Since beginning a weekly Riverford vegetable box scheme my wife and I seem to be gradually going vegetarian which came as something of a surprise. We have been heading that way for a while but it is not something that I actually expected to happen having eaten meat all my life. I have previously written about the wonder of Riverford here: http://tinyurl.com/j58aep6 and if you have any interest in lovely, organic vegetables grown without the use of pesticides and eating seasonal produce that reconnects you with the changing year then I can’t recommend them enough. The interesting thing for me is that we haven’t made a choice to stop eating meat, our diet has changed without us really thinking about it, and now that it has it feels like it is for the better and I am glad that we have. We even bought a Riverford meat box to enjoy their organic, free-range produce but even that has lost some of its appeal and has sat in our freezer for many months.
During this period our diet has become more varied, we are eating more beans, pulses and grains along with our veggies, we cook a significantly wider range of meals (including tofu, something I had previously dismissed) and we have rapidly reached the point where the thought of eating meat is much less appealing than it used to be. Another driver of this change is my wife’s fondness for the Minimalist Baker blog (http://minimalistbaker.com/) and the subsequent purchase of the author’s cookbook and many times when we need a recipe, an internet search leads us to her blog and the meal that we end up cooking. So far, they have been universally excellent and I recommend it as a source of useful recipes.
We still do eat meat and I think this will continue for a while but the idea that it is required for a satisfying meal has also become odd. We cook the occasional roast chicken or a slow roasted joint and duck gumbo remains our favourite dish but then we began to lose our taste for bacon and, yes, I am aware that many say that they could never give up bacon, that is the one thing that keeps them carnivorous. We use a little for cooking quiches or to top pizzas, but I can now see a day when we won’t even eat that. Brunch now consists of eggs, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, and toast with sausages also having been dropped from our diet.
Going vegetarian is not only good for you but it is also, in my experience, cheaper and it leads to a more varied diet. It is good for the environment and if you try to buy only organic meat and dairy, like we do, then it is good for the health of the animals involved. You are also contributing less to the varied crises that we face from the intensive farming of animals including the huge production of CO2 that this industry requires, the overuse of antibiotics in industrial farming and the destruction of natural habitats for the grain required to feed them. All in all it is a very good thing and getting away from the idea that it needs to be a choice you make to do all of these things is also good.
Currently, my wife and I are not fully vegetarian, and we don’t we ever actually intend to be, but eating meat is already something that we indulge in much less and it may be that we never make that choice but that it happens anyway. Eating meat may be something that we only do when we are in a restaurant or at a party where there is little choice. Actually, eating out has become more difficult due to the paucity of choices for vegetarians with often only one option on the menu. Oh, and it has also been suggested to me that I go vegan but I can never see that happening for my love of cheese is far too strong. I know that you can get vegan alternatives but the loss of all of the cheeses I love would simply be too much, I think. We shall see.
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