Recently, myself and some colleagues from Therapy challenged ourselves to go veggie for National Vegetarian Week. And to be honest, it wasn’t that hard. As a Filipino who was raised in an environment where eating meat was part of the culture, I thought I would struggle or even give up as soon as I saw a “6 wings and chips for £2.50” sign. Before I knew it, the week was over and I didn’t even realise I was still eating green until someone asked me about it.
The main reason why it was so easy to be vegetarian was because the option was available everywhere. There was never a moment when I went shopping or ate out that I had to resort to a portion of fries or a side salad. Having never considered going veggie before, I had preconceived ideas that it was going to be a hassle, it would be expensive or that it would be hard to find good vegetarian food – having to pace up and down the grocery store to find something healthy and green or to rip apart a pub menu to see if they have something veggie that I would enjoy. In fact, I was genuinely surprised that it wasn’t.
Bizarrely (if you knew me, you’d understand), I became very excited about veggie food. Rather than being excited about good places to eat, my mindset shifted more towards what good food I could make at home. It felt like discovering a good series on Netflix; it opened a window to new things for me. Even though cooking became more enjoyable at home, I still wanted to find good veggie places to eat. Thanks to London’s rich and diverse culture it wasn’t hard to find restaurants that were specifically vegetarian. You’ll be surprised to know that East Ham has a hub of vegetarian restaurants and cheap takeaways — mostly oriental and Indian.
One thing I definitely noticed about being vegetarian was how little caffeine I was having. As the days went on, the number of cups I consumed decreased. So I did some research and found that having a high vegetable diet results in a more energetic lifestyle. I’m not implying you suddenly want to go for runs in the morning or you start doing cartwheels to work, but the higher carb diet with lower fat intake means you have more energy to burn through the day.
Whilst being veggie, I became increasingly curious about the benefits. Not only does it make you more energetic, it also reduces your chances of getting a heart attack by 32%! Since you’re consuming better quality fats, you actually reduce the amount of artery plaque that builds up in your arteries, meaning you have a body that functions a lot better. But, the biggest thing I found out about being vegetarian was how good it was to the planet — animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of global warming, producing more greenhouse gases than ALL the vehicles in the world combined. If America alone reduced meat consumption by 50%, it would be equivalent to taking 26 million cars off the road. So by being a vegetarian, I unknowingly became an eco warrior.
So for the sake of the planet, and your health, try being vegetarian for a week! (I won’t ask you to devote yourself, because truthfully, I’m never gonna have the willpower to give meat up completely).