Sunday 2 January 2011

On being a vegetarian

When I first became vegetarian in 1991, I spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant. Now it is just part of who I am. However I am often interested in others’ vegetarianism and thought you might like to hear about my experiences of being vegetarian. It is more a reflection than a how-to guide, but it may help some people out there.

Why did I become vegetarian?
Soon after I became vegetarian one of my friends asked my mother what she thought about it. Mum replied that I had never liked meat much anyway. So here are a few experiences that made me realize how much I hated eating meat:
  • Finding out that our pet lambs that I fed every day didn’t got to greener pastures – they came to our dinner plate.
  • Choking on a chicken bone.
  • Making chicken stock and being repulsed at handling the chicken carcass.
  • Being relieved I wasn’t out with my mum when she ordered my dad and siblings bulls penis soup.
  • Feeling uncomfortable at a friend referring to meat as a “carcass”.
So you see, I went vegetarian because it felt wrong and horrible to eat animals.

How did I become vegetarian?
Once I moved out of home and had my own kitchen, I began cooking less and less meat dishes. I loved packing my meals with lots of vegetables and discovered legumes and tofu. When I moved into my next share house I found a vegetarian household. Within a month of moving into that household I became a vegetarian and have never regretted it.

Being among other vegetarians made it easier to be vegetarian. It meant I had a safe space in the student house where there was no meat and no hassle. My housemate gave me great support and taught me about being vegetarian. It was here that I learnt to love nut roast. We spent hours sitting around the kitchen table discussing vegetarian food, chewing over ethical issues and having a whinge. We even had a vegetarian Christmas dinner before Christmas day, a tradition that I keep up with my partner today.

I had a lot to learn. This was before you could find any information on the internet so I spent time reading books to understand about reasons for being vegetarian and making sure I was eating the right nutrients. My guides were Vic Sussman, Rose Elliot, Mollie Katzman, Sarah Brown and the Australian Women’s Weekly. You can see some of their books in my cookbook list. I also joined the university food co-op which was another great place to meet other vegetarians.

Coming out as vegetarian
It was hard at first. I felt I was asked the same things over and over. I would answer their questions and satisfy their curiosity and educate them and put up with their jokes. Some people just couldn’t imagine not eating meat! I tired of the spotlight shining on me because I was a vegetarian. But as people began to accept it as part of who I was it got a lot easier. I also become more confident and better informed.

Questions, questions, questions
A sample of some of the questions I got in my early days of being a vegetarian:

  • Why are you vegetarian?
  • What about protein, iron and/or nutrients?
  • If everyone went vegetarian what would happen to all the cows?
  • How can you be vegetarian when you still wear leather?
  • Don’t you just want a taste of my burger?
  • Don’t you miss meat?
  • But what do you eat?
One of my favourite questions was from my 5 year old niece who started asking me about being vegetarian. One of her questions was: "Is apple vegetarian?" It was interesting to see her thinking through what it meant to be vegetarian.

These days I don’t get asked very much as people I know just accept that is my way and I don’t make a big fuss of it. For some good answers, if you are facing such questions, you could check out the Australian Vegetarian Society’s FAQs, the IVU FAQs, Gena's advice on talking to others and Carla’s advice on group meals.

Update: one of the questions that annoys me is: what is you were on a desert island with only an animal to eat, what would you do? For anyone facing this question, what the questioner forgets is that either the animal has something to eat and thus there is other food to eat on the desert island or the animal is starving too and has no meat on it.  And besides chances of you being on that desert island are as slim as you being in a plane crash in the Andes Mountains and eating your colleagues when they die.

Update: another questions I often hear is "why do vegetarians eat fake meat? If they want to eat meat they should just eat the real stuff".  This seems to lack empathy for vegetarians giving up meat for ethical reasons who still live in a world where meat has nostalgia or emotional pull and they miss the taste of meat, favourite meals or even the rituals associated with eating meat (see my comments on Eating with Family and Friends below). Meat eaters expect vegetarians to not try and convert them.  Similarly, we expect meat eaters to have some compassion for us.  It doesn't always happen but sometimes we need to be able to live and let live.  (Or as my grandmother used to say to the Jehovah's Witnesses, "You don't try and convert me and I wont try and convert you.")

