Monthly Archives: February 2015

Vegetarian food for non-vegetarians

I have mentioned in a previous blog about my poor short term planning skills, specifically in relation to food. Food is simply not a big area of interest for me. I only think about food when I am hungry, bored, or procrastinating, and all of those states are quite immediate. I just don’t possess the forethought to anticipate eating requirements in advance.

I have also never been any good at doing the whole balanced diet thing. Therefore, if I am going to make not-eating-meat a serious part of my life, realistically I am going to have to rely on someone else to do the legwork to make sure I don’t end out a) massively overweight due to reliance on simple carbs and b) utterly deficient in vital nutrients.

Pearl

“You NEED me, Frost!”

To this end, I have been trying loads of meat-free products which I have never eaten before, just to see what works and what doesn’t. Another really important qualifier is that they need to be easily available, so everything I have tried has been on regular sale in Tesco.

Meat-substitutes have always gotten a lot of stick for being frankly awful, and while I would agree that some of them are indeed grim, in the process of investigation I have found a few I really like, and so I wanted to stick up for them. Which I have, plus said unpleasant things about the stuff that mings. For good measure, I’ve also thrown in a couple of my pre-existing favourites that just so happen to be vegetarian.

Good

These are all foods that I would be genuinely happy to consume in their own right, irrespective of the fact that they are meat-free.

  • Beer It goes without saying that I am absolutely delighted to announce that my favourite thing in the whole world is actually both vegetarian and vegan. Oh the joy!
Beer

“No animals were harmed in the making of this thing of absolute beauty.”

  • Alpro Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (vegan) Oh god yes. This is just like chocolate milk, although personally I think it tastes way nicer, and doesn’t leave that sticky coating in your mouth when you drink it. Let’s be honest, the last thing you want is a sticky coating in your mouth.
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£1.45 for 1 litre.

  • Alpro Devilishly Dark Chocolate Dessert (vegan) Not as firm as chocolate mousse, but rich, gooey and thoroughly tasty. I bought four packs less than an hour ago because I noticed they were on sale; I can’t promise they will still be there in a few days. Nom nom nom.
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£1.50 for 4 desserts

  • Quorn Picnic Eggs These are properly nice. The consistency of the ‘sausage meat’ is pretty much spot on, and the balance of taste with the egg is really authentic too.
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£1.70 for 10 ( I think )

  • Quorn Cheese & Broccoli Escalopes Very convincing; if I’d been given these without knowing what they were, I wouldn’t have guessed that they weren’t chicken. This is the only hot Quorn product I have tried that isn’t horrible. Plus, broccoli, hurray!
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£2.00 for 2

  • Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages These have a great texture and tasted really nice; they reminded me of the fancy-pants sausages you get from the ‘Finest’ section of a supermarket which is trying ever so hard to convince you that it really DOES cater to middle class shoppers.
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£1.70 for 6

  • Tesco Soy Burgers Not going to lie, these are very good. Again, great texture and nice taste.
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£1.75 for 8

  • Quorn Sausage Roll Much like the Picnic eggs, they have hit the nail on the head with these. The ‘sausage meat’ has that same great consistency, and also has the same herby flavour as you get in normal sausage rolls. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
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£1.70

  • Broccoli This is kind of a cheat, because I have always loved broccoli and so it’s not something new. I have however discovered how quick and easy it is to cook chilli, garlic and soy sauce broccoli, and that has made my life a better place, so it totally qualifies.

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49p for enough broccoli for two people. Or for one me.

Bad

While I am talking about my discoveries, here’s a few on the less enthusiastic end of the spectrum that are worth mentioning. On The Sliding Scale of Fail from ‘insta-barf’ to ‘not great’, here are the products that I really wish I hadn’t spent money on.

  • Quorn Sausages Oh my fucking god NO. These are truly, truly awful. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am not sure I could eat another one of these, regardless of how hungry I was. The taste and texture are way off. They are hellish tubes of Wrong. I really can’t stress enough that you should stay well away from these.

