6 Reasons To Go Vegetarian

I’d been playing with the idea of only eating vegetarian food for some time but the enjoyment of flesh eating was just too strong.

4 months ago, if I’d been faced with this array of meat sticks, I’d have been salivating and fighting to get my teeth sunk in. Now I look at the picture and just feel nauseous.

What happened to me?

I really don’t know how it happened but I do know I stopped eating meat in the middle of January.

I started the year with a week long Zen retreat in the Netherlands where the food was entirely vegetarian. It was good, wholesome food, lovingly prepared and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t had any desire to eat meat since coming back. In fact, the opposite; I simply haven’t been able to entertain the idea of putting dead animal parts in my mouth.

There was no moral imperative, no health reason, no nonviolent conviction.

I’d like to claim it was an example of my superior will-power finally overcoming my resistance, but that’s not the truth.

I suspect brain-washing!

Do yourself a favour – switch to vegetarian food!

After 3 months without meat I’ve noticed some surprising things; advantages I’d not considered  before.

I’m not in the business of persuading people to change. I prefer to tell my own experience and trust everyone to make their own choices in life. My experience would not, of course, be the same as yours. In any case I’ve been a meat eater for 45 years with no problem, so if you want to carry on, all credit to you.

So these are some of the things I noticed:

1     Getting more done

I need, on average, one sleep cycle less than I did on a meat diet – about 90 minutes. That’s an extra 23 days to spend annually doing fun stuff, meaningful stuff or just to take an extra long breakfast (vegetarian of course). That’s a lot of gained time! Typically I wake up at 6.00am with no assistance from alarms or external aids.

What would you do with an extra 23 days of waking time every year?

2     More money

I spend less on food.

Vegetables, rice, pulses, pasta and most of the other stuff I buy are cheaper than meat. I eat out more than I should and in restaurants the vegetarian options are cheaper 95% of the time. I haven’t tracked exact numbers (I know I used to be an accountant, but that’s going too far). A very rough estimate is that I save around €15 ($20) a week, which is €780 ($1,040) a year – more during festive holidays!

What would you do with an extra €780 a year?

3     Faster decision making

I eat out quite a lot, mainly from laziness and a lack of enjoyment in day to day cooking. Most meaty eateries have a limited selection of veggie options so choosing what to eat is much faster. The downside is I miss out on variety but the upside is I’ve got more time for chatting.

This might not seem like a big advantage, but personally I never much enjoyed having to choose from a range of delicious sounding meals. I always thought I was missing out on what I didn’t choose and other people always made better choices than I did.

Now I don’t even look at the meat pages in a menu.

4     Better health

My digestion system is cleaner and I feel better physically.

I don’t buy much organic food mainly, for practical reasons, so I do still put chemicals in my body from mass produced veggies. I’m pretty sure, however, that the amount and harmfulness is less than with meat.

5   Moral superiority

I’ve included this point in the interest of honesty, and I’m not at all proud of it.

I have an ego. There, I’ve admitted it.

Becoming vegetarian might not feed my body with everything it needs (I’ve not paid much attention to the nutrition side yet) but it sure does feed my ego. I (as in my ego!) have this idea that being vegetarian is spiritually and morally superior.

Of course, it’s complete bullshit, but I can think of more damaging ways to massage my ego!

There’s also the environmental benefits as apparently meat production is a huge contributor to greenhouse gasses (see this article). Not sure if my ego is getting the massage or my higher self, but it has a feeling of ‘rightness’ about it that eating meat never gave me.

6     Exploring new taste sensations

I’ve been a meat eater for 45 years. I said that already, didn’t I?

For the first half my life I’ve tasted pretty much all the usual meats on offer plus some strange ones (crocodile, tapir, bear). I reckon I’ve worked my way through a fair selection of the meat dishes known to mankind. Some I like and some I even adore.

But there’s a time to stay and a time to move on and there’s a whole new world opening in front of me exploring creative ways to cook veggies and other stuff.

Any other benefits you would add to this list?

And finally …

I’ve been looking for an opportunity to include somewhere a delicious recipe from my dear friend Nadia , over at Happy Lotus. I don’t imagine a better opportunity so I present you with (fanfare!) …

Vegan Bigos

This an adaptation of a traditional Polish dish, not usually associated with a vegetarian diet. Nadia insisted I give credit to her husband for the recipe so if you do try it, drop over to her site to say ‘thanks’. Even if you don’t get your apron out and start splashing sauerkraut around, still take a look over there – it’s a great site!

For a serving of 2:

  • 1 jar of Sauerkraut (about 1L or 1 Kg)
  • few Bay Leaves – larger ones are easier to pick out after cooking
  • Italian Seasoning mix (tablespoon)
  • Marjoram (tablespoon)
  • Vegan Hotdogs or Sausages (about 0,5 kg, cut up into 2cm long pieces)
  • Shittake Mushrooms – but can be any kind (couple handfuls if dry or about double that if fresh – soak dry ones in water for about 15 minutes to make them soft)
  • Black Pepper – freshly ground has best flavour (to your taste)
  1. Put the Sauerkraut, Bay Leaves, Italian Seasoning, Marjoram and Black Pepper into a medium or large pot and depending on how wet it is, you may need to add a bit of water (1 cup should do for now). Stir around gently so that the Bay Leaves don’t break up.
  2. Cover the pot and keep it at a low boiling point. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot and add little water if needed. Stir every few minutes.
  3. While the Sauerkraut is on the stove, cut up the Vegan Hotdogs / Sausages and Mushrooms.
  4. When the Sauerkraut has been on the stove for about 15 minutes, stir in the cut up bits, cover the pot and cook about 10 more minutes on medium, stirring every couple minutes.

NOTES:

Try to get the most simple Sauerkraut you can find – the one we use only contains cabbage and salt with no other ingredients like vinegar etc … If you don’t want a lot of salt, the Sauerkraut can be rinsed in a colander before cooking. Also, this recipe assumes that the Vegan Hotdogs or Sausages are pre-cooked and not frozen. Pick out the Bay Leaves before enjoying :)

Additional suggestion from me (Ian) – you can consider adding around 8 roughly chopped dried plums (take out the stones before chopping!) and half a glass of red wine.

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