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Lent the trials and tribulations of going vegetarian

When it comes to Easter we all enjoy chocolate and cakes but what about the 40 days beforehand? Lent is a time to give up something. It used to be sweet and indulgent things, hence Shove (pancake) Tuesday. However, now it’s a little more general with people giving up all sorts of things from Facebook to mushrooms (that was the kids, they don’t like them anyway. Cheats!).

Why Give Up Anything?

Depending on your religious inclination, it is said that Lent representsthe 40 days that Jesus spent in fasting in the desert. During this time he had to resist the temptation of Satan. Christians use this time to reflect on this and follow Jesus’ ways as it is thought hisApostles did.
So What to Give Up

Personally, I give up something that I find hard to resist. Last year it was me (Abi) who gave up Facebook. I actually found it quite liberating although it wasn’t easy. To start with I deleted all the apps on my phone and iPad. This stopped the temptation from notifications. The hardest part was during the day… I have to use Facebook for work to update our business page. I rationalised, this was ok and not breaking Lent as it was work. However, negotiating to our page without looking at any posts was slightly harder. So I changed my bookmark and set it to land me directly there. Problem solved!

Lent This Year

As our family tucked into their pancakes (for the third time that day, best make the most of it), we had a family discussion about what to give up. Our eldest said she would like to go vegetarian. This is big thing for her. We live in a rural area and our children are well aware of where there food comes from, with friends in the farming community. However, this has only settled them not made them think they shouldn’t eat meat. They can see the animals are well cared for and understand the process. Buy local and you know a lot more about what you are getting. Our eldest also loves meat so wasn’t suggesting this as a way of avoiding something she didn’t like and yes liver, mushrooms and parsnips were all put forward first. But this was different.

When discussed, it was thought that one person giving up meat was going to be tricky so it seemed a good idea for us all to give up. Oh ok then, Monday – Friday was the compromise! However, according to Wikipedia “In the Roman Rite Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and finishes on Holy Saturday. This comprises a period of 46 days. This includes 6 Sundays which are not considered part of Lent because Sundays are days of celebration for Catholics.” So we aren’t cheating much! Meals were discussed and, more importantly, how we would ensure a healthy balanced diet. Aye, there’s the rub, you have to eat up all your veggies!

What Happened Next?

Half way through, I can genuinely say we are really enjoying the experience. Our food bill has gone down, we’ve realised how expensive meat is and we are looking a lot more at what we eat. Meals are planned and alternatives have been found. Personally, I miss the texture of meat more than anything. Quorn and other substitutes are ok but don’tquite hit the spot. So we started to look for alternatives that weren’t processed foods with lots of additives. Definitely more interesting. Having spent time in Bangladesh a few years ago, where I ate a vegetarian diet, I asked a friend, who I had been saying with, for suggestions. She did more than that, she came over and cooked pulled jackfruit tacosfor us. Amazing!
Jackfruit is a fabulous fruit. You can get it tinned from Amazon and Ocado too!Maybe don’t go as excessive as us and buy 24 tins but it is more cost effective lol! It flakes like well cooked pork or chicken and absorbs the taste of the spices beautifully. Youngest has even said that she had forgotten we were vegetarian. Jackfruit comes in a brine, prepared into triangles. Easy to drain and pop into a curry too. Lazy Cat Kitchen has a whole host of fabulous recipes you can try. But here’s my recipe for a quick curry that I made last night.

Jackfruit Curry Recipe

1tbs coconut oil
1 can large can of Jackfruit
1 large onion
100ml water
1′ knob of ginger
5 cloves of garlic
1tbs cumin
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp turmeric
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1tsp ground coriander
2tsp Garam Masala
1/2tsp dried chill flakes
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of coconut milk

Method (serves 4)

  • Add the coconut oil to a skillet pan, allow to melt and then add the onions.
  • Soften until translucent Meanwhile blitzall the spices, garlic and ginger together in a mini food processor, cut finely or use a pestle and mortar to make a paste, add the water to aid this
  • Add spice mix to pan and stir gently to release the aromas for a couple of minutes
  • Drain jackfruit, add to pan and stir gently to cover in spice mix Squash the jackfruit with the back of a spoon to separate fibres and give pulled look
  • Add tomatoes and simmer gently to reduce to thick gravy
  • Stir in coconut milk and warm through
  • Serve with rice

Whatever your religious beliefs, I do hope you enjoy this recipe, we all did! Ihave found the experience great for looking at what we eat and shaking up our menu.Lent is a time of reflection and I can truly say that we will be continuing with eating less meat after it ends too.

Finally, we have even come up with some Easter egg alternatives as well as traditional Simnel Cake. Hop over and see what they are. Roll on Spring and Happy Easter to you all.

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