Challenges I encountered
Ethical issues: When I first went vegetarian we often discussed the ethical issue of when compassion for animals should take back seat to compassion for people. I had to consider this in Poland when I was treated most kindly by strangers with not much English who offered me a bed for the night and a bowl of beef stew. I ate it because it seemed rude to refuse. It is the most meat I have eaten since I went vegetarian.

The unhealthy trap: Lots of literature says that vegetarians are terribly healthy but unwary vegetarians can put on weight. I went through a period of eating too much rubbish because it was easiest. When main course was mostly meat, I would find myself eating lots of carbs (chips, bread and pasta), cheese and chocolate. I would eat dessert as compensation for a poor meal.

Other foods to avoid: When I first went vegetarian I thought that it was merely a matter of avoiding meat (and seafood which I never liked either). I found out that strict vegetarians steer clear of many more animal derived ingredients. I confess to being a little inconsistent. I make a great effort to avoid both meat stock in soups and risottos and fish sauce in Asian meals. However while I try to avoid other products such as gelatine (found in many yoghurts, lollies and jellied desserts) and rennet (in cheese), I don’t manage to do so altogether. I also will drink beers and wines that aren’t vegetarian, though I would prefer vegetarian ones if possible.

Entertaining: My house is mostly vegetarian. The main exception is the occasional smelly fish or tinned beef chilli that E enjoys on the odd occasion. It is his house too after all. But when I invite people around for dinner or a party I only offer vegetarian food. Usually I am catering but the main reason is that it is a pleasure to have an event that is all vegetarian, where I don’t have to avoid certain dishes.

Cooking meat for others: I have cooked meat for others since I went vegetarian but I don’t enjoy it. When I worked in the UK as a carer for elderly people I cooked steak and sausages but I was never very confident because I couldn’t (wouldn’t) taste the food.

Partner and baby: Once I went vegetarian it impacted on life when I chose a non-vegetarian partner and had children. Fortunately my partner E eats very little meat at home, but I look forward to him ordering vegetarian food when we are out so that I can taste his food. When I got pregnant I thought my vegetarianism might be an issue but it wasn’t. It was only when I started Sylvia on solids that I found more disapproval than support from health professionals. Fortunately by then I was fairly confident about eating a healthy vegetarian diet.

Also see my post on raising a vegetarian child to be tolerant of meat eaters.

Eating out
Eating out as a new vegetarian was tricky. Soon after becoming vegetarian, I was told by a country chef that vegetarians were the bane of his life! Since then I have found that many places are accommodating but I still face situations where I must be creative and either ask for meat to be taken out of a dish (though I usually end up paying for the meat) or combine a couple of starters.

Is that really vegetarian? Some places still baffle me. I have found a slab of chicken instead of tofu in my soup and refused to return to the restaurant because of the devil-may-care attitude. I have been served “vegetarian wanton soup” with chicken in it and been told breezily that yes it is “vegetarian wanton soup with chicken”. Asian food tends to be trickiest because of all the hidden fish. Recently I went to a Malaysian takeaway café that had a long list of vegetarian dishes with a disclaimer saying dishes may not be 100% vegetarian. Upon closer questioning I found that every one of these dishes had shrimp paste or powder and were not in fact vegetarian.

Not all vegetarians are the same: Just as some omnivores prefer chicken to beef, some vegetarians prefer tofu to chickpeas. Yet I find one of my chief complaints about eating out is that often I have only one dish that I can order. It means I don’t have to make any hard decisions but it is sometimes exciting to have the tyranny of choice at a vegetarian restaurant. I am most displeased when the one option has very little in the way of protein, especially when the meat dishes are mostly protein.

