Like most of the great challenges in life, it started off as a bet. I was at a bbq at a friends house and posted a picture, on social media, of the 2 giant steaks that we were cooking. To be honest, the picture did them justice, they looked like they had been carved from the haunches of a dinosaur.
Anyway, a friend responded to the sight of said picture by suggesting that we should go vegetarian for a month. If we did, he would donate £100 to charity. Now, myself and my friend are Freemasons, so the logical charity was the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. There quickly followed a couple of postings by Masonic friends saying that they would also match that figure. Rob, his name has not been changed to protect his identity, and myself, having imbibed a large quantity of red wine by this time, were laughing and thinking ‘no way!’ and then the RMTGB posted a response saying ‘thanks for your support guys!’
Bugger! There was no real way of backing out now.
So we decided that we would do this idiotic challenge, starting on May 5th, the day after Rob’s birthday. We made sure that at Rob’s birthday bbq we overdosed on meat. Understand that the pair of us are devout carnivores. I have no issue with anyone who wants to be vegetarian, in fact, I now admire them immensely. But this challenge required some thought. It is not as easy to come in from work and chuck something in the oven for dinner when you are on a veggie diet. It requires some planning and thought. It also needs some knowledge of nutrition. I have issues with my kidneys that mean that the normal foods that a vegetarian would eat to get their protein I can’t eat. So straight away I am putting my health at risk, but it is only for a month.
Our first vegetarian meal was at a Masonic dinner. Presented to us under silver domes and revealed with a flourish. I could hardly contain my indifference, and I think that Rob felt the same. It was nice, but we both felt that there was something missing. And this is what we felt about most of the meals we had. We missed the textures and depth of flavour that meat brings to a meal. We tried all the usual stuff, quorn being particularly tasteless unless you put so much in the way of herbs and spices with it that it strips the lining from your throat.
Someone did suggest a meat replacement from a vegan shop, peppered vegan ‘steak’. I went to this shop and found what appeared to be two dog turds in a plastic tray covered with clingfilm. But, any port in a storm, I gave them a go. There was so much chilli on it to give it flavour and it had the texture of, what I would imagine to be, dog turd.
In amongst all this we were being teased, polite word, mercilessly by other Masons with pictures of rare steaks, bacon, sausages, burgers etc being mailed and texted to us, it is surprising that we did not turn to cannibalism. But donations came in. We set up a PayPal account for people to donate to, and we were willing to accept cash and cheques. At the end of all this we raised over £1000.
As far as I can tell the only benefit I can see from changing to a vegetarian diet is that I was more regular, if you know what I mean, and it was more satisfying. The food itself always left something to be desired. Neither of us felt better for it, probably because we were drinking more beer and eating more puddings. Fortunately there is no meat in chips and cake! We had some fun along the way with reprisals against those who took the p%$$, and we raised loads of money. Would we do it again?
Good God! No!
I admire anyone who makes that choice, to be a vegetarian, but I am a meat eater, a carnivore. And that is what I will be until I die, which according those vegetarians will be soon.
Myself and Rob thank all those who donated for their generosity and the money raised has been gratefully received and will be faithfully applied.
PS. We finished the challenge with a steak. Rare & bloody.