Vegetarian?

Nine years ago a friend who lived on a farm told me some nasty stories about animals on the farm. I don’t remember the stories, but the next day I was a vegetarian (eating fish because my mum told me to).

Now I’m wondering about my principles. I’ve considered eating meat again a few times but have always been too proud to face the ‘I told you it wouldn’t last’ comments from friends and family. This time I’m seriously considering it, though.

Yes I’ll be teased, but I’ve been teased for the last 9 years for being happy to eat potatoes that have been roasted alive. I’m thinking about it because my husband and I are hoping to start a family in the next couple of years and eating meat will give me those things I’m lacking such as iron during pregnancy. If I crack eating meat now then I’ll be well prepared.

My husband’s face last night was an absolute picture when I divulged this information to him. He was absolutely ecstatic that meat might be regularly eaten in our home. However we both then went on to say that we’d only have meat once a week! That’s partly because I love eating vegetarian food and partly because of the cost of meat.

What I’m looking for is not teasing but guidance from anyone who has made the move from veggie to carnie! Will the fact that I eat fish and seafood mean my body will have less problems consuming meat? What’s the best meat to start with? How do you cook meat?!!

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8 thoughts on “Vegetarian?”

  1. We don’t eat meat that often (though neither of us are vegetarians) for different reasons including the price of meat and the effect that rearing animals to be used for their meat has on the environment. I suppose that just means we are more fussy about the meat that we do eat but it also means we are prepared to pay a bit more for it when we do have it- and it tastes nice!

  2. Hello there!

    Cool to hear your plans (even if not imminent). To start with, a BALANCED healthy vegetarian diet is perfectly adequate during pregnancy. However, unless you have altered your diet from what I remember, you would need to eat more pulses, seeds, nuts and dark greens to provide you with the full range of nutrients you need. If you and hubby (hello!) decide that meat isn’t needed then you could chat to your doctor.

    If you do want to start eating meat it seems, from a very brief scan of relevant forums, that it’s sensible to introduce it slowly and move from tender white meats through to red. So, for instance, chicken breast would be a good place to start. This could be incorporated into a stir-fry with vegetables.

    Your husband knows how to cook meat – ask him to show you, bearing in mind these important rules:

    1) Chicken – needs to be cooked through until juices run clear / flesh is white rather than pink (like salmon it turns from being slightly transluscent when uncooked to opaque when cooked). Risks include salmonella. Methods: frying (as you would TVP) allows you to check if it’s done by cutting a small piece in half; poaching and steaming produce a very tender piece of meat as can roasting/baking.
    2) Pork – like chicken, pork has to be cooked the all the way through. Good in stir fries, sweet and sour sauce, grilled (chop). Roasted pork joints go a long way (good for guests on Sundays + sandwiches) and are very tasty and tender. Risks include parasites.
    3) Lamb and Beef. These meats can be eaten from raw upwards i.e. they are considered better when slightly ‘undercooked’, when the flesh is still slightly pink rather than brown.

    Advice on meat:
    i) Get small quantities of high quality meat. Get friendly with your local butcher as they’ll be able to advise you on which cuts are good and how to cook them well.
    ii) Get a good book on meat. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘The River Cottage Meat Book’ is meant to be excellent. This will explain a lot of the variety in meat cuts and cooking methods. Chicken’s pretty straightforward. Other meat comes in different types of cut depending on where it comes from in the animal. This is why it’s handy to know your butcher. A good way to save money is to go for the cheap cuts, but be aware that these will need to be cooked differently. For example, a sirloin steak takes about 5 minutes to fry or grill whereas a beef brisket takes upwards of 4hrs to braise. This can work to your advantage, especially if you have a slow cooker and like casseroles. Or, if you don’t know what you’re doing you could end up cooking a stewing steak like a sirloin as I once did. Tough. Tough and stringy.
    iii) Let meat rest once cooked. This allows the tasty juices released during cooking to be reabsorped.

    Give me a call if you need any other advice/tips.

    1. Ah Ben, a wonderful array of advice! Thank you! I was going to go for chicken first but hubby said to go for a ‘nice’ meat (probably means steak!) so I don’t get turned off meat again immediately. But I’ll take your advice!

  3. If you already eat fish then the best meat to start with by far is chicken. However you cook it the key is to keep it moist, don’t overcook breast meat till dry. Legs and thighs are more moist and cheaper. If you like Italian food try this (recipe is for 2): Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Season 2 good sized or 4 smaller pieces of chicken (drumsticks or thighs are fine) with salt and pepper then lightly brown in the heated oil. Cook half a diced onion in the pan till slightly soft. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, 3/4 cup of chicken stock and whatever veges you want (e.g. sliced carrot, celery, pepper), a dash of lemon juice (optional) and a good sprinkling of Italian herbs (dry is fine but fresh basil and parsley are even better). Simmer till sauce has thickened and veges are cooked then serve. Check chicken is cooked by piercing with a sharp knife. If it’s done the juices run clear. I suggest serving with mashed potato, or wet polenta if you feel really Italian. Happy eating!

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