Phone ahead: If a meal is being externally catered, phone ahead either to the caterers or to the people making the arrangement. It makes life easier. I have arrived at a wedding and found no one has told the caterer because I forgot to remind my friend. The caterers were great and made me something but I was a bit behind everyone else in my courses. Recently I went out for a group meal at a restaurant where we gave dietary preferences beforehand and the set menu was created with these in mind.

Eating with family and friends
I grew up on a meat and three veg diet. It was quite a challenge when I went home to eat with my mum and dad and siblings when I decided to be vegetarian but my vegetarian dishes now co-exist quite peacefully beside the meat dishes.

Creating new traditions
Special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and holidays often are celebrated with traditional food. Christmas in my family meant turkey and ham and would keep the family fed for days. For my first Christmas as a vegetarian, I made a nut roast to eat instead of the turkey. I have made this nut roast almost every Christmas since then. Not only does it serve me well for the big roast lunch but it also makes wonderful leftovers when everyone else has turkey and ham sandwiches.

My family has quite enjoyed how my vegetarian traditions have diversified their options. They used to laugh at my nut roast but now they enjoy a piece. I sometimes have to jealously guard it so I have leftovers. I also introduced swiss cheese at Christmas breakfast when everyone else had ham on toast.

Roast dinners
My mum makes lots of roast dinners. One of my compromises was to agree to eat roast vegetables roasted in the same pan as the meat. This was because it was far easier for my mum, but she often does such large roasts that she will do a pan of vegetarian roast vegetables. As at Christmas, I often take along a nut roast for an easy protein alternative but my mum will often make lots of interesting vegetable dishes for me to compensate for my lack of meat.

My family has lots of barbecues in the backyard. At first my mum cooked my veg sausages inside on a frypan while everyone else was enjoying the great outdoors. She was trying to keep my food separate from the meat but I felt like I wasn’t able to mingle with my family. After some discussion, we now cook my sausages on the bbq on a piece of foil or separate grill so we can all enjoy the outdoor meal together.

Volunteer to bring a plate of food
If a meal is at someone’s place, offer to take food along. I like to find out what sort of foods are being served and take something to fit in with the theme. This is personal preference. I once went to a Christmas dinner in Ireland where everyone had turkey and roast veg and I had a stirfry. I would much prefer a nut roast with roast veg but I know a friend who would just have a tomato sandwich.

People first!
As Ricki so eloquently says, getting together with family and friends is primarily about the people rather than the food. If the food is terrible or a bit of shrimp paste sneaks its way into the meal (we’ve all been there, haven’t we?), then it is best to remember why you are there in the first place, make compromises for your loved ones and/or have something decent to eat when you get home.

Faux meat
Unlike some vegetarians, I never liked meat a lot and rarely miss it. Vegetarianism isn’t just about taking meat out of a diet. It is a whole new way of cooking and eating. The idea of eating faux meat (tvp, seitan, mock duck etc) does not appeal to me. However there is always an exception. I found myself missing sausages and now eat vegetarian sausages quite often. They are also convenient to take to a bbq.

I realised that I missed sausages because I missed the comfort, the convenience and the nostalgia rather than the taste. Over the years I have found a few great “faux meat” recipes that taste great and bring back the memories but aren’t processed food and don’t taste so meaty as to repulse me. And I do love a bit of vegetarianising meat terms (facon = fake bacon, tricken = trick chicken, and shamburgers = sham hamburgers, chilli non carne = chilli con carne, cheatballs = cheating meatballs).