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  • Quorn Bacon Slices Smelled like smoky bacon crisps with a cheesy twang, and looked like worn shoe insoles. Whilst they were hot they were palatable,  but got weird as they cooled down. I definitely wouldn’t recommend them, but they didn’t make me feel queasy like the sausages. Oh my GOD, the sausages…

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  • Quorn Steak Strips Bleurgh. Vaguely savoury compressed marshmallows. I drowned them in soy sauce, and they passed as edible largely because I love soy sauce way more than is normal or healthy.
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£2.00 for two meals for 2 people.

  • Quorn Chicken Pieces There is no way you could ever pretend this was actual chicken. The texture is better than the steak strips, and to their credit the pieces pick up flavour well, although they totally miss the lightness of chicken. So far I have tried them in fajitas, Thai green curry sauce and pad Thai noodles and they took up space where the meat would normally be, while substituting in protein. That’s the nicest thing I can say about them.
£3.00 for two meals' for 2 people.

£3.00 for two meals for 2 people.

This isn’t definitive, I have more stuff in the freezer to try, so expect some revisions in the future. In the meantime though, I can recommend giving some of these things a go and see what you think.

Except the Quorn sausages… oh god, the sausages…

"...you weren't THERE, man..."

“…you weren’t THERE, man…”

Why aren’t more vegetarians fat fuckers?

How are your arteries feeling, bitch?

How are your arteries feeling, bitch?

I don’t profess to be a vegetarian, but for the last week I have eaten a meat-free diet. And bugger me if as a consumer society we don’t make that a surprisingly hard thing to do, in the 21st century.

The first question you would probably ask me is “…why?” and that’s a perfectly valid question. Because I do like meat (fnarr fnarr). In fact, from a very young age I have been borderline obsessive about bacon and eggs. However, there has been a quiet, internal conversation happening within me for many years, and it has been getting persistently louder recently.

I am aware that a lot of the issues in my adult life have come about because I have held myself to frankly impossible standards of personal behaviour. In the last couple of years I have learned to accept that I am subject to the workings of a brain, and since brains run on chemical reactions, they are subject to fuck ups and sub-par responses, and sometimes I make bad choices. Sometimes I make bad choices, and that’s OK.

Now, while I have stopped giving myself an unnecessarily hard time, I do strive to live my life in such a way that I feel that I can justify myself to myself. I don’t live my life for, or by the standards of, others but I do need to know that I am doing right according to how I believe I should conduct my shit. One of the things I simply will not tolerate in my own thinking and behaviour is hypocrisy…and I have to say that I have had a few uncomfortable moments with that.

A video appears on Facebook showing what any reasonable human being would consider intolerable cruelty towards dogs and cats within the meat trade in Eastern countries. I find myself outraged and upset that some assholes are shoving these beautiful, sweet creatures into horrible conditions in cages, to then be killed for food and…hey, wait a minute

The hypocrisy of my response troubles me. Not the reaction itself, because that is the correct way to respond to the situation if you have any degree of empathy. What bothers me is that I don’t bat an eyelid at the beautiful, sweet creature who was shoved into horrible conditions and killed to facilitate me chucking a slice of its arse into my basket at Tesco, and calling it a steak. If I don’t think that it’s right to do that to an animal, then it shouldn’t be right to do that to any animal.

The other thing that bothers me is that I could not kill anything in cold blood myself. I always defend little creatures like spiders and moths from death wherever I can, and I know full well that I could not look at a living, breathing, feeling animal and be the direct cause of its death. So how can it possibly be OK for me to cover my eyes and ears and have bacon for my breakfast, knowing that I am letting the blood of an intelligent, personable and fun creature be on someone else’s hands?

