The Meats I Miss

I’ve been a vegetarian for a year and a bit, now, and it’s not significantly easier than it was to begin with. There are lots of meats that I miss. And there are some meats that I expected to miss, that I don’t. Here’s my experience:

This is how my subconscious communicates with me, too. Click for the original comic.

The things I miss the most:

  • Fish finger sandwiches. I know they’re not to everybody’s taste, but these things are just delicious.
  • Chicken in convenient things. What do you mean, I can’t have the dupiaza unless it’s with chicken? You do other dishes with vegetables!
  • Minced beef. Chilli-non-carne and vegetable bolognese aren’t quite the same as their meaty counterparts, especially when I rarely get the opportunity to put mushrooms in instead.
  • Having a wide variety of choice. If I grab myself a lazy pre-made sandwich from the supermarket, my choices are – at best – limited to cheese-and-tomato or egg mayo. There are plenty of great veggie sandwich fillings: like falafel and hummus, roasted peppers, brie and pickle, curried tofu and lettuce, carrot and rocket, or even QuornTM. But I’ve had to get used to many supermarkets giving me a choice of one or two (and this is also the case in a shocking number of restaurants, too).
This is the fourth time I’ve used this photo on my blog, and it isn’t getting any easier. Man, that’s a tasty-looking sandwich.

And things I don’t miss as much as I expected to:

  • Bacon. I’ve had the ocassional craving for crispy, well-done bacon. This is odd, because as a meat-eater I generally preferred my bacon barely cooked at all. But I’ve not missed bacon as much as I’d feared, and that’s great, because JTA‘s still liable to cook it, and the smell might otherwise have been intolerable.
  • Steak. I occasionally feel like I’m missing out, but this is more-often because I’m stuck with a limited choice on a restaurant menu than that the steak in itself looked particularly tasty. I guess I wasn’t as attached to lumps of beef or mutton as I suspected!
  • Cooking with meat. I expected to have some difficulties here: I cook a variety of different things, some of them well. And of those, the vast majority had a meat component. Meat-substitutes aren’t always suitable (even where they are adequate), so I’ve had to discover a stack of new things that I can put together in the kitchen. But this turned out to be simpler than I thought… perhaps in part thanks to the number of vegetarians I’ve lived with or dated over the years.
The webcomic-o-sphere loves bacon. Click for the original comic.

So there we go. There are things I miss more than I thought, and there are things I’ve missed less. And there’s not a particularly strong pattern between them.

If you’ve restricted your diet (e.g. by choosing to be vegetarian), what do you miss? Or if you haven’t, what do you think you’d miss the most? I think we all know how Adam feels, at least…



  1. Katie Katie says:

    I tried the vegetarianism thing through 2010 – when I moved to Greenwich, I was living with two vegetarians, and out of respect for them (they owned the house) I tried not to bring meat into the house.

    For a while, I ate it out of the house, but when money got tight after I stopped working for ORG, I basically stopped eating out, which meant that if I had food out of the house, it was stuff I’d had the foresight to stuff in my bag as I left.

    I didn’t particularly find I missed specific foods; like you, I thought I’d miss bacon and steak – but cheap bacon is shit, and since that was all I could afford even before I went veggie, it wasn’t a big deal. Steaks I did miss more, but I found ways around it.

    And I discovered new foods that I wouldn’t have picked up before, which I’ve wound up developing recipes to make at home, in a much healthier way than the ready meals I was grabbing because they were cheap/quick/easy.

    The one thing I found that surprised me, sometime in January 2011 when I was out with friends for food and ended up choosing a steak restaurant, was that for a couple of days afterwards, I had massively more energy, and felt generally healthier.

    My GP later pointed out that what I probably missed most, through not eating meat, was iron :p

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      In a similar experience, I did discover a few unusual cravings shortly after I went veggie, which I quickly determined were relating to things that were now “missing” from my diet for which I hadn’t yet found substitutes. Not so seriously as yours, I suspect. I’ve always eaten plenty of pulses so I get enough iron and proteins, and during the short period that I experimented with dropping dairy products from my diet I supplemented my B-vitamin intake, just to be sure, and between those three that’s most of the things that vegetarians have to look out for!

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Katie Katie says:

        Ah, yes, I didn’t take nearly such sensible precautions!

  2. Sarah Sarah says:

    Ironically, I am anaemic before I became a vegetarian, and a combination of eating healthier and being mroe aware of what I ate after becoming a vegetarian meant in the 11+ years I’ve been a vegetarian this hasn’t been a problem.

    What I don’t miss, like you, is bacon. I never have to be honest. I never really have, and over the years these things seem to get much easier, mainly because I started to forget whether I actually liked them in the first place!

    What I do miss, is choice when eating out. Granted I became vegetarian at 13/14 so I hadn’t ever eaten out *much* (for example, I’ve never even tried steak and many other meat dishes). However, I don’t know about Oxford, but in Leicester there are a couple (not many) of excellent vegetarian cafes/restaurants which I have come to love and become a loyal customer of.

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      Yeah: Oxford’s pretty veggie-friendly. We have at least a couple of completely-vegetarian eateries as well as a good number of others that are very vegetarian-friendly, but it’s still been a bit of a surprise to me to see, over the last year, quite how little choice is provided at some establishments.

