the odd burger or that restaurants don’t cater for vegetarians well enough, I do like being a vegetarian and maybe it’s something everyone should give a go once in their life. You never know, you might find that you like it!