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Trying to give meat the chop!

As part of the recent National Vegetarian Week, Tamworth Herald reporter Helen Machin decided to abandon beef for broccoli and cod for cauliflower, and give up meat and fish for a week. Here she explains how she got on, and why she won’t be joining the vegetarian club…

‘I can’t believe the lengths you will go to just to get a story!’ No, sadly not the words of a proud editor, but the horrified response of my son on hearing that mum was going vegetarian for a week.

Joseph is as confirmed a meat-eater as tyrannosaurus rex – as a toddler, when other kids were whining for sweets in the supermarket, he was nagging me to buy steak and pork chops. And I’m a dedicated meat eater myself.

But I have been vegetarian once before, for a whole year when I was 17. Can’t remember my exact motives on that occasion, but it was probably just another way of a recalcitrant teenager annoying her parents. The lure of the bacon sandwich put an end to that vegetarian phase.

So this time I thought it would be easy enough. It’s only a week with no meat or fish. It can’t be that difficult surely – I love salad and vegetables.

But then, apart from my breakfast porridge there are very few meals in my house that don’t include meat or fish…

Vegetarianism began for me last Monday and it was with a heavy heart that I started the day.

It’s a very busy week in our house and it turns out that I have approximately 30 minutes each evening to feed myself and my young meat eaters.

This makes it all rather difficult as I have no time to leaf through cookery books to find new recipes.

Monday was probably the most difficult day. Bought lots of “veggie” things at lunchtime, including a bottle of carrot juice which was so awful, I had to get a colleague to test it too to verify it’s unpleasantness.

By the time I arrived home from work, I was in a fairly bad mood. Rushed about making cauliflower cheese, burnt my hand on the cooker, leapt back and banged my head on cupboard. Ouch! This veggie business is dangerous!

Half-heartedly ate some of dinner, followed by copious amounts of dark chocolate (purely to revive flagging spirits, you understand).

That was Monday. By Wednesday, I’m getting used to not eating meat and all meals are OK, except for dinners, of which I am eating very little. I seem to be living on constant snacks of nuts and fruit.

But I managed quite well until Friday when I couldn’t stand it anymore. Cracked at teatime and whizzed to supermarket meat counter. Quite ashamed of myself really, but shame not so great as to impede my enjoyment of first ‘proper’ meal for days.

And that was that. It was all over. The surprising thing is that since then I have been eating less meat. Not particularly less often, but just less of it.

Can’t help wondering if I found it so difficult because I am just awkward and always want the things I can’t have! A bit like being on a diet and longing for cream cakes, when actually, I don’t like them and wouldn’t usually eat them.

I can quite understand all the reasons why people become vegetarian, but I have to admit that I won’t be joining the club.

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