Food and Drink / Food Challenges

10 Days Vegetarian

I’d love to say that my decision to go Veggie was born out of some noble desire to save the animals. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and if I had to butcher the cow to get my juicy Ribeye I’d probably be merrily munching on broccoli and apples for the rest of my life. But while ever my steak comes neatly packaged courtesy of Mr. Supermarket, I am content in my denial. In actual fact, it was the documentary Cowspiracy that put the idea of a Vegetarian lifestyle in my mind. This eye opening documentary credits 51% of global greenhouse gases to animal agriculture, and suggests that cutting down our personal meat consumption would vastly reduce our carbon footprint. ‘Climate change’, I hear you cry, very noble indeed! Well not so much – I care about the environment, but Cowspiracy’s executive producer being Oscar winning, devilishly handsome, devout veggie, eco-warrior and all round good guy Leonardo DiCaprio might have had something to do with it. So on the off chance that Leo does in fact realise I’m the perfect candidate for Mrs. DiCaprio, and I find myself needing to pick out a vegetarian wedding breakfast, I thought I better get some practise in.

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Inspiration.

Now a couple of disclaimers are necessary. First, while this challenge was meant to last 2 weeks, I called it off after 10 days, 1) because I apparently have no willpower and 2) I was heading off on a weekend away to Scotland and wanted to be free to indulge. Secondly, I started this challenge at the start of the New Year, when I also decided to try and lose some weight and eat healthier. Basically this meant I cut out a lot of deliciousness so bulking out my meals with carbohydrates was something I was trying to avoid. There are tonnes of delicious veggie options, but trying to keep my diet low-calorie meant I struggled to justify using pasta, potatoes and cheese in most meals.

I am also a strong contender for the world’s pickiest eater. The list of things I wont eat is a lot longer than the foods I will, including eggs, beans, tofu, falafel, chickpeas, cauliflower, cucumber, couscous, rice and avocado to name a few. Some of the most fabulous ideas, recipes and Instagram posts would have been fantastic meals to eat during my veggie challenge, but picky old me wouldn’t eat them. So this is by no stretch of the imagination an accurate experience of vegetarianism, and if you’re considering it please please please don’t be put off by my disastrous attempt!

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The subject of every one of my dreams during the following 10 days.

The original idea of this post was to do a day-by-day diary of what I was eating. Looking back over the 10 days, I actually stopped eating a lot out of frustration of not finding anything I particularly wanted. Instead I’ll give you a run down of the best (and worst!) bits for each meal.

Breakfast

I’m not a massive breakfast eater, favouring an extra 15 minutes in bed over the most important meal of the day (sorry Nana). On the weekend of my 10 days, I was content in munching on natural yoghurt, with honey, granola and chopped fruit. This is pretty standard though, so I really didn’t struggle as I’m not one for a fry up at the best of times. During the week I kept myself content with grabbing a Jaffa cake on the way out – I know, I do ‘healthy’ eating right. After a tiny panic over whether the orange jelly contained gelatine on day 5 (it doesn’t, and Jaffa cakes are actually vegan!) I found this to be a pretty decent breakfast, and would recommend it to fellow veggies and meat eaters! Breakfast does definitely lend itself to a vegetarian way of life though, so stock up on your smoothies, fruits, cereals, toast and be happy!

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Delicious, nutritious and veggie friendly!

Lunch

Lunch was a little trickier, especially in these winter months I find myself craving something super filling to see me through afternoon. I’m also not the most organised person in the world so when I should have been planning and packing a lunch the night before, I fell a little short. Our local supermarket salad bar was a great tool, with a great selection of fresh salad items and pasta with tomato and basil sauce. I couldn’t help but think how much it could have been improved with a few chicken satay sticks though. Soup was also a great, tasty option, so despite missing my chicken sticks a little I was doing okay.

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Recipe here

Tea

Tea was when it all went wrong. Seriously wrong, to the point that on the fifth day I actually had a minor breakdown over a roast chicken. Day one was great, I was full of optimism, encouraged after my fairly painless experience with a veggie salad box, and prepared a delicious vegetable stir-fry with goats’ cheese. This became my staple over the 10 days. I ate it on its own, I ate it with noodles and sweet chilli sauce, I ate it in wraps – its delicious, but after 10 days I was pretty sick of it. I tried broadening my mind to new culinary treats such as a three-bean enchilada. Well it turns out, I don’t like beans at all, and trying to eat this just made me sad, wishing I’d left the beans out in favour of cheese. I did LOVE the vegetarian lasagna, with spinach and ricotta and would definitely make that in future – it’s also a really easy recipe which is always good!

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The lowest of the low had to be a disastrous attempt to make vegetable fritters. With the potential to be quite a nice dinner, I grated a tonne of veg, combined with an egg and enough flour to give it a less-omelette-y texture and shallow fried until golden brown. And it was horrible. I grated far too much carrot and the entire dinner just lacked any taste. Plus the mixture looked like sick, which was a really difficult image to get out of my mind. From this point on, I stopped looking forward to dinner, bingeing on crisps and biscuits – vegetarian yes, but not exactly a meal.

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I actually lost 3lbs during my week of vegetarianism, so it was a nice kick start to a January diet, but I think that was a lot more to do with the fact that I’d given up on eating anything but cereal for tea by the end of the week, and couldn’t muster up the energy to prepare anything tasty for lunch, than a testimony to the diet itself. As a picky eating, meat loving, carb avoiding girl, I’m not sure being Veggie was the greatest plan. So if Leo does show up in Yorkshire with a diamond for me maybe I’ll try again, but until then, pass me the steak!

By Ellie Howley

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