I had always flirted with being a vegetarian back in school especially after having attended the local environmental fair one year. I decided that meat was murder having seen the slaughterhouse conditions and sad eyes of farm animals in the pictures on the leaflets thrust into my hand as I walked around. My mum wasn’t having any of it and continued to cook meat and not make an exception and I remember not really being that super committed as soon as I could smell a roast chicken. It’s hard making these decisions when you’re 15!
How I Became a Vegetarian
Time moved on and I tried a few times to become a veggie but it would always end up with me becoming weak and listless because I just cut meat out – I didn’t substitute it with anything. I was young and naive and didn’t understand much about nutrition. Very slowly I started to cut red meat out and started to get into curries, beans and rice dishes. that seemed to help and by the time I was at university, I was only eating chicken and fish. Quorn had started to make a bit of resurgence back then as well and I had the pleasure of always being fed that at family barbecues. Back then it tasted like cardboard.
During my time at university I got food poisoning – the worst I have ever had in my life. Over the course of a few days I lost nearly a stone and it took weeks to start eating properly again. I was wary of the culprits that may have caused this although I could never pin down if it was some chicken I had eaten or not. I never looked at a McDonald’s chicken sandwich in the same way again…
One evening I got back from work and opened the fridge to a small that only Satan could have manifested. The frozen chicken legs that I had placed in there that morning has spent the day defrosting and unbeknownst to me, they had already started rotting whilst frozen. THE SMELL WAS FRIGGING DISGUSTING. I threw the lot away and vowed never to eat meat again and have stuck to that pledge for nearly 16 years.
Being Vegetarian While Pregnant
So as soon as you tell the midwife you’re veggie during your first few appointments, they start to obsess about how much iron you’re apparently not getting. I was an exemplary patient as each time my blood results came back, there was no issue with low iron. I put it down to the amount of spinach that I was eating plus the shit-tonne of dark chocolate. I felt tired for the first trimester. So much so that I was asleep on the sofa every afternoon after work, but that didn’t last and I found energy again. I seemed to be growing baby fine.
I had gotten used to have small portions of salmon and tuna every now and then (moving to pescetarian) to help top up protein levels, but I was looking to try and reduce that as had learned that small amounts of fish contain mercury, so really had to up my game in the old lentil eating department. My farts become lethal. Just a word of warning to any men who haven’t yet lived with a pregnant woman: we snore, we burp and we fart. A LOT.
Choosing to Raise Baby Vegetarian
I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed our daughter until she was around 6 months old. It’s nature’s ultimate convenience but then I had to start to think about the food bit. Initially we gave her some food to play with and try a bit of baby-led weaning but decided definitely not to give her meat to try. I just don’t cook meat in the house and even Josh doesn’t really cook it because I don’t buy it. If he wants to eat meat he’ll buy it in himself or have it for lunch while he’s out so it seemed against our own routine to introduce meat into mealtimes.
We started out on hummus, avocado, sweet potato, cheese, fruit, bread, yoghurt, broccoli and various veggies as a start to baby-led weaning. I also started to supplement her diet with formula as I reduced breast feeding. She got plenty of the right stuff in the first few months. By a year I had added Quorn and the occasional bit of salmon plus she had started to feed herself lentil dhal or pasta with a spoon. She’s had a great variety of food in her short 2 year life and we encourage her to try everything but rely on a vitamin supplement in case she gets fussy and doesn’t want to eat nutritious food. Beans on toast is also a great treat that ticks all the nutritious boxes too.
Very occasionally, and this is usually Christmas time, we see if she fancies trying a bit of turkey. She usually spits it out which makes me a proud mum. Don’t get me wrong – when she is older and can reason why we don’t eat meat and still wants to eat meat, that will be OK. In my heart of heart I hope that she will continue to love animals as much as she does now and understand the connection between them and food resulting in wanting to be a veggie. I’ll be so happy.
Thanks for reading. Would love to hear below if you raise your own kids veggie or vegan. What do you feed them? Anyone have kids that started to eat meat? Would love to hear your story below…