Many years ago a friend of mine said, being vegetarian isn’t just about what you don’t eat but also what you eat. And at the time I was high fiving him simply because he had put into words something I had found to be a massive challenge. It was hard to be eating healthy vegetarian food. Being vegetarian in Ireland then basic meant you were fed pizza or something made with chicken or fish. These two weren’t considered meat then. At least not by the chef of the canteen of the place I was working in. And if you were vegetarian that meant you ended up eating the ‘two veg’ of the standard ‘meat, two veg dinners’. Thankfully lots of things have changed. Nowadays you still might struggle if you are a vegan but most places know how to cater for vegetarians anyway. It is often referred to as the ‘healthy option’. As gluten intolerance seems to be quite common now you can even get vegetarian and gluten free as a combination.
I still find myself struggling with the label of being a vegan, vegetarian or in my case a pescatarian because it simply doesn’t really describe what you eat. Eating healthy goes way beyond making a statement whether or not you omit certain kind of foods from your diet.
There is so much more to eating than quelling hunger. There is the whole aspect of enjoying eating because it tastes good for one. I happen to grow some of the vegetables I eat in my garden and that in itself is a fantastic, enjoyable experience.
I also enjoy shopping for food. I like going to markets and buying local produce. I am all for organically grown vegetables. I respect and admire people like Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall who started out with the River Cottage cookbooks. Through his books I gained an appreciation of not letting things go to waste unnecessarily. He takes using, re-using and recycling to an all different level.
Eating healthy vegetarian is refuelling for me. It is important for me to manage my nutrition and energy levels. I exercise a lot and have started to run half marathons this year. I can’t do that successfully if I don’t make sure that I cover my calorific requirements and my protein intake (as well as minerals, vitamins etc).
I have come to enjoy cooking! Truth be told, I wasn’t much of a cook for many years. I was quite happy to use ready made sauces, ate lots of bread and baked goods. I was a regular customer of vegetarian take aways and didn’t mind using kits and or convenient foods provided they were vegetarian. I was eating vegetarian but not necessarily eating healthy vegetarian food. It is only since I’ve gone on this diet that I read every single label. Knowing what I eat gives me great pleasure and as I have become a proficient cook I enjoy even making regular condiments myself. I own my food and I like it!
I think there is a lot of truth in the words we are what we eat. I want to be the best me that I can be so it it only natural that I take care to eat the healthiest food I can find and prepare.
This was one of my very first all home grown vegetable salads. I took the picture over two years. It’s a super tasty salad and has lots of variety and nutrition. See if you can name all the ingredients and leave a comment with your best shot!