  • Tofu bacon (or facon): thin slices of tofu marinated in soy sauce, maple syrup and smoked paprika, then fried.   I also love Coconut Bacon (excellent in sandwiches) and Bean and Buckwheat Facon (fake bacon). I have tried alarmingly pink commercial facon and made soggy tempeh facon before but they don’t come anywhere near home made. (Update see my list of 20 recipes using facon that I love.)
  • Nut roasts: I love nut roasts because they are a substantial centre to a meal that takes the place where roast beef or chicken used to be. They have helped me to continue to enjoy roast dinners which were a frequent childhood dinner and still appear regularly on my mum’s table.
  • Vegetarian haggis: I was pleased to find this recipe because my partner E is Scottish and loves haggis. He is happy to eat a vegetarian version (who really wants to eat sheep’s stomach and haggis?) and we eat this every New Year’s Eve.
  • Vegetarian mince meat: Amazing mix of ground walnuts and cauliflower baked with seasonings that made my lasagne look as close to mince meat as anything I have made.  (Another genius idea from Ricki)
  • Vegetarian sausages: it is easy to buy good vegetarian sausages but hard to find a good veg sausage recipe. My favourite are the mushroom, chestnut and couscous sausages but I also enjoy the famous Chorizo Sausages that are made with gluten flour.
  • Vegetarian sausage rolls: I used to just make a nutroast-style filling but I’ve never looked back since discovering Liz O’Brien’s version of vegetarian sausage rolls (thanks to Cindy). My carnivorous brother has said the only reason he would know these are vegetarian rather than meat sausage rolls is that I made them.
  • Vegetarian Hog’s Head: I have never eaten a real hog’s head nor do I have any desire to do so, but I wanted to share this just to say that it is possible to have all the pomp and ceremony of a feast without killing a hog.
As a vegetarian today
Twenty years after deciding to become vegetarian, I am still happy to eat a meat-free diet. In fact, the very idea of eating meat seems so strange to me that occasionally I get surprised at people wanting to eat meat.

I don’t miss meat and I am comfortable eating with the meat-eaters in my life. I still get frustrated at the occasional person or café that does not understand but generally I find that most people and places are very accommodating. Being vegetarian has made my diet more interesting and varied. You only need to browse my index to see just how well a vegetarian can eat.

Useful Links
Unlike when I became vegetarian, there is now an amazing wealth of recipes and tips on the web for those who are interested in a vegetarian diet. Here are just a few places with interesting information:
Also check out your national Vegetarian Society’s website (the UK Veg Society is excellent) and feel free to browse my index of recipes.


  1. (GAH! Just typed out a really long response and stupid internet crashed on me. GAH!)

    Fascinating read, Johanna. Although I'm not technically vegetarian, it's definitely a mode of eating I'm most comfortable with on a daily basis. It's interesting to pick up on (if I'm reading this corrently!) the subtle shifts you've experienced in society's reaction to vegetarianism, as well as your own personal experience with it. Really enjoyed reading your views/history, and also really liked the comment about the house being E's too - if I ever meet someone and share a life with them, they'll have to accept that a certain area of the pantry will be dedicated to fancy chocolates ;)

  2. Sometime in the next week or so will be 20 years since I became vegetarian. I was diagnosed coeliac about a year later and was asked if I'd like to go back to eating meat - but for many of the same reasons as you I was pretty committed to continuing on the vege path. I've recently discovered your blog and am enjoying your writing and your recipes! Thank you.

  3. Kudos. A most wonderful blog post Johanna! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and wish to thank you for sharing it with all of around the vegetarian world.

    May 2011 find you and family happy, healthy and prosperous in all things good!

  4. What an interesting post to start the new year with Johanna - I love finding out the reasons behind your choices. The links are great too - some really interesting stuff out there.

    Although I'm not vegetarian, it's certainly the food I'm most comfortable eating, and I respect your choices, and the way you seem to have chosen to lead by example rather than preach to friends and family about why they should be doing what you're doing. I'm sure your blog will continue to inspire me over the coming year. Keep blogging!

  5. Oh what a fantastic piece, Johanna! And timely to post it at this reflective time of year.

  6. What a fantastic post, Johanna--so packed with information and good advice. Thanks so much for the mention, too. And I STILL have your haggis on my "to-try" list! I love how you look at faux meats--I hadn't thought that what I missed was the concept of something savory, smoky, etc. and not the meat itself!

  7. Like Hannah I'm not technically vegetarian, though do end up eating vegetarian most often. My husband is a very strict Hindu vegetarian, and I don't cook meat at home.