Let me be clear here, I am not making a judgement about anyone else’s choices. I mean seriously, if you could live in a forest and track, hunt, kill and butcher an animal to provide for yourself then I honestly tip my hat to you. You have a whole level of survival skills that are simply not available to me. I know that vegetarians – and even more so vegans – get a real hard time about advocating their choices; I am certainly not about to put an evangelical hat on, and wag my finger about right and wrong – not with some of the shit I’ve got up to in the past. I really don’t feel qualified.

Anyway, I digress. The nagging little thoughts that I am not doing right by myself are bothering me more and more as time passes. A few months ago, I was getting the bus into town, and there were some teenaged shitbag kids sitting at the back. They were being loud and obnoxious, and I put my earphones in so that I could retreat into my musical bubble and merrily ignore them. A woman got on shortly after me with three kids – although I don’t really have much experience of people who aren’t yet legally allowed to buy a round in a pub, I would guess they were probably aged between 5 and 12.

When they got off, the mother walked past me with obvious liquid streaks across the back of her clothes, and she angrily confronted the bus driver, pointing back towards the kids at the back of the bus. In my gut, I felt like an utter cunt. I had known that those kids were trouble and I had bowed out of that situation. In doing so, I let someone else suffer what was probably a scary and humiliating experience with her children, and she should not have had to do that alone. I was capable of being a better human being in that situation and I SHOULD. HAVE DONE. BETTER. That is the same gut-deep disappointment that I feel about eating meat at the moment.

I haven’t really mentioned to anyone that I’ve been doing this, mostly because it’s a point-of-sale decision for me alone. I am not doing it for any politically motivated reasons, or because I want to receive or change anyone else’s opinion. I did mention it to one of my friends in passing the other day, and she pointed out that me not eating meat wasn’t going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things; no animals were NOT going to die because of my choice to not have sausages for lunch. It kinda stumped me at the time, because she was technically right, but in retrospect – that’s a really shitty reason to not do the right thing. “My contribution is so small that it’s not worth even making” is about the very worst reason not to do A Thing. In my world, at any rate.

So anyway, skip to last Friday and I just decided on a whim that I wasn’t going to have bacon for breakfast. Then I decided I wasn’t going to have the beef soup for lunch. I queued for a sandwich and decided that I wasn’t going to have ham…

Let me familiarise you with one major flaw about me; I am really bad at short term planning. I have the attention span of a toddler with a belly full of Irn Bru. I eat when I am hungry and don’t think about food the rest of the time. I end out buying most of my meals from the canteen at work, because the level of planning and shopping required to sort out food from home just escapes me. Besides, on the odd occasions that I do manage to take dinner to work with me, I always end out eating it before 10am….and then still wind up buying the normal amount of food from the canteen anyway.

What I have discovered, in this week of leaving meat out of my diet, is;
If you are like me (unless you are a fan of intensely plain salad) your options are ALL OF THE MOTHERFUCKING CARBOHYDRATES IN YOUR FACE.

I have been putting some nice meals together in the evenings, but when I have been out of the house, my diet has pretty much consisted of bread, potatoes, chocolate and cheese. Oh yeah, I also had a pastry in the café at university… I’m at the train station and I’m hungry – “Cheese sandwich, asshole. Oh that’s plain and boring, is it? Here, have some crisps.”

A major problem with carbohydrate-dense foods (for me at least) is that I process them really quickly and then just as quickly end out hungry again, despite doubling my daily calorie intake.

Seriously, how are you vegetarian motherfuckers not all the size of small cars??

I really need to learn to plan ahead, or this might be the death of me.

What does it mean to be a woman? Actually, whatever the fuck you like.

For a long time, I called myself a misogynist because I thought I didn’t like women.

What I have come to realise through age, experience and also a lot of the work done by institutions such as the Everyday Sexism Project and Upworthy, is that actually what I don’t like is what everyone has always told me it is to be a woman.

Pirate 3

In the nicest possible way, deal with it.

I was born female, and I identify as female, therefore having reached the tender age of 36, I am officially a woman. I haven’t always been comfortable with that title though, because it didn’t feel right. What wasn’t right about it however, was what other people expected ‘woman’ to mean.

