So for November, as part of World Vegan Month and because it’s something I’ve been considering for a while now, I went pescatarian. Now you might think that’s a bit of a flop…it’s World Vegan Month and those guy don’t eat anything that comes from, is produced by, or contains animal so all I’m really doing is replacing red and white meat with fish and still eating a load of cheese and eggs! You might be right, but I didn’t eat fish every meal and only had the occasional salmon bagel or tuna salad so it was still a challenge but I wanted to make sure it was a doable challenge and I’m pretty pleased to say I got through it fine.
Here’s some of the things I’ve learnt while trying out the vegetarian way of life:
1. MEAT DOESN’T MAKE A MEAL
Meat has often been referred to as the main feature of a meal rather than just an ingredient when it comes to deciding what to have for dinner. I’ll often ask James or visa versa what he’d life and get ‘chicken’ or ‘mince’ as a response rather than the meal itself. I guess it’s been habit so becoming meat free has actually helped us to improve our creativity and effort when it comes to cooking. As a result we’ve actually thought about what meals we enjoy as a whole like Lasagne, Curry or Stir Fry and every time the meat hasn’t been missed.
I must admit I’m lazy when cooking meat, there’s rarely any overnight marinades or hours of rubbing in salt and spices (if that’s event a thing) so I’ve never found that the meat really adds any substantial flavour as everything is usually in the sauces etc so when you remove said meat you don’t lose any flavour and actually get more by adding a variety of vegetables, lentils, beans or cheese.
2. VEGETARIANISM IS CHEAP
There’s no doubt we’ve saved money this month and that was one of the reasons I first considered cutting down on meat after arriving in Australia as it really is quite expensive. I had thought that James would continue eating meat for his evening meal so we’d only be saving on my share but he’s been quite happy without so it has ended up saving us double than i expected. Ingredients that help to bulk out a meal like sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, beans and lentils are definitely a much cheaper option and can go a lot further. As we’ve been making full meals like lasagne, soups and curries these have also stretched to 2 meals each rather than our usual chicken and veg options that only feeds us once.
3. EATING OUT IS A TINCY BIT HARDER
We eat out a lot and there’s no shortage of places to go when you’re after vegetarian but when our usual dining experience consists of sharing pork dumplings and beef Pho we ended up cutting out going to restaurants since James put his foot down when it came to ordering vegetarian options at his favourite food places.
We did venture out a couple of times though, the first night was at a Lebanese place called Agraba on Errol Street, which in hindsight might have been the worst option since mezze dishes like chorizo and Moroccan lamb are my absolute favourite! That’s not to say the dishes I did have weren’t delicious, Falafel is always good and I tried Shanklish – a soft herbed cows milk cheese – I was just very aware of what I was missing and it was the first time I felt like I wanted meat.
The other time we tried our luck at a Korean style place where James actually agreed to share non meat Gyoza [p.s WAY better than dumplings!] while we each had out own bowl of goodness! Things were actually easy here as I was eating fish so no trouble with the menu there. James had beef Bibimbab, complete with raw egg and I had the spiciest Seafood soup I have EVER had but it was amazing.
4. I LOVE PUMPKIN / BUTTERNUT SQUASH
Honestly can’t get enough. We’ve made soups from the both of them (sweet potato and squash was probably the better) and I have quite often roasted a whole heap to then add to salads and curries. They also happen to my favourite colour, orange! Anyway, they’re awesome and I would happily eat them every day 🙂
Also, over here they actually call squash ‘Butternut Pumpkin’ so if you’re reading from down under you probably think I’m crazy referring to it as squash. Aussies would know squash to be a small yellow vegetable that sort of resembles the shape of a diamond and taste more like courgette (sorry, zucchini).
5. I’M NOT A BAD COOK/CHEF
I’m actually not bad at putting a meal together. I think I was at an advantage since I was already a chickpea, lentil and bean fan as well as being partial to a bit of tofu so since these are essentials for giving texture and protein to vegetarian dishes I found a whole heap of new ways to use them. One of my favourites is probably chickpea and coconut curry, which I added pumpkin to of course. I also haven’t made lasagne for years so took the opportunity to create one with layers of eggplant, courgette and flat mushroom and it came out pretty decent although I think I need to work on the number of layers. James got his chef hat on and rustled up my first ever gnocchi dish, yum! I also made an Instagram special and arranged a colourful plate of veggies…#eattherainbow! So being vegetarian definitely pushes you to be more creative with your food choices whilst increasing your veggie intake and saving you some dollar…win win!