    I wish my folks were as open minded as yours regarding nut loaves and the like. They are rather picky eaters, and it makes the holidays difficult, especially when they come to our place, and I am not able to cook the ham.

    Our solution past years and this year as well has been vegetarian lasagna. Still festive, and not scary for picky eaters. Though my brother still pushes all vegetables to the side of his plate.

    Anyway, thanks, I really enjoyed reading this.

  8. This is a very thoughtful and interesting post - thanks Johanna.

  9. Wow, twenty years vegetarian! Quite an achievement. Although we've not been veg nearly as long I can identify many of your reflections here.

    I think it's very important to remember compassion for people as well as animals, as you mentioned. Sometimes I'd rather appreciate people's efforts and company than be too finicky over trace elements of non-veg ingredients. And conversely, I remind myself regularly that just because something's meat-free doesn't mean that it's automatically an ideal choice for my health, the environment or the people producing it.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, and for seeing fit to link to us in it. :-)

  10. I've been vegetarian for something like 26 years - it surprises me that in some places there's *still* only one option. But, thankfully, eating out has (on average) become a lot easier over the last few years.

  11. Ohohoh, we are telepathic sisters!! I had just started writing my comment here and I saw yours coming on my blog!!
    My best wishes for a happy New Year!
    I really enjoyed reading this post! It is great to read about fellows veggies and to see that we went through pretty similar experiences, especially while eating out and trying to eat healthy!

  12. This was such a great post Johanna and I feel like i have so much insight now into vegetarianism in general. I don't know that I will ever go vegetarian myself but I do strive to eat an 80% vegetarian diet. I love the way it makes me feel to infuse veggies and healthy ingredients into everything!

  13. Thanks Hannah - but what do you mean, just one area of the pantry for fancy chocolates - surely the whole pantry would be for chocolate and regular foodstuffs squeezed into a small cupboard :-) I think there have been some shifts in society's attitudes but hard to know how much is the world changing and how much is me changing

    Thanks Jemma - welcome to my blog - my 20 years is actually later in the year but I have been thinking about this post for a while and had time to post it - but it does seem an achievement, doesn't it

    Thanks Chucky - glad you enjoyed it - hope you have a happy new year

    Thanks C - I am always happy to hear when people eat more vegetarian food even if they do not choose to be 100% vegetarian - glad my blog can send a little inspiration your way

    Thanks Lisa - I actually posted it at this time of year because I finally had time to finish writing the post but you are right that it is when people start to think about what they eat

    Thanks Ricki - you really must try the haggis some time! and I like how you reflect on faux meats - there is a lot more than carcass to love about meat :-)

    Thanks Jenny - glad you have found a dish of compromise for your families - sounds like a challenge but maybe will change over time (am not sure how long you have been bringing your families together) - I couldn't have been so calm about this when I first went vegetarian

    Thanks Cakelaw - glad you enjoyed it

    Thanks Cindy - thanks for your comment which highlights that once you go vegetarian you are constantly faced with dilemmas and choice - it doesn't stop with the one big choice!

    Thanks Rachel - I think the vegetarian options in the UK are far more generous than in Australia. I sometimes wish we had the might of a Vegetarian Society like in the UK - then they would stop putting gelatine in yoghurts!

    Thanks Sweet Artichoke - I love hearing that I am a telepathic sister! Nice to hear I am not alone in the eating out challenges - it is so much easier to eat well at home, isn't it!

    Thanks Joanne - Glad to share some insights - I agree with you about lots of vegetables and healthy ingredients - it just feel so much better!

  14. What a wonderful post :) And so very insightful :) Thankyou for sharing!

  15. Such a lovely thoughtful post Johanna. And I second your on the advice to try vegetarian haggis - it's great!

    From spending a bit of time in Australia and living in the UK, I'd definitely agree that our veggie options are a bit wider in the UK. There are still a few pockets around here though where vegetarians are thought of as 'a bit weird'. Rediscovering this recently has been a bit of a surprise I must admit!

