Diary of A Virgin Semi-Veggie, Part 1

A few weeks ago I had coffee with Haydn in Urru, Bandon and we spent a good while talking about food and health. He mentioned a book called The China Study which made a very strong scientific case for a plant based diet as a way of dealing with many ailments including heart disease.

As I have been officially obese for the past few years, I was in my regular new year weight loss mode and wanted to do it in a healthy way. The book sounded like an intriguing approach so I bought it on Kindle.

Unlike the relentless quackery that surrounds diet and diets, this was written by a man who worked his entire career as a doctor and researcher. His credits include the NIH and the Cleveland Clinic. I have to say, he makes a very strong case. If you can’t face the very very long book, grab a copy of the Forks Over Knives documentary which summarises his and other doctors’ thinking.

The core argument is that the gigantic increase in meat and dairy consumption is to blame for many of our ailments and these problems can be stopped and even reversed by switching to a much more veg-based diet. Basically like we used to eat in every society before we became rich.

So for kicks and giggles I have decided to try a mainly plant-based diet for the next “while” (duration TBD). I haven’t given up meat and dairy completely but I have cut down hugely.

In the past two weeks I have had no red meat, no eggs, cheese once, some weekend rashers/sausages and a smattering of turkey/chicken. The only dairy I get is a splash of milk in my tea. I tried both rice milk and soy milk and they are gross. A soy latte is an abomination.

On the veggie side, I have had lots of veg (duh), lots of fruit, seeds, wholemeal breads, porridge, hummus, salad and pickled veg. On the pure veggie side I have had Dee’s Spicy Bean Burger (not bad), Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages (surprisingly spot-on both for texture and taste), Brendan’s Vegetarian Burritos (nice taste but pure slop) and fried tofu with a ras el hangout coating (texture is too squishy).

Things I cannot stand about most veggie food in cafes etc are the ubiquitous bell peppers, aubergines and courgettes. Everything tastes the bloody same.

Tomorrow I’ll do a middle-eastern type thingy with falafel which I have become addicted to.

On the recommendation of several veggies I got the Veganomicon cookbook which I have just started and is a good fun read.

Plan for next week is more beans, more texture and less chicken/turkey. The only thing I’m not giving up is the Friday chicken curry. I did a butternut squash curry last week and I’m sorry, but no.

Texture remains an issue with all the non-meat proteins. I’m going to take trip into Quay Co-Op on Saturday to see what else they have. Seitan maybe? I’ll also see what else Tobairin in Bandon has (they do the burritos and the tofu).

Funnily enough I’m doing more a vegan thing than a vegetarian thing. Who would have thunk? Let’s see how long I last.

Another update in a few weeks.

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland http://conoroneill.com