I have never been ‘ladylike’. I have always walked like my father, because Genetics. I have always sat with my knees apart, because that’s comfortable. I have always slouched, because my back is twisted. I have never fought against what I am naturally inclined to do for the sake of what other people might think…much to my mother’s chagrin in my teens.

Say hello to 15 year old me. I fucking LOVE this picture.

…and say hello to 15 year old me. I fucking LOVE this picture.

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Before I started making choices…

 

 

I have always found a certain twisted joy in challenging peoples expectations. “You look like a boy!” Not a boy, deal with it. “You look like a lesbian!” Not a lesbian, deal with it. “You look surly and aggressive!” Happy motherfucker right here, deal with it.

I have always liked tinkering with gadgets and machines to see how they work. I also like making and building things as solutions to problems around the house. I like to approach things in a practical and logical way. I used to call that collecting Man Badges, since those things were all traditionally viewed as male activities, but the truth is I just like Fixing Shit. Making Stuff Better is one of my strengths and I would go as far as to say, my primary calling in life.

I have an intense dislike of going shopping, because there are too many factors beyond my control; the people that I don’t know who I am forced to come into contact with, the soulless music that assaults my ears, the weird array of smells that I have to breathe in, not to mention the ghastly array of shit that people are told that they need. I already have all the clothes I need, and anything else I can buy online.

This has been known to upset people.

This has been known to upset people.

Speaking of clothes, my wardrobe has remained largely unchanged over the last 10 years. The reason? I liked what I wore then and I still like it now. I have no interest in what anyone else is choosing to put on their bodies, other than to raise the occasional eyebrow at an outfit that I suspect someone is going to regret wearing in a year’s time.

I don’t wear fitted tops, I prefer to wear baggy slogan or band t-shirts. When people look at me, what I want is for them to notice is that I like Firefly or Korn, not for them to just look at my tits.

It's not about the tits, people.

It’s not about the bewbs, people.

I also wear big baggy jeans because they are comfortable, and I like the shape of them. Similar to the t-shirts, I wear them to be a beacon to others of my kind, because that is way more important to me than wanting to outline my sweet ass in clinging denim. And I DO have a sweet ass, just so you know.

I don’t like handbags because for my purposes they are utterly impractical; I prefer pockets for their simplicity, and besides – whoever thought it was a good idea to put all of your important shit in one easy-to-steal container?

As a rule, I end out buying men’s clothes because  – in the UK at least – I am reasonably tall and men’s clothes fit me better. Also because manufacturers don’t insist on sewing sparkly shit and DETAILS onto men’s clothes. It’s completely unnecessary and utterly infuriating on the odd occasions that I am forced to shop in the women’s section.

I love to travel, and I prefer to travel alone [on a side note, I’ve been told that’s brave; it shouldn’t be fucking brave, it should just be a choice.]. It’s a point of pride that I only ever take a rucksack, and never check a bag when I fly because 1) it’s way easier, and 2) it challenges the perception that I am supposed to travel with three suitcases because I have a vagina.

All of that said…

I made this.

I made this.

I like to draw in pencil, and paint in acrylic. I like to knit and create things for people. I like to make sock puppets. I like to grow flowers and vegetables. I like to make costumes. I like to cook roast dinners. I like to make the world a better place for future generations. My heart breaks easily when I see the pain of others and I will defend the rights of children to the death.

I didn't make this, sadly.

I didn’t make THIS… sadly.

I like to drink vast quantities of beer and laugh at my own farts. I like obnoxious humour and children’s cartoons. I like loud, primal, aggressive music. I like to play computer games and immerse myself in Sci-Fi and fantasy. I love graphic novels and comics. I don’t like or want children of my own. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what the rest of the world is up to.

I like kittens and bunnies and baby otters.

I like dragons and robots and demons.

I am gentle, I am supportive and I am kind.

I am bold, I am fierce and I am fearless.

I am EXACTLY what a woman should be – ME.