Ms ZiYou Veggie

I love celebrating and recognising milestones in my life, so today we have a celebration of my 25 years so far as a veggie. Now although I’ve touched on it a few times I’ve never written the whole post on my vegetarianism and how it has endured. So why not now?

I was brought up a meat-eater

As were most people in the early eighties I expect, my family were carnivorous. It was just the norm all around. Not knowing anything else as a young child I started eating meat. Even to this day, my Dad still serves meat, potatoes and two veg for dinner each and every night. Serving spag bolt is something a bit exotic. Even in 2019.

Now I wasn’t the best meat eater truth be told. I had a few texture problems. Gristle, gristle I hated the gristle. And the fat, I could get used to the fatty bits. And the bits that were too chewy, I couldn’t cope either.

But then I started questioning eating meat

I was a questioning child. Always keen to know more and asking why, why, why? If I received an answer I didn’t think was logical I started questioning more. And as I was disliking the actual eating of meat I was trying to understand why I had to eat it.

Being stubborn, strong willed and questioning is not a great recipe for an easy to raise child. Why do I have to eat it became the question. After a few refusals, my frugal and food waste averse parents started to realise this might be a real thing. Then slowly but surely I began to stop getting served meat.

Ethically I also did not like the idea of eating animals. They were living beings with personalities and feelings. Now I know they are born to enter the food chain, but that didn’t make it any easier for me. The idea still repelled me.

And cut off beef, then pork and chicken

And so I gradually stopped eating meat and animals one by one. Starting with beef, this was easily accepted as there were lots of BSE scares going round at this time as well. The menus started evolving and red meat was served less often, and I just had the potatoes and more veg. To be honest to this day, I still enjoy this sort of meal with lots of veg.

My gradual evolution to veggie continued with different meats being cut out, with the rest of the family still eating them apart from me. And so it began with small steps.

And finally fish

Compared to the speed of reducing my meat consumption, it took me much longer to cut out fish. As by then it was a big part of my diet, and my parents were worried about meeting my nutritional needs. Overcoming these barriers and dealing with their concerns took a lot of effort. I had to do lots and lots of research, and many library books were used for this purpose.

Then a true vegetarian

Once we had ascertained that I could physically survive, and even thrive without eating animals it was accepted that I could be a vegetarian. While being veggie was more difficult in those times given I was a child and we ate at home 99% of the time it was easy to evolve the menus to accommodate me.

At this time I started adopting the label of vegetarian and felt that I was a member of an unique club. Which made me excited. Inside I was contented I could live by my values.

Now 25 years a veggie

Ms ZiYou veggie skewers

Nowadays I am still a proud veggie and have never ever regretted this decision. Which to be honest is one of the very few things I haven’t yo-yo’d about over the years. I guess it’s endured as I still fundamentally can’t get my head around the idea of eating animals and it still repels me.

Being veggie has been part of me for so long it’s now something I consider normal and part of me. And so do the others around me too.

It was harder initially

In most places in the UK, you could find places with one veggie item on the menu. Although in the more provincial towns, this was not always the case. France was well France. Everything comes with meat in it. Even dishes that are normally veggie, such a macoroni cheese , as I learned one year, come with ham. America was OK in big cities on the coast, but everywhere else served meat, meat and yet more meat.

When I travelled, I tended towards self-catering as food was so much easier to deal with. Local markets and supermarkets always stocked loads of veg and carbs. Which could be quickly transformed into a tasty meal. And there was always my backup choice of pizza. Even the most carnivorous nation has not yet served me meat on a Margarita pizza!

But is now cool today

Looking back, the change has been gradual. You used to have to search out the health food shops to get veggie sausages and homous. Now they are both commonplace in all supermarkets even the German budget ones.

And taking to further, veganism is now even more popular than vegetarianism. I still eat eggs and milk, hence I am veggie not vegan. Actually, truth be told most of my main meals are actually vegan. Vegan mains are always tasty and appealing to me.

Yet not necessarily healthy

Ms ZiYou Veggie cake

I would never pretend being veggie is healthy. Most desserts are vegetarian, as are all cakes. And chocolate. As an owner of a very sweet tooth, I love cakes. And ice cream. And chocolate. Basically, all sweet things are good by me.

Morevover, I’d never advocate a veggie diet for healthy or weight loss reasons. It just isn’t the right prescription and you can still scoff plenty of crisps and cakes, which many of us veggies do.

What I eat as a veggie

To give you a flavour, here are some of my common meals.

Breakfasts

  • Porridge with jam
  • Eggs and toast/beans

Lunches

  • Egg Sandwiches
  • Scrambled egg, veg and sweet potatoes
  • Salad sandwiches
  • Salad with grains
  • Veggie soup

Dinners

  • Veg curry
  • Veg stew/casserole
  • Pizza
  • Mexican
  • Beans and eggs

Snacks

  • Chocolate
  • Cakes
  • Fruit
  • Wine
  • Cider

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • Are you vegetarian/vegan?
  • Would you consider going veggie/vegan?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

22 comments on “25 years a veggie

  1. I’m semi veggie and will have veggie meals often. Remember being in Belgium asking for a cheese sandwich and the waiter offered ham when I said no, he looked like I was an alien. Congrats on 25 years milestone. Veganism too far couldn’t last a day without chocolate or a cup of tea.

