When I was sixteen, I became vegetarian. That was eighteen years ago (that makes me 34 now to save you the effort of working it out!) which means I’ve spent more of my life vegetarian than as a meat eater. Five years ago, if you’d asked me if I thought I would be vegetarian forever, I would have said ‘yes’ without hesitating. If you asked me now, I couldn’t be sure…
Don’t get me wrong, I have no immediate plans to cook myself a big steak (apart from the fact I have never cooked one so would probably poison myself in the process…) but I no longer am confident that that won’t happen some day – in a year, ten years, thirty years…I don’t know. I’ve not really shared this in the real world as I went vegetarian ‘for the animals’ and I don’t suddenly ‘not care’, but I’ve found myself craving meat on and off for about the last two years. Never quite enough to ‘dabble’ but enough to make me question my choices at least in principle.
I’m not sure whether my cravings are a genuine desire to return to eating meat for the taste or whether it’s simply a lack of variety in my own diet (i.e. boredom and/or deficiencies of something like iron or B12). It was only earlier this week that I really considered the latter as an option. Until then I had assumed it was genuinely missing the taste of meat – and this still may be the case but I feel the other option is definitely worth exploring first!
My diet is not very varied at all. Apart from the fact that I eat vast quantities of sugary, high-fat snacks such as cake, biscuits and chocolate, I have very little variety in my actual meals. The main problem is one of laziness I suppose. I don’t really enjoy cooking (I keep hoping to find the love and discover my inner domestic goddess but it’s not happening…) and, therefore, rely heavily on convenience foods, takeaway, and a handful of meals which I cook regularly (and even those are half-convenience as I use jar sauces etc). I suppose I resent spending time cooking a meal enough as it is without the added possibility that I might not like a ‘new’ meal and then that time and effort chopping vegetables and so on would have been wasted and I’ll be hungry and crabby and still have to find something else to eat…it exhausts me just thinking about it!
So I need to find a way forward. I need to expand my base of meals that I enjoy. Come up with some ingredients that I’d like to cook with that I’ve not used before – sweet potatoes and artichokes spring to mind as I have enjoyed eating them out and about – as well as maybe finding new convenience foods to eat too. I know that sounds a bit horrifying to you cookery lovers but, as I don’t enjoy cooking at present, I think I need to consider it. I’m thinking of experimenting with those plain Quorn fillets and different jars/packets of sauces for example. I like Quorn (though some of the products can be dry – so maybe I need to experiment with cooking methods too) and products like that do help to give me some of the meaty flavour/texture that I miss as well as some extra protein.
As well as main meals, I need to consider light lunches and breakfasts too. Unlike my little boy (who would eat cereal and toast until it came out of his ears) I am never at all inspired by breakfast. I like sugary, bready things like chocolate chip brioche, crumpets with jam, and hot cross buns but they don’t leave me full for long. Poached egg on toast is nice but I wouldn’t want it every day and couldn’t be bothered either. As for cereal, well I find it pretty tedious. Sandwiches (which tend to be a lunchtime staple) have also become boring with it being basically cheese or Quorn ‘ham’ or ‘chicken’ slices…maybe with a token bit of lettuce thrown on there. I need more satisfying options that don’t take an age to prepare and then make a point of having the ingredients available.
So the bottom line is that not only do I need to think about how I eat but also what I eat. I have been rather guilty of using Beyond Chocolate’s ‘eat what you want’ principle to mean ‘gorge on cake and chocolate all day’. But it’s not satisfying me. I need more options. And that means finding a way to allow myself to make a bit more effort without making myself spend too much more time in the kitchen.
Please feel free to throw in any ideas for meals, breakfasts or sandwiches, that you love that are either veggie or can easily be made veggie (e.g. by replacing chicken with Quorn).