  16. Hi Johanna,

    What a thought provoking post. I'm a newbie compared with you (a mere 8 yrs 8 mths!) but still found myself agreeing with so much of what you wrote.

    My favourite reaction when I tell people I'm vegetarian is "do you eat fish?" to which I reply "nothing with a face" which usually silences them!

    I have to say you're prepared to make more compromises than I would but I completely understand your reasons. For instance I won't touch non-vegetarian wine etc...but I do admit to not asking as many questions as I should when eating out for fear of coming across as fussy or worse, going hungry!

    I also completely agree with your final comments - a vegetarian diet is much more interesting and varied. I eat so many things now that I would never have tried in my meat eating days and if people could see beyond the 'no-meat' banner and just enjoy vegetarian food for what it is then maybe more of them would find it easier to 'convert'.

    Great blog; really enjoy your recipes!

  17. Thanks Lisa

    Thanks Sophie - I agree that UK veg food is better than in Australia - our compensation is that we have more fresh fruit and veg - but when it comes to vegetarian labelling, meals and protein alternatives, the UK is brilliant!

    Thanks Vintage Life - it is amazing how many people say, but don't you eat fish? I hardly ate fish before I was vegetarian and can't stand the smell so often tell people it would be the last thing I would eat if I wasn't vegetarian! Re your comments about compromising on things like vegetarian wine - the labelling of vegetarian foods in Australia is nowhere near as comprehensive as in the UK so it is a lot harder to find out - when I was in the UK I was better at making sure I ate vegetarian because the labelling and alternative was so good there. (Not to say I don't read labels for ingredients but I loved how in the UK there was often a Vegetarian Society label on food)

  18. Excellent post. It struck so many chords with me. I am not 100% vegetarian yet, but I promise I am on my way. Thank you for being an inspiration. Cheers!

  19. interesting and insightful, Johanna! I'm not a vegetarian, but I respect and appreciate your thoughts :)

  20. Johanna,
    I was so delighted to read your post that echoed with me on so many levels. I appreciated your honestly which resonates with me big time. We are so similar in the way we approach food that it makes me smile and wonder how we never met when You were in Scotland.

    Also I have to add, that I totally love the photograph of the sign 'preach not to othrs...', I dislike it when people preach and impose their dietary decisions on others, forgetting it should be a personal and the right choice for the person. I try not to focus on the dietary aspect of a vegetarian or vegan diet on my blog and prefer to extol the virtues of eating seasonal veggies.

    Once again, totally enjoyed reading this post as well as all the others you write (though I don't comment on them all).

  21. I had to log back on make another post Johanna. Your post reminded me that I had been wanting to try the Vegetarian Sausage Roll.

    Well... Tonight I made them. And... all I can say is WOW! You're absolutely correct that they're delicious. I even felt guilty eating them and had to revisit the recipe to convince myself that: (a) it's relatively low calorie and (b) it's vegetarian!!!

    My wife is of English descent and has experience with eating sausage rolls in the UK. She says that the recipe is unbelievably true to the real thing.

    My rolls didn't look as near as nice as yours. I'll blame it partly on my skills and partly on Pillsbury crescent rolls that I used. However, it was absolutely tasty and will become a staple in our house.

    I used low-sodium soy sauce and fat-free cottage cheese to "health" it up a wee bit.

    The 220 Celsius converts to approximate 428 Fahrenheit but this seemed a little too high for me. I had to back it down a wee bit. Is there some trick to baking at 220 Celsius?

    Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

  22. Thanks Ju - that sounds great if you are eating a lot of veg meals

    Thanks Anh - glad to share with you

    Thanks Mangocheeks - it is a shame we didn't meet up when I was in scotland because I am sure we would have loved to share some food but am glad we can meet through blogs and share virtually

    Thanks Chucky - am so glad you have tried the sausage rolls - they are one of my favourite recipes and I love making them - esp for entertaining - they do seem too good to be true - apologies for my oven - I always have to turn it up more than any recipe says - hope to address this soon.

