No Meat Please

vectored-vegetables

We Are Vegetarian!

For a long time now we have tried – first as a couple and now as a family – to make food choices which are green and animal friendly. Of course we’re no angels and non-organic items would make it into our basket. Or we would buy meat from an unhappy animal. That is the point of the word ‘tried’…

 

I consider myself (a reasonably) green person, but when it came to meat purchases the main concern was that the animal had a good life. Now I learnt that according to Dr Michael Mosley from BBC’s Horizon large scale farms are more eco-friendly due to more efficient fuel and energy usage. They also rear cattle in half the time compared to traditional farms, which means far less CO2 emissions (basically the cows don’t have as much time to belch out the undesirable gas). Of course, this adds to the confusion: it seems you can’t buy ecologically produced meat from an animal which had a happy freerange life.

 

We finally reached the point of confusion over animal standards welfare and packaging mis-information where there is nothing left to do but to become a vegetarian to make sure no unhappy animals are reared and killed on our behalf. We have shyly started a few months ago still relapsing into meat eating occasionally. I am proud to announce that since a few weeks we have been good and not touched a scrap of meat! (Couldn’t escape some chicken stock based soups though…)

 

Vegetarian Toddler?

The biggest concern was of course Little F’s development. I was not sure whether he can thrive and achieve his potential on a vegetarian diet.  I found it very reassuring to read the following statement from the American Dietetic Association:

 

‘’ It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.’’

 

Actually Pescaterian

Ok, I’ll own up. We’re actually technically pescaterian as we still enjoy fish and seafood. I like them too much to give up and in a way I don’t feel safe to let go of this source of protein. I don’t feel I know enough about a good vegetarian diet to remove the delights of seas, lakes and rivers from our diet (where do I get Omega 3 otherwise!?). Who knows though, maybe in a few years we’ll be crazy enough to go vegan!

 

We are very lucky that thanks to BLW Little F eats anything we put in front of him. Of course he has days when he is more interested in one type of food and does not eat another, but overall he chooses a balanced diet for himself.

 

A Few Things Worth Knowing

Ever since we took the veggie decision I have been on a look out for guidelines for child nutrition and tasty vegetarian recipes. So here’s what I found out about the former:

1. You have to make sure there is enough  vitamin and minerals in your family’s diet, especially Vitamin B12, Zinc and Iron. For carnivores meat is a good source of these, but you can also find them in:

a) Vit B12 – dairy products, eggs, fortified products (cereals, bread, yeast extract)

b) Iron – eggs, dried beans, dried fruit, whole grains, leafy green veg, and iron-fortified cereals and bread

c) Zinc – wheat germ, nuts, fortified cereal, dried beans, pumpkin seeds

2. Growing and active toddler needs a lot of calories to satisfy energy needs. Adding olive oil (or other vegetable  oil) and smooth nut butters helps, as a small amount delivers a lot of calories. Don’t forget that your toddler only has a tiny tummy, so calorie dense foods are important to increase calorie intake.

3. Don’t offer your toddler only wholemeal and wholegrain options, too much fibre is not good for a delicate gut. It also fills up the stomach not leaving space for other important food groups, necessary to supply protein, vitamins and minerals.

 

Easy Veggie Recipes

When it comes to recipes I have found a few which I am yet to try, but they sound perfect for the cold evenings ahead. If you try them before me do let me know!

Quinoa and kale cakes

Vegetarian lentil loaf

Vegetarian red lentil curry with spinach

 Roasted vegetables and chickpea pate

 

Conclusion

At the start of the process, of going veggie I mean, I was confused about what to offer for dinner. What do you do when you no longer can use simple formula of meat, starch and two veg? It was a little daunting but very quickly it became a journey of inspiration and discovery.

 

You have to be so much more inventive and imaginative to create a complete vegetarian meal. And I don’t mean just nutrition wise, but also in terms of flavours and enjoyment. Healthy foods all too often seem to bring to mind green, gooey, tasteless mush. That is definitely not what we have for dinners!

 

My best friend and companion is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage: Veg Everyday. A book encouraging carnivores to eat more vegetables in the name of more sustainable global meat consumption. And all done – as Hugh sais – through temptation rather than shouting from the soap-box!

 

 

 

Ps. I have included a link to purchase Hugh’s book, as I admire and support his quest and not because I am paid-per-click or in any other way.

 

 

Photo credit: Nancy D. Regan / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)