Food has always been a bit of a thing for our family due to varying needs, desires, temperaments, and opinions. So I’m going to have to split this giant subject into a few parts. I’ll be looking at food allergies and intolerances, meal times, and vegetarianism.
I became a veggie in 1985 when I was 17 years old. I’d been on holiday with my mum and step-dad to Canada and was put off by the slabs of meat on offer all around me. I was already on the verge of vegetarianism, living with an older brother who was a trawler man. (You never knew what might be lurking in the kitchen sink of a morning.) Once back home, I cut meat right out of my diet.
When I met my husband-to-be in my first year at university, he was in his second week of being a veggie, a bet with a friend to see who could last the longest without eating anything that ‘had once had a mother’. So far it had been two weeks and I think because I was already meat-free, it was easier for him to stay strong. He won the bet. He is still a vegetarian now, nearly 30 years on. His friend pretended for a whole year that he was still a contender but we later found out he’d fallen off the wagon after the first month. Mixed grills, burgers, sausages, you name it, he ate it. In secret.
My reason for giving up meat was because of the way animals were treated back in the 80s. I never thought it was wrong to eat animals, as long as they were farmed and slaughtered with compassion. My thoughts began to change a few years ago. I discovered I was B12 deficient, after a long period of frail health. For several months I had been dreaming about red meat. I would wake up salivating over rare steaks and cottage pie. So one evening, when we were out for a meal, I had lamb. It was heavenly. I’ve been eating meat since – but meat from local animals that have been reared well. (Still not too keen on fish as I don’t think I’ll ever get over the early mornings in my childhood kitchen, with the flapping fish and screaming lobsters.)
Our kids have been brought up to decide whether to eat meat or not. The oldest, 21, is a vegan. The middle one, 20, is a meat fanatic. The youngest, 18, after a briefish dabble with vegetarianism, has returned to the dark side.
But I still love a good veggie meal. My favourite restaurant in the world will always be Cranks at Dartington, with its whole food staples, colourful salads, homity pie, and general lushness. The Cranks Recipe Book was given to me as a student heading off to university and it is still my go to book for all sorts of recipes from Red Dragon Pie to Lentil and Tomato Soup.
That being said, nothing beats a roast dinner. With a decent cut of beef rather than a veggie sausage.
And my B12? I no longer have to have the injections.
Next time: Allergies and Intolerances.