The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Vegetarianism in our meat-orientated culture

Georgia Welch explores the difficulties of an anti-meat lifestyle in today’s society

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As someone who has previously consumed meat on a regular basis, the process of going veggie in our meat-orientated society was testing. Not only is the transition of cutting out meat difficult, but concocting vegetarian recipes that are convenient, healthy and tasty can be a challenge—particularly when you’re a busy student on a budget.

Over the summer I gradually phased meat out of my diet, to the point of total vegetarianism. So far, the process has been rewarding, but certainly not without its difficulties. As any student reading this can relate to, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Keeping on top of your studies, carrying out household chores, exercising, socialising with friends, having time to yourself and preparing a satisfying meal from scratch is no mean feat.

It’s a common stereotype that students live on takeaways and convenience food, their culinary skills barely surpassing the ability to boil pasta—yet this definitely isn’t always the case. I, for one, relish the satisfaction of cooking a delicious meal for myself and friends, but often struggle with finding the time and patience to do so.

In my pledge to become vegetarian, I have found that the secret to success is in planning ahead. Cooking meals in bulk and freezing them means I spend less time in the kitchen and don’t find myself settling for convenience food too often. And leftovers can go in the freezer, so I waste less food, too.

One of the biggest struggles of becoming a vegetarian is the scepticism you will likely encounter from friends and family. It doesn’t take long before you grow weary of people donning their pseudo-nutritionist hats, telling you how hard it will be to consume enough protein and iron as a vegetarian. But believe it or not, it is possible to eat a balanced diet as a vegetarian and get all the right nutrients. Beans, eggs, cheese, lentils and yoghurt are all high in protein, and are just as readily available as meat. So take that, cynics!

“But we were designed to eat meat!” is another argument I’ve been faced with. Vegetarianism might not be for everyone, but assuming that everyone should eat meat because “it’s natural” is a poor argument to oppose vegetarianism. Why should what is considered natural outweigh personal values?

Despite the adjustments I’ve had to make to my diet during the process of cutting out meat, I really haven’t missed it as much as I imagined I would. Not only do I feel healthier, but I’ve also become increasingly more creative in the kitchen now that I’ve been experimenting with meat-free dishes. If you’re thinking of going vegetarian, or even just fancy the idea of trying it out, I’d highly recommend it. I’m sure you’ll find it far easier than you first anticipated, just as I did.