Aggy is the assistant manager of a phone shop and has been vegetarian for a few years now. She moved to Fraserburgh, Scotland, from Lithuania when she was 14 and tells us about her life as a vegetarian.
I always wanted to be vegetarian when I was younger, I loved animals, but as I grew up my parents taught me that “meat is part of your diet, you have to be strong, you have to drink milk to have strong bones.” In Lithuania most of the meals come with meat. We do eat a lot of vegetables but they are served with meat and we grow up hearing “you can’t be a vegetarian, to be healthy you need your protein”. When I got older I started researching this because I was eating meat and veggies and trying not to eat carbs yet I wasn’t really satisfied, I was still hungry.
Because I am a big foodie and I like to try and eat different foods, I thought I could never stick to a vegetarian diet because most of the “fancy meals” will include meat. I was always pushing back.
I decided “I’m not going to try and be vegetarian, I’m just going to try to eat less meat” so I started looking at recipes. I had tried being vegetarian before and always failed: I didn’t want to assign a label to start with, just see how it goes one day at a time. I started cooking more vegetarian meals and quickly I realised I hadn’t eaten any meat, I’ve not missed anything and I’m satisfied: I’m not hungry and I’m feeling better. I had had problems with my stomach and now they have gone away unless I’m drinking alcohol or eating junk food. Since becoming vegetarian I feel much better and when I go to the gym I don’t feel like I have no energy. Before I would go for a run and be tired after five minutes.
The only thing that is hard is travelling. I went to Thailand with my boyfriend and they didn’t have many vegetarian options so that was the only time that I found it was much easier to be a meat eater.
Now I find that I cook much more than I used to, because I always used to buy prepared meals. I work until 6 o’clock, come home around 7, I just couldn’t be bothered and bought prepared meals. Now I’m vegetarian and there are not as many prepared meals that you can buy, I find myself making my own meals with less processed food.
It’s probably easier to be vegetarian in Lithuania to be honest because we eat a lot of vegetables as well as the meat, whereas I think in the UK people eat more processed food and eat out more. People don’t cook as much in the UK and I see a lot of people buying processed food to put in the oven, but growing up my mum would cook everything from scratch so I find it much easier to find a vegetarian option that is home made. If you’ve never cooked in your life and always eat processed food it’s much harder for you to get used to being vegetarian but because I ate vegetables from a young age, even though I didn’t like them, I will eat anything now.
Aggie’s top tips!
♦ Try not to replace meat with fake meats. Every vegetarian when they become vegetarian has done that because they are so used to that taste. That doesn’t work, so I’ve replaced meat with certain vegetables like mushrooms or chickpeas so think of a similar textured vegetable instead of fake meats because they are still processed foods.
♦ Don’t push yourself. Its OK if you mess it up. If you were on a diet and ate a piece of cake you wouldn’t just going to quit when you messed up.
♦ Being vegetarian, you might eat something that you didn’t know contained meat like gelatine so don’t get upset if you eat something not vegetarian. You can be vegetarian or vegan for a long time and still eat things by accident. It takes a long time.
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