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Stepping into the vegetable patch

The month of January is increasingly becoming known as #Veganuary. That means to shift your diet for a whole month and only eat vegan food, cutting out all food that comes from animals, including diary and eggs. That can be a big ask of many and I wanted to try something less onerous in the spirit of my motto that no one can do everything, and we can all do something – I decided to go vegetarian for all of January. Here is what I discovered.

 

New flavours and colours

I have for a longer period of time been what some like to call a flexitarian, meaning I have been cutting down on my meat intake, doing Meat-Free-Monday and so on. I also introduced this with my children, which at first was met by some resistance, but now is just part of what we do for dinner at mum’s. To go fully vegetarian didn’t seem like a massive step and I was excited about trying it. So, New Year’s Day – vegetarian food it was!

Cooking and eating vegetarian for the whole of January has opened my eyes to lots of new food. Being a vegetarian is not just about eating salads or meat “substitutes”, though I must say I really do like vegetarian sausages and prefer them to the pork original, it is so much more. In fact, I would say that the meat substitutes (perhaps apart from the veggie sausages!) are the low-down in vegetarian food for me, I much rather have the dishes that are created as fully vegetarian not aiming to imitate “normal” food. For example, how does chickpea and roasted parsnip curry, halloumi stroganoff, butternut squash and sage risotto, roasted cauliflower with parmesan, roasted hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, sound?! I could make this list much longer – but that would make me really hungry! Find some good websites, you can search for ‘vegetarian food’ in your browser, I personally like bbcgoodfood and a couple of Swedish ones. You will discover lots of flavours and colours with your vegetarian food!

Healthier

Eating vegetarian can make it so much easier to get your five-a-day. I am certainly finding it a much healthier choice. There are numerous articles and studies pointing to the benefits of more fruit and veg in your food and more importantly for me – I can feel the difference. Bloated tummy – bye, bye! And a vegetarian diet makes me feel sufficiently full, not overly so as I find that meat can do to you. Speaking of my tummy… be aware that a vegetarian diet may have lots more fibre in it than what your body is used to, in particular you might want to be careful with the cauliflower, broccoli and a few others, at least in the beginning. Fibre gets your tummy going! That’s all I am going to say.

Going vegetarian for January had a positive spin in making me think what else I chomp on and as a result I am currently testing what it is like to ditch refined sugar for a month.

To a low carbon future

Very often being “sustainable”, as in considering your environmental, social and financial impacts in all that you do, have clear win-win’s as the environmental, social and financial benefits go hand in hand. Often in the short run and sometimes, we have to consider the bigger picture and think more long term to see all the benefits. But take eating vegetarian for example. I have discovered that buying vegetables, whether fresh or tinned, for my vegetarian dishes is cheaper than meat, as just discussed it is better for you – and you reduce your carbon footprint. So the planet benefits too. In fact, there was a study not long ago, which highlighted that veganism(completely removing all food from animals, including eggs and diary) is the single best way for an individual to reduce her environmental impact on earth. It can reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. That’s a lot. This is because of farming and agricultural impacts on our planet to make the food that we eat. And it is not just reducing carbon emissions it is also about reducing global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. Avoiding animal products is far better than trying to buy sustainable produce according to this study and, so the researchers say, it even has a bigger impact than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car. Wow. You can read about it here.

Now it is February and I am still going strong on my vegetarian diet. I am not sure that I will never ever eat meat again, but my preferences have shifted, and I do think that a future where we will eat no meat at all could be quite possible. And my tummy? Yes, it has calmed down.



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