Vegetarianism: What, Why + How // FOOD

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EDIT: In December 2015, I transitioned from vegetarian to vegan. While vegetarianism is still a great step, I could no longer ignore the awful cruelty of the dairy and egg industries. Take the below with a pinch of salt, and know that a lot of it no longer applies to me, nor do I agree with a lot of what I have written here.

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I have now been vegetarian for around 10 years, so feel as though I am relatively well educated on the matter. I wanted to write a post about it why I am vegetarian, why I like being a vegetarian, what I do and don’t eat and what some of my favourite things to eat are.

I want to also say straight up that in no way am I trying to force my opinions here – I completely recognise that some people choose to eat meat, and that is perfectly fine. And no, I wont get offended if you eat your meat pie in front of me 😉

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Why Am I Vegetarian?

When I was younger, I was never particularly fond of meat. I would eat it, but I distinctly remember not liking it. I also have clear memories of not being okay with the fact that animals were killed for our consumption. I have always said that I’ve been too compassionate for my own good (I cry about everything), but it never quite sat right with me.

When I was 10, I remember saying I was “vegetarian”, but would still eat chicken and was still happy to eat the sausage rolls on grade five school camp. When I was 11, it was just chicken, then at 12 I went completely vegetarian. In the almost ten year time period since then, I have only consumed meat products a handful of times.

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Shortly after I decided to do vegetarianism ‘properly’, I became the annoying 12 year old who actually, legitimately, shamefully, made a PETA cartoon the desktop on my family’s computer. I was 100% that guy.

While the moral reasons for my vegetarianism are still there today, I would say that I am now a vegetarian more so for how it makes me feel. I feel as though my body thrives best when I am eating a proper vegetarian diet (proper is the important part there!), and on the few occasions over the last decade where I have ‘tried’ a bite of meat, it has not sat well with my body and actually makes me quite sick. Overall, I have both ethical and physical reasons for being vegetarian, and I’ll leave it there.

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What do and don’t I eat?

Technically, I believe I am a ‘pescetarian’, although for how rarely I eat fish it’s easier just to go with the vego tag. While I don’t eat fish a lot, at all, my nutrition degree has led me to understand that there are vital nutrients in fish (EPA and DHA most importantly, forms of omega-3 which are incredibly important for brain development) that cannot be obtained in the amounts we need them in realistic amounts from other sources (i.e. you’d have to eat an absolute shitload of walnuts to get the same amounts as a small piece of salmon). If I choose to eat tuna I ensure I buy a brand that is sustainably sourced.

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I now choose to only remove meat/poultry from my diet, although there was a period where I was incredibly strict – avoiding gelatine, rennet and any animal by-product. Now, as my reasons for vegetarian are more because of how my body reacts, I am a lot less worried about such products. While I generally avoid them, if I get made a dish with chicken stock instead of veggie stock, I will probably still eat it.

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As for dairy, I generally eat it. I react pretty awfully to dairy sometimes, so don’t eat it often, and when I do it’s not a lot. I always choose full-fat products, as I prefer food in it’s least-processed but still safe form (pasteurised).

I generally only eat meat substitutes (Quorn etc) if I feel that I am low in iron or need some extra protein.

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My favourite things to eat

I eat generally plant-based meals, and a lot of my meals do end up being vegan, even without me meaning them to be.

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Breakfast

For breakfast, I will generally have one of two things – avo on toast or porridge. We make our own bread at home using Laucke German Grain mix (which is 100/10 delicious), and I usually have avocado spread on that with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and sesame seeds. I will sometimes have an egg as well, especially if I need to be full for a long time (e.g. if I have work in the morning and wont get home until 2 or 3pm). I make porridge with almond milk and a tiny bit of coconut sugar, then generally just have bananas on top. If we have nuts at home I might throw some of them in too, or sometimes I get extra fancy and caramelise my bananas. I want to do an entire post on breakfast soon, in which I’ll do lots of my favourite variations on what is essentially the only breakfasts I eat!

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Lunch

A lot of the time, as boring as this is, lunch will just be mostly fruits and veggies. If I’m at uni I’ll take cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snow peas, beans, apples and bananas to snack on, and if I’m at home I’ll usually roast up some cauliflower, sweet potato or broccoli to keep me going while I study. Simple, but if you cook them with the right herbs and spices (garlic and turmeric is my personal fave) it makes a really delicious meal.

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Dinner

Dinner is a hard one for me to write about as it changes so often. I’ve been cooking since the age of 9, so more often than not my meals are just haphazard concoctions thrown into a pan. I recognise that is in incredibly unhelpful, so instead I might just link some of my favourite recipes that frequent my stovetop. My dal makhani, this vegan roast capsicum pasta (that I could literally live off every day for the rest of my entire life), this cauliflower salad and this courgetti dish.

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I eat a whole range of things, but I listen to my body. I can now tell when something is wrong, and therefore take the necessary steps to fix the problem. If I’m craving a steak, you can bet I don’t actually want it – I just need iron. I eat plenty of beans, pulses and legumes, ensure I get enough protein and eat as many fruits and veggies as I possibly can. The most important thing is making sure you don’t just eat crap! The term ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ does not automatically make something healthy – in fact Oreos, chicken noodle cups and a whole lot of other processed crap are ‘vegan’, but will not properly nourish your body! If you have any questions about being vegetarian/what I eat etc, I am more than happy to answer them! Just leave them below for me ^_^

 

Are you vegetarian? Have you ever tried being vegetarian?

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