Like pretty much everyone I know January began with a groan and a whimper and a promise to stop the terrible abuse my poor body had been subjected to since December the 1st. Mainlining chocolate, baileys and prosecco doesn’t make for a healthy body or mind (well, not when you do it for a whole month without stopping) and some changes needed to be made. The best thing about going on a health kick in January is that everyone else is with you, makes it much easier. The booze was the first to go, we managed 2 weeks without a drink, turns out sobriety leads to lots of clearing out and cinema visits for us. I knew it was time to get back on the gin when I found myself spending a saturday night clearing out that random drawer in the kitchen where you keep drawing pins, batteries and random ousse.
The other thing that had to go was meat. The more I read about cow farts and intensive farming the less meat I’d been eating generally but I decided to see if I could get through January without eating any. And so far I haven’t actually missed it at all. It’s at this point that I become a bit of an apologist for my vegetarianism, slightly concerned that I’m going to be held to account by angry pals ‘but you said!..’ if I go back on it. I still plan on eating meat if I feel like it. I can imagine going to a nice restaurant where the only veggie thing is a risotto or pasta and cracking at a soft, well sourced piece of slow cooked beef. But, in terms of cooking at home, it’s veggie all the way.
And I love it! We decided to sign up to Hello Fresh (a delivery service that provide you with exact ingredients and recipes for 3 meals a week) to get a few more ideas of healthy veggie meals and I’ve been heavily plundering Plenty by Ottolenghi and Veg everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and fully embracing a lot of middle eastern cooking.
It does take a bit of shift in thinking about your meal when you remove meat from the centre of it. I find myself making vegetable smorgasboards or different small tapas style veggie dishes that add up to a full dinner. I’ve got a lot better at making sweet potato and aubergine curries and rib-sticking pulse based stews. I find myself stuffing halves of butternut squash, courgette or aubergine with parmesan, breadcrumbs and pine nuts and filling the other half of the plate with a huge salad. And when all else fails and you’re hungover or short on time there’s always the fall back of veggie sausages and mash.
The main question for me was about how much protein I would be getting, I’ve been getting into weights at the gym as well and need to keep my protein intake up without resorting to eating cheese with every meal. That’s where a post-workout protein shake comes in handy and where eggs, tofu, quinoa and nuts become your best friends. I find the My Fitness Pal app on my phone really handy for checking the macro nutrients of stuff and actually get a genuine kick when it tells me I’ve reached my protein goal for the day. Oh January, you healthy beast.
I’m not sure how permanent this will be or whether, over time, I’ll reintroduce ‘happy’ meat or fish but I do know that trying it for a month has really changed the way I look at how I cook and week days will remain veggie for sure.