Whilst I continue to wait patiently for something to happen in my veggie plot, zucchinis, capsicum, eggplant, cucumber, tomato, basil, rocket and chilli’s are all in a happy place, I thought I would try to explain or perhaps justify my reasons for saying yes to no meat. I am only about three months into my new life as a vegetarian but I know this man’s not for turning.
Even the word vegetarian comes with preconceptions. When you close your eyes and try to conjure up a vision of what a vegetarian looks like it’s hard to shake the image of a slightly out there, alternative hippy type pedalling notions of free love and peace on earth. I don’t tend to pedal that, although it would be quite nice, I have never owned a dreadlock, my fire throwing is appalling, tie dye is not part of my wardrobe and I don’t have a sidekick dog.
When I tell people I have kicked the carnivore I am faced with a look of utter shock bordering on dismay. Indeed when Mrs Under told her Mum, a traditionalist it’s fair to say, her reaction was, “oh Anna why have you done that” it was as if she had just confessed to torturing a puppy or some other heinous crime. The other reaction might be, “I just couldn’t live without bacon”. I myself have spent 33 years convincing myself that meat is the best thing since sliced bread, so to speak. But it hasn’t been difficult at all, you adjust your mindset, ignore your prejudices and it all just happens. Like smokers trying to kick their habit, the veggie curious will put preventative bacon flavoured barriers in place.
All the way up until my last days as a meat eater I tried to buy free range and organic but it was just too expensive. The money I now save on expensive meats goes towards buying extra good oils, cheeses, breads, cereals, etc, the gourmet shit.
It’s amazing how quickly my relationship with meat has changed. Even the word ‘meat’ sounds a little more barbaric than it used to, I have to hold my breath when we walk through the butchers section at the market and I don’t have to question what sort of life the zucchini I am chomping on led before it met my mouth – I grew it!
It has reinvigorated my love for cooking, it was previously too easy to throw some meat at the situation with a little token veg to score some health points. Since my conversion I have to try much harder, I love food and would not settle for simply eating nut loaf night after night, who would, so I have needed to be more adventurous and more creative. I am certainly eating a higher quality of food than I was in the meat years.
I am eating healthier than ever before, one of the reasons I converted is because I kept hearing that the diet leaves you feeling more energised. My body no longer has to break down the porterhouse steaks that I used to inhale in seconds. Cheeses, herbs, spices, dressings, vegetables, pastas, breads, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, beans, pulses, grains, oils are all stepping up and vying for attention on my plate. Rather than having a central meaty focus my meals tend to be a smorgasbord of bits and pieces. After realising my jeans were starting to feel a little loose around the waist it’s easy to justify a glass or two of wine, some fairly extravagant deserts and not to mention second helpings at mealtimes. Fattening up is a new experience and I’m quite enjoying it.
Looking for fresh inspiration to make the journey smoother and more enjoyable I wanted a veggie bible to show me the light. After a lot of research, I get quite anal when it comes to research I usually research to the point of mental breakdown, I purchased Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Veg Everyday”. Yes that is the bloke who took great delight in cooking up and gobbling down placenta. It is however a fantastic book and I would recommend it to veggie and carnivore alike. Rather than trying to conjure up dishes that desperately try to replace meat, the book asks that you ignore it all together and focus on how great vegetables are.
If any of this came across as preachy that was not my intention, these are my reasons and I couldn’t give a burger what you do. I still buy and prepare meaty meals for Max (remembering that I am no longer allowed to lick my sausagey fingers), he can make that choice himself one day. I feel it will become a choice that more and more people are going to make and okay Australia might be a fairly hard nut to crack. I look back and wonder why on earth it took me so long to switch allegiances. Now if you’ll all excuse me I am off to activate Pete Evans almonds.