  23. I really like this post, for a couple reasons. You use the words "Coming out," identifying that going public with your vegetarian diet is a whole separate phase, with its own pitfalls. This often seems to get conflating with the process of starting the diet itself, even though, as you point out, it can be much harder.

    Also, you articulate that there is a "gray area" spectrum in when compassion for animals should take back seat to compassion for people. And that "People First" is important. I find this incredibly helpful, since the ethics of vegetarianism very easily tips over into militarist attitudes and proselytizing. Thank you for being a role model for a more moderate approach, without denying the ethics of your diet.

    And lastly, I love this sentence: "I realised that I missed sausages because I missed the comfort, the convenience and the nostalgia rather than the taste." I'm finding that so much about food has nothing to do with the ingredients themselves and everything to do with the *meaning* that said ingredients/methods/presentation styles have for us. Food is more meaning than calories. Thank you for articulating that.

  24. Fascinating and thought-provoking read, Johanna.

    I must admit that I don't think I can give up meat - I like the taste way too much - but I've realised that I couldn't hurt to eat less meat these days for health reasons etc. And certainly, this post made me empathise with my vegetarian friends more.

  25. Interesting to hear about your vegetarian journey. Sounds as though things were a lot tougher in Oz than over here. I became a vegetarian about 20 years ago too although I have never cooked meat for myself, as like you, I don't actually like it very much. I have a hideous memory from when I was 7 or 8 of chewing on a lump of gristle at school one lunchtime for an hour - we weren't allowed to leave the table until we'd finished our meal. That pretty much did it for me. Luckily I was allowed packed lunches after that. Eating out is a lot better now as there is more choice, but I've never really had an issue with not finding food or friends and family not being able to cater for me. I did rather get sick of eating vegetarian lasagne though! Must try your sausage rolls.

  26. Thanks neen - I think the coming out and the grey areas and people first are all connected - people have such firm expectations of vegetarians but there are all sort of decisions about how far you go which are all too present when trying not to offend other people. I think you expressed it better than I have just done!

    Thanks Libby - if everyone just ate less meat then I think that would be a great change to our world - it always surprises me with all the ideas for going green that vegetarianism doesn't get more of a push

    Thanks Choclette - it is tougher to eat out and shop for food in Australia than the UK, except that I find the fruit and veg are better here - I know what you mean about the gristle - the very idea of it makes my stomach turn - the sausage rolls are definitely worth a try - they are fantastic

  27. Hey Johanna,
    This post was just what I needed! I only became vegetarian about a month ago and I'm still getting used to what 'acceptable' vegetarian behaviour is. It does seem like I have something new to think about every day in terms of vegetarian ethics so I'm glad to hear that I'm not being 'that obsessive vegetarian girl' and am instead somewhat normal in thinking things through every day!
    I've struggled to deal with the momentary battle I have with myself when I find myself eating non-vegetarian ingredients at group meals, so the 'people first' concept you've written about really connects with me. I think it'll work well for my situation, and I'm grateful for what you've written because I feel a thousand times better about it already. I hate that I felt a little 'fake' when I did eat non-vegetarian foods at meals, especially when the people I was eating with knew I was vegetarian. Until we get more people cooking genuine vegetarian meals at restaurants all around the world, it seems like this is the most moderate and least 'in your face' way to live.
    Thanks for the great blog, you've really helped me out!

  28. Such an interesting post. I turned vegetarian around the same time as you did, and I still find that when OH (who is vegi also) and I eat out the vegetarian options are still very much an after thought with just one or two basic options available. I love eating in vegetarian cafes (of which there are two in the town where we live here in the UK). But I get frustrated with food manufactueres. The product I'm particularly thinking of which they produce is pasta dishes containing spinach and ricotta - it takes me an age to search the package for the 'vegetarian friendly' symbol only to realise that it's not vegetarian. It just seems to me that they're missing a trick. Although things have vastly improved since we became vegetarian all of those years ago there is still an awful lot of progress to be made in terms of understanding in restaurants / cafes and by food manufacturers.
    Angela x


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