  2. I’ve definitely noticed an increase in vegetarianism amongst my friends over the last 5-10 years. I’m still a meat-eater, but my fiancee and I are slowly reducing the amount of meat that we buy and eat each week. The biggest motivator for me is to reduce our carbon footprint.

    1. Same!

      I actually tried to go vegetarian/vegan due to my environmental concerns.

      My family…..were nowhere as near supportive/// It became basically impossible and I just gave up out of exhaustion. Much easier nowadays, thankfully!

  3. I’ve been veggie just over 11 years now and never looked back. People sometimes ask if it was hard or if I miss anything but it doesn’t even cross my mind really. If anything I now find the thought of eating meat quite repulsive.

    The philosophical and ethical debate around meat eating has already been won by the vegetarians, unfortunately habits and cultural norms are hard to change and there are a lot of vested interests in the meat industry. But I do believe eventually society will mature and turn against meat eating, just as it did with racism and sexism (though of course there is still further to go in those areas).

  4. Hi Ms ZiYou, proud 90ish% vegan, for over 30 years, here 😊 Only 90ish because I still cook animals for my carnivore friends when they come over, or when I go to their home – I believe in being respectful of others’ ways, especially when I know they mean well. Also, I eat this way for health reasons, and everything I’ve read says there’s no clear health advantage to being 90 to 100% vegan. And it makes my social life a lot easier. I grew up eating lots of animals in my French upbringing (boy do I agree with you France is NOT a veggie-friendly country, especially outside of big cities, even now) so it’s always been important to me to not alienate others about this. Kudos to you for 25 years! 👍

  5. So interesting, and congrats! My boyfriend has been a vegetarian for 19 years, so I adopted a plant-based when I met him about six years ago. Recently, I’ve reintroduced meat/fish due to health issues, but I’m hoping that when my body has re-calibrated, I can return to a mostly vegetarian diet. So many vegetarian/vegan recipes are just so good!! 🙂

  6. If I were less lazy (that is, if I enjoyed cooking) I’d probably be a vegetarian. The idea of meat makes me squeamish if I think about it too much. Since I don’t enjoy cooking, I just try not to ponder it overly.

    I’m not a huge meat eater. I have maybe 3-5 oz of chicken in my dinner each night and that’s about it. But I just don’t have it in me/am too picky an eater to go full vegetarian I think. Good for you for sticking to your morals though!

    1. Hi Abigail – it does sound like you are a good candidate to try out vegetarianism one step at a time. Nowadays there are as many veggie easy to make options as meat based.

  7. Wow, that’s impressive, especially since there is so much delicious Filipino food that is meat-based. Our oldest daughter is now pescatarian so now I just make cabbage nilaga instead of chicken nilaga for her. But for me, I love the dishes with meat!

  8. Another vegetarian here! Probably adopted the term ‘vegetarian’ about 20 years ago, but drastically cut down earlier. Congrats on your 25 years! It’s definitely a lot easier now in the UK being veggie than when we were younger. Same with travel – used to get given meat a lot by mistake, especially in places like Spain. I recall someone once telling me that something happens at about 13 years in that seems to make meat seem particularly repulsive, and indeed, that happened to me! At this point, I didn’t like meat being kept on the same shelf as my food in the fridge and I felt a bit uneasy about using pans that have been used for meat. I can bare it, but I’m uneasy about it.

    More recently, I have made the move to nut milk (except when having tea/coffee out – still feel I have an issue with asking/inconveniencing people!) and from butter to olive oil spread (when not already in a product e.g. a baked product). The milk thing I was increasingly concerned about health-wise and ethically over the last few years, but then going through the experience of breastfeeding, i just didn’t really want to drink another animal’s milk again who was constantly milked. Maybe writing it out like this is what should make me take the plunge and completely cut it out of my diet! I eat cheese occasionally but rarely at home (mainly paneer). The hardest I find is eggs. I would feel unhealthy without them (I feel my body needs eggs somehow), but ethically I do have an issue with it. My body feels otherwise healthier without meat products.

    I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth (no overlap in our snack list!), but my weakness is crisps!

    1. Great to hear your experiences Firelite – I do love soya and nut milks – they make great porridge – but I’ve never found one that I like in tea. My dentist told me about one of those vegan docs, and I know if I watched it I would not drink milk again. Which would leave me a bit protein deficient until I sorted out my diet.

      Enjoy your crisps – you sound like a perfect snacking companion as we love opposite things!

  9. Been vegetarian for over 30 years. It has definitely become a more mainstream in that time, but I am still fairly rare in my age group/gender. For me, it was partly driven by not wanting to cause unnecessary suffering in sentient creatures but also the environmental impact.

    Like you much of my diet is actually vegan – but still have small amounts of cheese, yoghurt and eggs (and occasional ice-cream). I probably won’t ever go vegan as some of the meat/dairy substitutes like soya don’t agree with me and I’m not over keen on heavily processed foods.

    Avoid Tunisia if you want a vegetarian pizza. They all come with tuna there! I suspect that’s likely the result of pandering to tourist expectations. It is very hard to find vegetarian options when eating out, but they have a wonderful fig roll like sesame cake which almost makes up for it.

    1. Hi Greencat – yeah icecream is another one I love. Although vegan icecream is coming along, some of the soya ones are quite nice, if not a little pricey so far. You made a good point that the soya and nut milks are really quite processed as well. Something to ponder.

      My, tuna on a pizza sounds weird. And on a veggie one is even more bizarre.

What do you think?