Things I've learned being a teenage veggie in a household of meat-eaters
Written by Izzy Price
Four months ago I finally decided to become a vegetarian. It’s something I had wanted to do for a while, but the idea of it affecting the rest of my family prevented me from making the change. I’m 16 and live at home with my parents and younger sister, all of who are basically carnivores. As I’m lucky enough to have parents that are willing to pay for (and normally cook) my food, I worried that it would annoy them if they now had to prepare two meals every night and buy extra food just for me. I needn’t have worried, as it is so much easier than I could possibly have imagined. Here are some of the things I have learnt being a teenage veggie in a family of meat-eaters...
Freezable meals are incredible. Every few weeks my family cooks up a large portion of curry, chilli or bolognese and freezes it in small pots so we can just microwave it after school or work and eat it with some rice or pasta. This makes it so easy for me as I can batch-cook my own food and defrost them when I need them, and it doesn’t affect anyone else’s meal. It also saves so much time and means I can fit in dinner just before Rangers.
Fresh meals are also simpler to adapt than I had thought. A big part of most meals are vegetarian anyway, so it's often only simple swaps that have to be made. Swapping sausages for vegetarian ones, a lamb shank for an omelette or a chicken wing for a stuffed pepper really is easy, you just need to make sure you plan what everyone is eating each night.
My family don’t actually mind eating veggie meals. My family have been so much more open to trying new things than I expected. My Dad hates most vegetables and his diet primarily consists of meat and bread, yet since I became a veggie, he has started experimenting with meat-free meals. He won’t become a vegetarian any time soon, but in an attempt to find a meal my whole family will all eat, he has tried many vegetarian meals, some of which he actually likes! ‘Green things’ still aren’t his favourite food group, but if served a vegetarian enchilada, he will eat them without a complaint.
I can cook. A few months ago, most of my meals were cooked by my mum, and almost all were planned by my parents. Cooking pasta and defrosting a sauce was about the extent of my cooking, but having to cook my own meals has taught me a lot of vital skills about planning meals and cooking. I am still a pretty terrible chef, but having to cook for myself has forced me to improve my cookery skills, as well as get a little more independence - two things I’ll definitely need in the future.
Being vegetarian is so much cheaper than I had realised. I had assumed many of my meals would be the same as before, just with a vegetarian alternative to the meat version like Quorn nuggets instead of chicken. It sounds ridiculous, but it wasn’t until I started researching vegetarian meals that I realised the majority of veggie meals actually consist of mostly vegetables! Quorn and similar meat alternatives are great, but they can be pretty expensive, so I only ever have them as a treat. Most of my meals are actually based on various beans and lentils, and they are as cheap as they are versatile.
Vegetarians don’t sit around all day dreaming about bacon. I honestly believed I was going to seriously struggle with the idea that I could no longer eat sausages or roast chicken, but I really don’t miss meat that much. To be honest, I still get a bit jealous sometimes if I see someone hacking into a big, juicy steak, but I haven’t experienced a moment where I’ve seriously thought about quitting. I have tried so many no-meat meals that I never had a reason to explore before, and there’s so many more I can’t wait to give a go!
Have you been inspired to try a new diet? Got a tip, trick or failsafe recipe for anyone wanting to give something new a go? Let us know on Facebook or on Instagram!