Monday 25 April 2011

"No Such Thing as a Nigerian Vegetarian!"

Being pescetarian for 40 days was not incredibly difficult overall.

However, there were a few times when it got a bit sticky:

1. Eating out: 

Especially if it's a place you go regularly and order the same thing off every time. Having to re-assess a menu you haven't read in about 8 months is creepy.

It's even worse if the menu's limited. As someone who isn't fond of raw cheese (bleeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrghhhhhhh), when the vegetarian section consists of Cheese, Cheese and Pickle or Cheese and Mature Cheese sandwiches, I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice.

Thus meant I ended up eating chips a lot when I was in a rush and wanted something inexpensive, quick and meat free.

2. Eating socially:

Usually, every Friday night, Lady V, the Faerie and I get together at each other's houses, and let them wait on us hand and food.

And the Faerie really likes meat, but felt guilty about it even being in the kitchen with me, so it kind of felt like I was depriving them as well.

Though being in the student bubble meant I'd forgotten when Lent had started and I hadn't sorted out my shopping list/timetable properly, so ending up cooking a meal for them that I couldn't eat, because it had meatballs in it.

Apparently, it was delicious.

It's okay, I'm not bitter *sniff*


3. Coming home: 

Cooking for myself gives me a lot more freedom and ease when it comes to dodging meat and getting inventive in the kitchen, whilst still getting the protein and iron I needed from food.

But when I'm at home?

In a Nigerian home?

Dodging meat is near impossible.

Here's a conversation snippet from when I was fourteen:

Mum: Why aren't you eating any stew?

Me: It's got meat in it, Mummy.

Mum: So? What's wrong with meat?

Me: *In an appropriately dramatic manner* Mummy, I'm a vegetarian!

(Pregnant pause)
Mummy: There's no such thing as a Nigerian vegetarian. Hurry up, eat it quickly!

And then she sat there and made sure I ate it.

Even though I'd been vegetarian for nearly 6 months by then, that was the end of that.

Basically, apart from chicken, there's no other form of protein in my house (apart from baked beans, which isn't exactly the most nutritious of options with all the sugar and salt). As well as that, I think my blood iron levels are a bit low, because I've been feeling really tired since I've gotten home.

Plus my mum puts chicken stock in EVERYTHING. Lots of Nigerian dishes would actually be great vegetarian/vegan meals if there wasn't so much chicken stock in it.

So I've had to compromise - even though I wasn't eating any meat by-products either, to avoid starving to death, or eating too much pre-packaged food, or seriously offending my mum, I've been eating the jellof rice.

Even though I saw my mum put chicken stock in it.

Even though I pleaded with her not to.

Mum: If I don't put chicken stock in it, it won't have any flavour. It's not just you eating out of this pot, you know.
Think of your brother and sisters.

So I'm not sure if this Lent was a fail or not.

Also, the weather's been good, so everyone is my house is like "Fried Chicken! Barbequed chicken! Stewed chicken!"

With the smell permeating through the house on what feels like a continuous basis, I've been like this for the past two weeks:

But all in all, I've enjoyed the experience! I got some really good meals out of it (like an incredibly delicious fried mushroom quesadilla that the Wonder Thing whipped up for me - yum!) and I've learnt how to be more inventive. 

Another fact was that my meals became really vegetable orientated when I skipped out on meat, so I guess in a way they got healthier. 

I changed my way of cooking - there was less meat, and more baking and roasting and general usage of the oven, and things went a bit slower, so I planned it ahead.

Planning food ahead meant that I got really excited about it - and I generally get excited about food, but this was something else.

When you're in a seminar and suddenly remember you're making butternut squash soup for dinner that evening and start rubbing your hands together and squeaking in glee, earning you the concerned and wary glances from your classmate...well, if that's not excitement, I don't know what is. 

Well, maybe a little bit of greed, maybe. But it's excited greed, so it still counts.

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