I've been vegetarian ever since I was born, apart from the odd occasion when I've accidently eaten a chicken slice sandwich, thinking it was Quorn meat, or been in a restaurant with my husband when he tells me that something I have for a starter is meat-free when actually it isn't. In all fairness, he had my best interests at heart as he knew I would feel ill and not want to eat the rest of my meal. Thinking I was tucking into a vegetarian somosa, I was actually eating a lamb mince once. Yuck!
All my life I've been asked the same questions over and over again. What an earth do you eat? Surely being vegetarian isn't good for you? And now that I'm pregnant, particularly in the earlier stages, this was a concern for my family. Even my midwife wasn't a fan of the idea.
But I stand by the fact that I've managed over 26 years without eating meat. I'm still here, fit(ish) and healthy, so what harm can it really be doing?
As long as you maintain a balanced diet and ensure you're getting the vitamins you need, especially whilst pregnant, there's no need to suddenly change. To date, I have never had any issues with lack of certain vitamins that might be found in a meat-rich diet, which I believe is down to eating a lot of tofu, lentils, potato and Quorn products. I've lived with Greg for almost three years now and 99% of the time I cook a vegetarian meal. I think to begin with he was concerned about eating this way - he has always been a meat-lover - but now, I'm pretty sure he doesn't really miss it. Obviously I don't deprive him of it and he has the choice to eat it whenever he likes, particularly when we eat out.
The image above is an afternoon tea I had only a few weeks ago with some friends at The Bush Inn, Hereford. Now wipe up your drool - it was as yummy as it looks. Everything on this side of the camera was for me to eat. Being preggers, I was in heaven!
As you can see (although I don't have a pic of the meat version for you to compare it to), my version did not suffer at all. I still had a burger, a veggie one of course, and chips and breaded mushrooms, whilst the other girls had scampi and chips. At an amazing price of £14, this was an afternoon tea not to be sniffed at, unless you wanted to inhale the tremendous smells!
This was me on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, surrounded by food, which half of belonged to Greg. Honest. Even when I've been abroad I haven't had to starve for lack of vegetarian food. And I don't mean having to live of salad for a week or two. Luckily I'm a rather big fan of pizza and this seems to be a world-wide option, although not the healthiest I know!
For those of you wondering why I'm vegetarian, it's been my personal choice since the age of 16, when my Mum gave me the choice to become a meat eater should I wish to. I didn't want to eat meat and still do not want to, simply because I don't like the thought of eating it. Also, you can't miss what you've never had!
My mum is living proof that being vegetarian and pregnant can work. She has been through three pregnancies as 100% vegetarian and we have all come out fine, I think. Baby Stephens is currently being fed a vegetarian diet, but once he is born this won't be the case.
It is extremely important that you get enough nutrients whilst pregnant, for both the health of your and your baby. The NHS website has lots of information on ways you can get the vitamins, minerals and protein you need through different foods, and the ones you should avoid.