For anyone who doesn’t follow my social media, I have decided to give up meat for Lent. I wouldn’t call myself a huge meat lover, but most of my midweek meals always include chicken and I rarely think of ordering a vegetarian (or fish) meal when I go out to a restaurant.
Every week, I will be posting about how I’m getting on and what kind of new meals I’m eating. The best way to stay up to date is through my instagram: merakibaking. Follow along if you like and let me know if you have any recipes or inspiration on things I could try! This post is about the first 7 days being meat free.
The reasons for wanting to give up meat for 40 days is mostly to prove to myself I can do it. For the past 2 years I have given up crisps for lent and it’s become too easy! So I decided to try go for something a little harder. After the first few days I realised that I have other reasons for giving up meat such as caring about the lives of animals and wanting to cut down meat in general to be more healthy and open up my options on what to eat every week.
The first meal I cooked was a Chickpea Masala. Whilst I’m going for a pescatarian lifestyle for 40 days I ended up making a vegan chickpea masala. Oh my was it delicious! I was first in complete shock at how much I spent in the shop for ingredients. Chickpeas are about 60p a can and chopped tomatoes even less. I would of spent at least £5 on the chicken alone to make a Chicken Tikka Masala and with the majority of spices already in my pantry it was a super cheap and easy recipe that made a lot to use for leftovers. Success!
This recipe is such a good one for sharing. As my whole family are avid meat lovers, it can be quite irritating to make separate meals from them for 40 days. However, a recipe like this is delicious for both veggies and meat eaters that no other dinner needs to be made!
The one thing I wanted to make sure of was that I wasn’t constantly eating just pasta and bread, or replacing meat with fish. I wanted to try new dishes that make vegetables the star of the dish like the Chickpea Masala. However, for a couple meals I did opt for a simple bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and spinach. Can’t go wrong with a bowl of comfort sometimes, right?
On Wednesday, I had an event and was going to a Thai restaurant in Nottingham called ZAAP (amazing, you must go!). I have been there a few times but only ever ordered a chicken red thai curry. So i went for the same but this time with prawns and shock again! It was incredible! Whether it was just a good day or it was actually the seafood itself, the curry tasted the best it ever had. Super spicy, creamy and just delicious! So much better with prawns, which without this, I would have never tried.
Dinners seemed to be going very smoothly. I wasn’t eating the same thing and I was pleasantly surprised that even going out to a restaurant I didn’t feel any sense of jealousy of my partner eating meat in front of me as I was so busy devouring my own tasty dish!
Where it got tricky was lunchtimes. Breakfast was easy as I had cereal, toast and fruit on offer. But lunchtimes? was a mission. Other than pasta or just a repeat of breakfast I was having a hard time filling the hole and started turning to crisps and other unhealthy snacks. I then came across these vegetarian sausages by Linda McCartney. I was skeptical at first as the packaging was gorgeous and so intriguing but I have heard from vegetarians and vegans that replacing meat with “fake meat” wasn’t always the best solution but into my oven they went…
After 12 minutes they were done and I decided to have them in a English Muffin with ketchup and cheese. Oh wow!!! It really did taste like I was munching on a real sausage sandwich. I was in utter shock as I couldn’t believe how much it tasted like meat without all the gristly horrible bits and the tummy ache after.
So yes, I devoured it and then was going to tuck into the sausages by themselves and then came the first disappointment. Without the bread, the cheese and the ketchup covering the sausages, my mind suddenly turned against them. No real crispy outside, very soft and smooth inside but a weird texture and taste. I have no idea why but I realised that by themselves they were not for me but thankfully I know that if I put them in a sandwich they were incredible and released my meat-need.
I do have to admit though… I made a mistake! I was wondering around Co-op completely done with lunch and I looked for something savoury I could snack on until I saw scotch eggs. I cannot tell you why but for some reason my mind entered a complete blank with me thinking they were vegetarian?!?!?! THEY ARE WRAPPED IN PORK MEAT. I ate one before realising and felt so down and annoyed as I didn’t even enjoy it that much. A minor blip and now everything I eat I am constantly double checking with my brain if its veggie or not haha!
Finally I had a fish day, a piece of salmon with honey, sweet chilli sauce, ginger, garlic, chilli flakes and soy sauce. Wrapped in foil and baked for half an hour served with rice and vegetables (my favourite meal of the week). I am thinking of putting out a recipe for this salmon as it was so incredible so make sure to look out for that soon!
End of week thoughts: For the first 7 days I thought it might be slightly easy as I would be full of excitement but I didn’t expect to enjoy some of the meals as much as I actually have! I can already feel in myself thatI don’t have as many tummy aches as I usually do, my skin is clearer than it has been in a long time and I feel completely satisfied without having meat in my diet currently. Check back here at the end of next week to see if it continuous as well as it is! Follow me on instagram: merakibaking and let me know some of your inspiration, ideas or comments on what you think I could try or if you are trying something similar yourself!