In today’s blog post, I am sharing how I became a vegetarian during ED recovery. There were some hurdles I had to overcome/find an alternative. I am recovering from an eating disorder and I am allergic to some nuts. I had to be very conscious of cutting out foods because you aren’t exactly supposed to do this during ED recovery. Without meat, you obviously need some sort of protein and that is especially key during ED recovery. I have wanted to be a vegetarian for years now, but the things I mentioned early have gotten in the way. Instead, I decided to make the transition gradually.
How did I become a vegetarian during ED recovery?
Eliminated pork and lamb
I have never really been a big meat fan, so I decided to stop having pork and lamb first. This meant that although I was not eating either of these, I was eating more chicken. I very occasionally had beef but that was only if I was having a roast and there were no other options or for iron on my period! One day, I decided to try Linda McCartney sausages which are AMAZING! They tasted so nice; much tastier than pork sausages so that was a massive win. You can still have bangers and mash, toad in the hole…just substitute the pork sausages for veggie sausages.
Look at vegetarian options
The next thing is to go to the supermarket (or look online) and look through the vegetarian section. Quorn has a massive range and their food is really tasty. I especially love Quorn nuggets which taste much better than chicken. Quorn pieces and mince are a great alternative for the meat in cottage pie, fajitas, burgers etc.
Related post: Coping with an eating disorder at university
Use more cheese
Another transition I have made to become a vegetarian during recovery is cooking with cheese. For quite a while I have struggled with cheese being a fear food of mine. The only way to defeat your fear foods is to eat them more. This is easier said than done! But I have realised the importance of cheese when I stop eating meat. My favourite cheeses to cook with are feta and halloumi. I love to make a pasta, feta, mushrooms and garlic dish.
Make up new recipes
I recently bought a vegetarian cookbook for students which has some really good recipes. Since it is for students, they aren’t too hard either which is a bonus! Though saying that, I much prefer to make up my own recipes, and experiment a bit. My mum and I made up this bean cakes recipe, which is one of my favourite recipes. It is a bit of a lengthy cook, but they are so delicious.
Using bolognese as a base
I think the biggest game-changer for me, is lentil spaghetti bolognese. The sauce can be used in pretty much anything. We’ve been using them in quiches and pasties. But you could put them in a cupcake tray and have them as mini-tarts. Lots of choice with bolognese and luckily, it’s one of my favourite meals! Bolognese is also a great thing to batch cook, which is a good idea for reducing food waste, and always having a backup meal.
Related post: The benefits of being a vegetarian
Reducing and replacing
In the last few months, I’ve been having half the amount of cod and two sweetcorn fritters. But in the past few weeks, I’ve decided to just have one big sweetcorn fritter which I prefer much more! Fish is obviously a particularly good source of protein, so make sure that you have something with enough protein in to replace it, e.g. eggs.
I currently still have chicken once a week, but I’m hoping to be completely vegetarian soon! For me, it was really important to make sure that I wasn’t cutting out meat due to my eating disorder and that I actually wanted to do it. Therefore, I’ve been doing it over a period of months to make sure that it’s something I can sustain. With anything, I think it’s easier to gradually change/incorporate new ideas than go cold turkey (excuse the pun!).
Edit: I went full vegetarian at the end of May 2020 🙂
Best wishes, Cx