I’ve been asked to do a post about what I eat as a vegetarian, and I asked some fellow bloggers who also seemed keen to find out, so I thought “Why the hell not?!”. Before I start, however, I just want to point out that I am in NO WAY a food expert, nor am I educated enough in nutrition, this is just a post about what I have found that suits me since becoming vegetarian back in November. So, without further ado, here it goes! Now, some of you may well be thinking “Surely it’s obvious, you eat anything just not meat”, well yes, overall this is basically it…but as we all know, our bodies need a huge variety of different foods to get all the nutrients we need. There are some things, take iron, that are extremely easy to get from meat, but are slightly more difficult to get if you don’t eat meat. I’m going to talk about iron first as it is the thing I’ve struggled with most. Now, it is TOTALLY possible to get your iron intake without eating meat, that is, if you are eating the correct foods in the correct amounts. Personally, I turn to leafy greens (mainly spinach) and fortified cereals (bran flakes) for my iron, however, I do find that this is pretty difficult. Cereal, yeah ok that’s great…I eat it most mornings and so get some iron from that. However this isn’t enough. I also have to make sure that I eat a portion of leafy greens everyday and to be honest, even then I don’t think I hit my RDA of iron. I have struggled with this from day 1, and in all honesty, I haven’t been following this strictly everyday. This has led me to experience fatigue and dizziness, both symptoms of iron deficiency. But fear not, most vegetarians cope fine with getting their iron intake, and if not you can just take iron and vitamin supplements from your local supermarket. In my case I actually turned to the doctor and am now waiting for a blood test to check my iron levels. As scary as it may sound, iron deficiency is perfectly curable, and if you are strict with your veggie diet (unlike me) you should be totally fine, so don’t let it put you off.
ALL OF THE SPINACH – DAT IRON
So, let’s leave all this seriousness and move onto the fun stuff. For this I thought I’d break it down into a what I eat everyday kind of thing. So, starting with breakfast. Now, I know that some people can’t stomach food so early in the morning, but me, I’ve always been a breakfast kinda gal (to the point that if I miss breakfast, I’m always completely ravenous for the whole day no matter how much else I eat). If it’s a uni day or I’m in a rush, I begin my day with bran flakes and some milk not the dairy kind though, usually rice milk or almond milk. Then it’s usually a banana. If I do have some more time to play with I like to have porridge with Nutella and peanut butter (nut butters are great for veggies as a protein source!) or a personal fave, runny boiled eggs and whole meal seeded toast. YUM!
Next is lunch, which, if I’m in uni, is nearly always a sandwich (whole meal again) with cheese and maybe some salad leaves/tomato. It’s a pretty typical packed lunch that also contains crisps, some fruit, cereal bars and some buttered cream crackers. Pretty boring but I like it! If I’m at home it could be boiled egg (if I haven’t had it for breakfast) or maybe some pasta.
Dinner is next, and is my final full meal of the day. It’s usually always something with sweet potato (I’m completely obsessed with it). I love veggie burgers, veggie friendly oven bakes and anything Quorn. It’s just quick and easy. I always try to have spinach with it as well, lately I’ve been loving sautéed spinach (recommended to me by a wonderful Twitter friend). The picture below is of a baked sweet potato, a garlic mushroom grill and sautéed spinach.
If I have more time or if it’s a weekend with my boyfriend, I make curry, fajitas or bolognese, using Quorn pieces (although Ryan has meat). We also eat a LOT of pizza when we’re together. I usually create my own and have pineapple and mushroom…YUM! Or veggies with a BBQ base. Below is a yummy veggie stirfry!
Throughout the day I snack. A LOT. Usually I’ve always got some chocolate at home, I’m also partial to the odd biscuit or ten. For dessert if I eat out it’s usually something chocolatey or with ice-cream if I’m feeling brave (I’m meant to avoid dairy if possible). Actually…onto the dairy. You may now be thinking “You have to avoid dairy but you eat cheese and chocolate”…let me explain…I have IBS and basically an excess of dairy can cause flare ups. Now, to manage this I cut out milk and opt for dairy free alternatives, but I am the BIGGEST cheese fan, and so cutting that out could prove traumatic. So I limit myself with cheese as much as I can, I know my limits and how much I can eat and can usually manage it very well. Below is a naughty chocolatey treat (made with soy milk though).
My IBS used to affect me every day. For those of you who don’t know what IBS is, it’s a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome which, in basic terms, means that certain foods trigger irritation in my bowel. This causes some very unpleasant symptoms – stomach cramps, sickness, nausea and the obvious interactions with poop (no more details needed). This illness meant that when I first became vegetarian I was very worried about how my stomach would react. An excess of dairy, too much green veg, spicy food and lots of tomato really sets it off, and my diet consists a lot of these things, but as I’ve already said, management is key. If I know I’m having a heavily tomato based meal one day, I avoid it for a few days. Same with dairy, if I have a cheesy meal, I avoid dairy in excess for the rest of the day. Obviously there are some days where I want all the cheesy pizza and lots of chocolate, so then I just deal with the consequences, but in general, I’ve actually found that my IBS has largely improved (I think meat actually triggered it sometimes).
So yeah, basically this is what I eat as a vegetarian and how I cope with my diet and IBS. I hope you’ve enjoyed nosing at my daily diet. Stay tuned for more!