By Eric Rugundu

Being a staff member at Cundall has a by proxy effect on your personal life. Surrounding yourself with environmentally and health conscious colleagues will inevitably rub off on you. I’ve always enjoyed reading the personal accounts of people’s experiences on our blog site, Cundall Conversations, and I’ve learned a lot from the insights therein.

For example, thanks to one of our Electrical Engineers, my home is now fully kitted out with LED lamps, saving me money and the world energy. Similarly, Roger Wood’s blog post on donating of blood (80 pints, wow!) inspired my first blood donation, and the second is in the calendar. Not to mention the general improvement to my health and wellbeing by taking tips from those I interact with daily.

So, for National Vegetarian Week 2017, I decided to take on one of the Cundall suggestions that I’ve silently shunned. Let’s be clear, I love eating meat. When I go to a barbecue, the only green on my plate is the garnish on my burger. Typically, I’ll eat meat in two of three meals a day. When perusing a menu in a restaurant, I’ll subconsciously bypass any section entitled “Vegetarian”. The fact is, I’m a carnivore.

Having said all that, the Cundall influence has been tugging away at my conscience. Some time ago, I read Alan Fogarty‘s excellent blog post on the effect of meat consumption on the environment, and it stuck with me. So here I am, a carnivore volunteering to go vegetarian for a week and blog about it.

Monday 15

If I’m going to do this, I’d better get it right. Now, what are my menu options? Wait, do vegetarians eat eggs? They are, after all, baby chickens. And what about fish? That’s not meat. Whoa, I’d better do some research to find out what I can and can’t eat!

Tuesday 16

So, eggs are in but fish is out. Basically, eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch and veggies for dinner for the rest of the week. That’s not so bad. I hear vegetarians can eat as much as they want without gaining weight, and that sounds pretty good to me!

Wednesday 17

Dinner last night was the first time I really missed having meat on my plate. I made a very healthy vegetable stew which tasted great, but something was definitely lacking. I’m sure it’s all psychological as I seem to make it through lunches each day without a second thought. Perhaps I should spice it up a bit tomorrow.

Thursday 18

Completely forgot about a family dinner that is planned for tonight. As I write, part of me is lamenting having to choose the vegetarian option in a restaurant. I’m sure it will be tasty but this will be my first real test of passing on the plethora of meat options! Am I feeling better for National Vegetarian Week? Ask me tomorrow.

Friday 19

I did it! I managed to make it through a restaurant meal while sticking to my vegetarian diet. To avoid any temptation, I asked our waiter on arrival at the curry house what vegetarian options were available and I was pleasantly surprised that every single dish has a vegetarian option! Indeed, my veggie Rogan Josh was tasty and I enjoyed it, but having to watch those around me enjoying meat options was a challenge, not made any easier by my teasing family! There is a surprising sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t anticipated from overcoming the challenge of choosing wisely.

So, what have I learned this week? There are lots of delicious vegetarian recipes out there for ANYONE to choose from (my favourite was the 15-minute mushroom stroganoff). Yes, it can be a challenge choosing the vegetarian option, but reducing my meat intake was ultimately rewarding both for my health and the environment.

Imagine how much better we would all feel if we made the choice to go vegetarian more often…

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Eric Rugundu, Sustainable Cundall, Uncategorized

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