Going Vegetarian in January: Why You Should Try It
This blogpost is written by Eve Rowley. Eve is a third-year SALC student and in this blogpost, Eve will share her experience of a picky eater going vegetarian in January.
If you’re like me and have been considering going vegetarian/vegan, whether it’s for environmental, humanitarian or health reasons, or you just fancy a change, then January is the perfect opportunity to go for it! Not only is it a great New Year’s resolution but being the annual vegan month (Veganuary as most will know it) there are significantly more vegetarian and vegan options to try out in restaurants (the SU and lots of other places around campus do veggie/vegan Mondays where you can get 50% off!), and more importantly for a student budget, in supermarkets!
Whilst I decided I couldn’t quite commit to changing my diet to strictly vegan in January, I thought I might as well give the vegetarian diet a try! As a picky eater who tends to pair every meal with chicken, I knew going vegetarian would be a challenge, but surprisingly I’ve found it much easier and actually enjoyable than expected! Admittedly, waking up hungover on New Year’s Day with the realisation that I couldn’t order chicken nuggets was slightly disheartening, but once I started cooking and trying new recipes, I found the whole experience a positive and definitely rewarding one!
If you’re wondering where to start, there are loads of amazing recipes online, and if you’re more of a visual learner, TikTok and Instagram are great for veggie/vegan meals and are where I found most of mine! Looking these up before going food shopping is also a good idea so that when it comes to cooking you don’t feel lost and unmotivated. If you’re not a massive fan of vegetables (like me) then meat supplements are a great option; I found Aldi was amazing for these, particularly in January as they bring out a wide range of options/alternatives. If you’re considering going veggie or vegan more permanently, getting some of these in the freezer just in case they discontinue some of the less popular items is worthwhile. One that became a staple for me was a stir-fry with Aldi’s fake crispy beef which is so quick and easy to make with the pre-made stir fry ingredients, sauce and noodles:
Quorn mince is also a great freezer essential (and a good protein supplement), I used this for a veggie cottage pie, but you could also try tacos, chilli and lasagne!
Otherwise, I tried loads of vegetable-based meals which had foods in I had either never tried or thought I didn’t like, and they turned out to be some of my favourites! If you don’t mind spending longer in the kitchen, a veggie lasagne with lentils, tomatoes and plenty of vegetables is delicious and great for leftovers! I found the recipe for this on TikTok (@emthenutrionist).
If you want something easier and quicker, however, a personal and student-friendly favourite is the Quorn nuggets, and a universal favourite of mine and my friends are the Richmond veggie sausages which are SO good!
With the huge number of vegetarian and vegan options available, particularly now, as this diet choice becomes more and more popular, going vegetarian/vegan isn’t as difficult as it might seem. This isn’t to say there weren’t times when I struggled with a plant-based diet, and actually occasionally forgot about it (I ordered a meal at a café with chicken in it which, embarrassingly, I had to send back when it came to the table as I’d realised, I was actually vegetarian now), but overall, I hardly felt restricted at all in terms of food/meal options. I also found it helpful to ask those of my friends/family who are vegetarian/vegan what kinds of meals they make, and their opinions of certain meat alternatives for inspiration, which fortunately for me, was easy as I live with two long-term veggies! Another convenient factor which I found helpful in this process was the fact my boyfriend had also agreed to go vegetarian with me in January, meaning that a lot of the time we made food together, making cooking and the overall experience more enjoyable! If you know someone else in your family or who you live with that wants to try going vegetarian/vegan, this is a great idea for keeping each other motivated and excited about cooking.
Whilst I still have two weeks left of the original challenge I set myself for going vegetarian in January, I am even considering continuing this as a more permanent diet after having enjoyed it so much! It’s important, however, to remember that reducing your consumption of meat by even a small amount is great and not to be too harsh on yourself for slip-ups! This could even mean following a mainly vegetarian diet and having one/two meat meals a week, or whatever suits you best! I personally took part in vegetarian/Veganuary as part of my aspiration to live a more sustainably conscious lifestyle, but the reasons for doing so are endless and personal to you!
As someone who is both known for being a picky eater and mostly unwilling to try new foods, I hope that my experience with vegetarianism will inspire you to try some vegetarian/vegan meals during January and onwards, as it can be a rewarding, and more importantly, fun experience!
Thank you Eve for taking the time to write about your experience. If you’re a student interested in contributing to the SALC Student Blog, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.