The challenges of going vegetarian

cute lambWhile I’m trying to live as much as I can off my garden I’m also trying to adjust my diet to exclude meat which as I’ve been a meat eat all my life is quite an adjustment, it’s simple to knock up some Teriyaki Pork while you warm some sake.

I really don’t eat a lot of meat it’s not an everyday thing and I’m not cutting meat out for animal welfare reasons, I’m doing it because 90% of the soya grown is for animal feed and growing soya is leading to deforestation which will eventually effect the global environment.

If I’m buying meat I have a few simple rules.

I don’t eat anything from a deep fried chicken shop and I might sound like a snob but the growth of the chicken shop on the high street is as damaging and as big a social statement as the rise of betting office.

I don’t eat Burger King or from other burger joints, to be fair making your own burgers is pretty simple and there’s something nice about making your own and frying them off while sinking a couple of bottle of Peroni.

I will not eat Dutch veal, you know that veal where the animals are kept in the dark and fed milk, however, I will eat British Veal which is produced to far more ethical standard.

I buy British and I buy from Ginger Pig who in my opinion are without question the best butchers in London Town. Their butchers are knowledgeable, friendly, good at what they do, they give great service and to me that’s very important, almost as important as the quality of the meat, the standard of the animals conditions and the traceability of the produce. If I can’t manage to get to Borough Market my local butcher’s pretty good and they have food traceability and then if I’m really desperate I look for the Union Flag on supermarket products but in reality supermarket meat really is scraping the bottom of the barrel in meat terms.

As far as I’m concerned if the animal has been managed well and the meat hasn’t travelled thousands of miles then why not eat it. I don’t buy the expensive cuts I love an Ox Tail stew, I like to make my ragu using lamb neck or in a tagine, I adore belly pork and pork heel, I love tripe and while people might turn their noses up at offal I do believe that if the animal is going to die to feed us we should eat it all, fried liver and onions really is a simple treat and it’s these tasty cheap bits of meat that keep me forever failing at being vegetarian.

Being vegetarian also demands a better use of herbs and spices, it’s a totally different way of cooking it needs more thought. To be honest my moussaka is the stuff of legend, strictly speaking it’s not mine I was gifted the recipe by and ex-girlfriends Greek granny who was a total magician in the kitchen and I just can’t find a meat substitute and there in lay the problem.

What do I replace meat with and how far do I want to take it?

Is a stock cube an animal product in the same way butter is or does it count as meat because an animal had to die for that to be produced?

This period of meat free living has been my longest I lasted five months but over the weekend I caved and had a full English complete with the oral magnificence of black pudding.

Living without eating land animals I do feel healthier, I feel cleaner on the inside, I have better energy levels, I sleep better and my skin has never looked this good to the point I’m sure I’m losing wrinkles.

I like meat, meat is nice but the benefits to living without it far out way the joy of eating it and giving up meat is far more difficult than giving up smoking.

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