A meat free month: week four

It’s over! No more restrictions, no more unrequited cravings. Meat is back on the menu. If you’re just catching up, Harry and I gave up eating meat in January. If you want to read about it here’s week one, week two and week three.

Whilst we have never been the type that eat meat every day, we’re still aware that having any meat in our diets has a huge environmental impact. At the same time a lot of people sing the praises of a plant-based diet for its health benefits, so I wanted to see if it would make me feel any different after a vegetarian month. Finally, I wanted to be forced into making some different veggie meals and reignite some creativity in my vegetarian cooking.

All in all, the month didn’t go quite as I thought it would. I thought it would be, quite frankly, a piece of piss, but that was not the case. Read on to hear how the final week went.

End of week four

Both were treats, but I could hardly let those eggs go to waste, could I?

This week I was certainly keeping half an eye on the finish line. The bacony light at the end of a celery tunnel. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, I’m not very good at feeling restricted. Saying that it wasn’t an uncreative week in the kitchen. I made a Thai curry, which is a rarity for me, but given it was just based on whatever I had in the fridge at the time it shows it’s another good one for using up scraps of veg and reducing food waste. In other food waste news I had some leftover egg whites and broken egg yolks (separated) from an experiment that will be coming soon to Mildred’s Kitchen, which were turned into mayonnaise and chocolate mousse respectively. Both were treats, but I could hardly let those eggs go to waste, could I? I also had some fun playing with Ottolenghi’s slow cooked mushrooms, which came from this Guardian article that has some other interesting slow cooked vegetable dishes that I’ll be having a go at in the future.

Week four dinners:

  • Mushroom risotto
  • Thai curry with broccoli, mange tout and pak choi
  • Pasta with tomato and caper sauce
  • Beetroot, goats cheese and quinoa salad
  • Slow cooked mushrooms with coleslaw made with homemade mayonnaise
  • Sweet potatoes and spinach with a tahini dressing
  • Spicy cauliflower soup

Now you may be asking the question, did you gorge yourself on meat at the end of this vegetarian month? And I tell you dear reader that yes I did, which now having thought about all the reasons why meat is terrible for the environment doesn’t make me feel all that great. Me and Harry ate chicken wings and giant burgers one evening and followed it up with ribs the next. Not our healthiest weekend and way more meat than we would usually have. One concern I had was feeling awful after eating meat, or at least sluggish and heavy, but I guess that a month just isn’t that long – my body still remembers how to process it. Any discomfort seemed to come entirely from greed and the amount that I ate, not necessarily from its content.

In conclusion it has certainly been an interesting month and I’m glad I went vegetarian for January (apart from that tiny slip up in week one, but we won’t mention that). However, without the intention to scrap meat from my diet completely I’m not so sure the restrictive nature of a month off from meat completely worked for me. I did make sure to plan my meals and I got into the habit of trying some interesting recipes, which I will keep up in the months that follow, as it definitely helped to bring more imagination into my vegetarian cooking. On the other hand the feeling of not be allowed something tends to make you want it even more, which I definitely felt during January. On top of that any health benefits I may have felt from going vegetarian were not stark enough to make a difference in just a month.

So will I do it again? Probably not. But I will be reducing the overall amount of meat I eat and continuing to push myself creatively in the kitchen, so it wasn’t all in vain.