Flexitarianism is Sexy

This is probably the worst time to fall sick, with a simple cold setting off all sorts of alarm bells. But here I am, with the sniffles, a wobbly head and teary eyes. I am surrounded with candles, hot drinks, wrapped in what I call my Batman cape (a huge black wool shawl from Mexico that was passed down from my mother) and sitting in my beloved conservatory soaking in the warmth and light. Appetite has eluded me the past three days, but I force myself to eat in order to provide the medicines a lining in my stomach before I end up with an ulcer. All attempts to maintain some sort of structure in my day while convalescing elude me, and it was ironic that the cats decided to be at their cutest this morning, so cute that we had a mini photo session first. Have a look:

With the current prices of meat skyrocketing to intergalactic levels, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain the regular high protein / low carb diet I am normally on. Then the recent interference (yes, put intended, although the good man meant it as an intervention) of my doctor had me re-thinking my nutrition in general. I apologise in advance to all the vegans reading this … just in case …

Quick recap in case you missed it: I am under doctor’s orders to cut meat out of my diet and go vegetarian / vegan for several months. It was the perfect Halloween mood for me, a staunch meat lover. Nevertheless, my daughter and I decided to give it a go, and within a week, my knee felt much better. I am still not convinced that this is the chosen path for me on a permanent basis, but the lifestyle change seems to fit well with the current Lockdown Light situation.

After 12 years of living in India, vegetarian food has always been welcome in my home, and over the years, the hotter the temperatures (i.e. summer), the less meat I eat. So I never quite understood the German obsession for summer barbecues, indulging in steak and sausage orgies for months on end. Sure, there was always the vegetarian option, but it always seemed lame. South Indian vegetarian food will always be my greatest passion in terms of culinary preferences, but it is also one of the more challenging ones to make at home, especially since it is not intended to be cooked in small quantities! Going through all the trouble of making dosas, idles, vadas, and a thali just for two people is absolutely ridiculous.

Veganism in its purest and original form has its religious roots in India, with Jainism and later on the Arya Samaj Movement and this is how I first encountered all forms, concepts and parameters of veganism. In my mind, veganism had (has) a very strong religious component associated with a culture that is not mine to appropriate. Naturally, veganism has taken on completely different dimensions outside of India and developed into a parallel universe elsewhere around the world. I respect anyone who has adopted the vegan lifestyle, as it requires a very strong conviction, willpower and discipline, especially if you were born and raised in a non-vegan or even non-vegetarian culture. Giving up meat and going vegetarian is one thing, but giving up all animal by-products is a whole different ballgame.

During the first weeks of my journey I was a flexitarian – meaning I am (currently) primarily vegetarian but when presented with fish or chicken, I will not hesitate to dive in. For example, place an entire bucket of greasy crispy KFC drumsticks in front of me and I will hug you to death! Same goes for seafood, and so on. Nevertheless, I have made a lot of adjustments at home. Baking your own bread in Germany is considered bringing coals to Newcastle by many, but aside from the fact that I really enjoy baking the loaves and rolls fresh, I want to be in control as to what goes in my bread and consequently my body. Although my bread is vegan, wholewheat multigrain for the most part, I insist on using real butter and buttermilk for scones and pancakes. Substituting margarine and soy, almond or oat milk is just sad and a veritable travesty.

Do I miss my cold cuts for breakfast or sausages for dinner? Not one bit, and I’ll tell you why – food science for vegetarian products have reached such a scale here in Germany that you can set an entire spread of cold cuts on a buffet that look, taste and smell like the original meat versions and only the trained palate would discern the difference! I am absolutely fascinated by the textures, flavours and quality of what we have tasted so far, and even the prices! They have all become very viable and affordable options, making meat prices seem like a mortal sin. The only thing I am not convinced of is the salami, but I have made it my quest to find the perfect vegan salami! The other day we tried a packet of plant-based minced meat substitute for a noodle dish, and were flabbergasted by the quality. The consistency and taste was exactly like minced chicken, a tad on the rubbery side, not my favourite, but acceptable.

Long story short, there is a plethora of products out in the market or that you can make at home to have a satisfying vegetarian / vegan lifestyle and not want for much. The caveat here, however, is to adjust your vitamin intake as well, as the immune system goes through an overhaul. Pass the tissues please! Personally, however, I cannot commit to either one wholeheartedly just yet, as I love my cheese, butter, and eggs far too much! Vegetarian adobo, for example, is out of the question, and so is arroz caldo!

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