I’ve been vegetarian for about 5 years now. This is my second attempt and I seem to be much more successful than my first time round.
The first time was when I was living in Victoria, B.C. I’m not sure why it didn’t work. I think it was because the motivation was more about it being the cool thing to do, and appearing to be concerned about there being enough food to feed everyone on the planet, than from a genuine, spirit-centred desire not to eat meat.
I had this idea that I needed a lot of protein and without sufficient I would crumble and die, and was utterly obsessed with getting enough protein building-blocks in my diet, and not consuming too much cholesterol-loaded dairy in the place of meat! Perhaps my protein needs at that time were higher – afterall I was training for triathlons! In the end I gave up and went back to eating meat.
This time, I’ve approached vegetarianism with a much more relaxed attitude, yet it is definitely a spirit-centred choice. I just went off meat. Several things led up to it, among them a man who threatened to strangle me for eating fish. You can read a bit about that here.
Stumbling upon the film Earthlings – viewed on late night Spanish TV, either sub-titled or dubbed into Spanish, can’t remember which, and which I didn’t speak very well – convinced me I really didn’t want to eat dead animals. It’s probably good I didn’t get the words with Earthlings, as I think had I understood I would probably have been severely traumatised as the images absolutely gutted me. In fact, I didn’t watch the whole thing, I just turned it off and never bought meat again and I’ve never looked back.
Veganism was also part of that first vegetarian experiment, back in Victoria. When producing How She Played the Game, I traded the back cover of the theatre programme with Green Cuisine – the vegan restaurant across the square from the theatre – in exchange for $500 worth of meals; and everyday after rehearsal, and after each show during the run, I would go across the courtyard and have a meal free of charge. The meals were absolutely delicious, especially the desserts, but I never did get used to tea without cow’s milk, or vegan cheese, or not eating eggs. So I didn’t become vegan. Besides, I had no idea why people chose veganism, I thought it was for health reasons rather than ethical reasons.
Then, many years later when – as a happy vegetarian – I moved to Brighton, I was seriously considering veganism. I’d learned enough to be just as appalled by dairy production as I was meat. When I first arrived, I shared a house for a very short while with a vegan. Not only was she extreme in veganism, but she was an utter snob and socially shunned both myself and the other person living in the house – a young Italian woman who had come for a British language learning experience. I was appalled by the vegan landlady’s inhospitable, self-centred rudeness, and bought a litre of milk, six eggs, a block of dairy cheese, and a tub of dairy yoghurt, put them in the fridge and two weeks later moved out.
The weird thing is, the same week I moved in with her, I met a vegan man who seemed to be very interested in me – courting I would say – and then one night, completely out of the blue, he lectured and repudiated me for wearing a leather jacket. Yeah I know – not very ethically vegetarian, but it was given to me second-hand and I’m descended from leather tanners eeekkk – at least I don’t eat meat, and I would never have bought the jacket – so please give me a break!
In any case, both of those vegan social experiences in my early Brighton days convinced me veganism is not the road forward for me, yet I do enjoy a well-prepared vegan meal and am a pleasantly contented vegetarian, and restrict myself to organic dairy and free range eggs from reputable farmers – and there is a difference!
I cook most of my own meals from scratch, though I do buy a few prepared items. And my favourites come from Linda McCartney’s kitchen. Her veggie burgers are to die for, and she puts out good veggie pies as well – though I can never get them cooked properly on bottom without burning them on top! I blame that on my oven rather than her pies. There’s no way the pies would be as successful as they are if everybody got a soggy bottom crust! One of my favourite comfort-foods from her line is Vegetarian Toad in the Hole. My mother made excellent toad-in-the-hole and Linda’s gives it to me just like Mom’s – but without the meat!
So I was thrilled when I found the recipes on the Linda McCartney website. I think my vegetarian cuisine will be greatly expanded by the addition of her recipes! Thank you everybody at Linda McCartney Foods – you are a real blessing.