40 Vegetarian Days

Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy. – Pope Francis

 

I’m not religious and I don’t normally observe lent (and when I do, I usually cave within a week) but this year I’m doing something which I’ve been wanting to do anyway, so hopefully I’ll see it through to the end (and beyond).  Even though it’s possible to make a lifestyle change whenever you feel like it, I quite like the idea of starting at a designated time, especially since lent is seen as a time for renewal.  The first benefit I’ve noticed is that my housemate and my mum are both doing the same thing at the same time, so it won’t only be something for me personally but it will be something to share with them.  Since it’s meat that we’re giving up, I’m really looking forward to cooking and eating together, trying out new recipes and finding and recommending things we like.

I’m not planning to be permanently vegetarian, but even after lent finishes I hope to cut down substantially on meat and animal products.  It will be challenging, I do eat meat almost every day but I think the hardest part will be consistently cooking interesting, varied and satisfying meals (especially ones that will keep my non-veggie boyfriend happy), but I just can’t see myself missing meat all that much and dying for a bacon cheese burger by the time lent is up.

It’s not only the horrific things that go on in the meat and dairy industry that push me towards vegetarianism – it’s partly that, but I also believe it is a healthy choice as well as an ethical one.  On top of that, I can’t help but find vegetarian food irresistible.  Going into a butcher’s shop doesn’t exactly tempt you to buy, but seeing fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables on a market stall?  If only there was more room in my fridge.

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Next to Nothing

=]

In a few weeks time I’ll find out where I’m going to be living as of August/September for the next academic year – Mexico, Peru, or Spain.  My housemate Hannah will also be going off somewhere and we quite often get into deep conversations about what the year will hold for us.  This morning we discussed the possibility of reinventing ourselves.  She said to me, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you came back as a complete hippie,” and to be honest, nor would I.

If things go my way, I’ll be going to Mexico, which is where I think I’ll learn the most and probably where I’d change the most.  For many reasons, I think that life will be a lot simpler which is one of the reasons I want to go.  I will only be able to take what I really need and I doubt I will miss much that I don’t have.  Another thing that Hannah said was, “I know people who spend all their money on fancy phones and new cars, but I’d rather have that few hundred quid and go off travelling for a month.”  We talked about how when we’re old and we look back on our lives, we want to have loads of stories and experiences rather than a huge collection of stuff.

Which leads me to our first-hand experience of living with next to nothing.  Many students do some form of backpacking so I hope a lot of people can relate to our three-week trip spanning seven countries with only a rucksack each full of things to last us and a tight budget to stick to.  Even though by the half-way point we had stopped locking up our bags, saying, “it doesn’t matter if they get stolen, they can have our dirty clothes!” we had the time of our lives, and compiled a short list of what we learned in Europe.

1)      You can live on a diet of croissants and ice cream.

2)      The hostel is around somewhere, even if it takes several hours to find.

3)      All you need for a good time is a pack of cards.

4)      You can fit 100 people in one tent.

5)      Campfires are underrated.

6)      Essential: Sun cream, maps, good shoes.

7)      Non-essential: Sleep, hot water, clean underwear.