      The other day, I ate at a pub where a lot of the IT support staff from around Oxford University gather for their Friday lunches. The menu was very short on meat-free foods, and always seems to be getting shorter: the options were soup (as a starter), a vegetable tart, and vegetable sausage and mash. I ordered the sausage and mash, only to be told, a little later on, that their order hadn’t come through. Now this could happen to anybody, with any meal, but in my case it cut my main-course options down by a shocking 50% (whereas has the guy ordering the fish and chips been told that it wasn’t available, his options would have only been reduced by about 3%). The mind boggles.

      Boggle, it goes.

      It’s certainly been a learning experience.

      1. Sarah Sarah says:

        I went out for a meal for a friends birthday last week and was appalled at the ONE vegetarian choice (I’m pretty sure there is some kind of requirement in this country to have vegetarian options on every menu, but this was the worst place I had ever been!). All the meat eating people had options of elaborate things like venison, steaks, chicken pies, and there was me with my vegetable tart!

        Ruth – have you ever tried Linda McCartney sausage rolls? I love them. I used to love the one that Y Popty made when I was still in Aber too. As long as you don’t have issues with quorn kind of substances, then they are really nice. I like pastry yum.

        1. Ruth Ruth says:

          I don’t think there’s any such requirement – I’ve been to places where there were no veggie options at all (most recently a pub in Norwich). It’s just that in this day and age, there are enough vegetarians around that you’re going to lose business if you don’t offer anything they can eat (because groups that include a vegetarian won’t visit).

          I’ve had linda mccartney sausage rolls. They’re pretty good, but not as good as the real thing imo. I used to have a mild addiction to the popty quorn cornish pasty – those things were so good! Might have to have one (or several) when I’m back in town for JTA’s graduation.

        2. Dan Q Dan Q says:

          I’m not aware of any kind of legal requirement that a vegetarian option is made available: and in the end, that’s probably for the best for everybody!

          There’s just something about pork fat and the way it interacts with pastry that you just don’t get with meat-substitute sausage rolls, I’m afraid! But I’ll give Linda’s sausage rolls a go and see if they’re up to the challenge. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Ruth Ruth says:

    When I was a proper vegetarian, I used to miss sausage rolls. I missed them so badly that sometimes I would secretly eat them, which always left me feeling confused about why I was veggie to begin with.

    Honestly, though, I’ve found your vegetarianism more difficult to cope with than mine; as I mentioned to you recently, it sucks that there are things I know you really like that I can’t get for you. I miss being able to make you suprise bacon sandwiches or fetch you BLTs.

    As long as you don’t give up cake, though, I imagine we’ll get through it :)

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      The interaction layer between pork and pastry is particularly delicious, but it’s not something that I miss more than I expected: it’s something I miss exactly as much as I expected – that is; not insignificantly. Sausage rolls are fantastic!

      I’m aware that you’ve found it a little challenging for me to be veggie: not least because you can see that in my case I’ve been doing it despite enjoying the taste of virtually all of the meat I’ve come across. This, in fact, is another of the things that I’ve found “harder than I expected”: coping with the knock-on effects it has on other people! Ah well…

  4. Sian Sian says:

    I miss tucking into something and not worrying about it if I didn’t know exactly what it was, at buffets and the like. The pizza where they hide the meat under the cheese is particularly bad for that!

    When we were in Tokyo I was halfway down what I thought was a bowl of regular miso soup, when Andy discovered a fish skeleton at the bottom of his. And sure enough that’s when I saw the sign that said that today’s soup was ‘Bony Parts’. Bleurgh!

    Fish finger sandwiches on cheap white bread with lots of ketchup are the main thing I’ve missed! Has anyone tried the Quorn fish? I’ve not been brave enough yet.

    1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

      I haven’t tried the Quorn Fish Fingers, but I think that Paul has. I’ll ask him to come and pass comment on them.

      1. Sian Sian says:

        Thanks! I am curious about them!

        1. The Pacifist The Pacifist says:

          Haven’t tried the Quorn fish yet. Will do on Saturday. I think it’ll be a success if they can get the flaky texture right.

          And Siàn, you do know regular miso soup has fish in it, right?

          1. Sian Sian says:

            The miso soup I buy here is veggie. Although I know it mostly has fishy stuff in it. I was prepared to accept the fish stock in things when I was in Japan to be honest, just not the ‘bony parts’ so much!
            Let me know how the Quorn Fish turns out!

    2. Ruth Ruth says:

      Quorn fish fingers? That’s just weird. In general, I like quorn stuff (apart from the ‘quorn roast’ – too dry and bland), but fish? I think that’d be strange.

      1. Dan Q Dan Q says:

        The “Quorn roast” dryness problem can be solved with the addition of bacon.

        I am probably the only person in the world who has tried this.

  5. Ele Ele says:

    I pretty much agree with you Dan on the things I missed in the 11 months I flirted with vegetarianism for. I wish I had the willpower to be full time veggie but since most of the time I am cooking for a veggie, I don’t eat that much meat anyway.

    I have spent the last 10 years with someone who doesn’t eat meat OR cheese, now that makes life difficult! Almost all veggie alternatives seem to be cheese based when you eat out and a lot seem to forget that parmesan is rarely vegetarian. For a long time Lee wouldn’t eat egg either (in it’s eggy form that is) so he has spent a lot of time eating carrots and cake and carrot cake!

    Sian – I found vegetarian food quite difficult to come by in Japan. I went with Lee who won’t eat meat or cheese but is happy with fish/meat stocks, another friend who eats fish but not meat or gelatin and another friend who won’t eat any meat or fish/meat stocks or gelatin etc. Finding places that cater for ‘proper’ vegetarians was a nightmare! One ryokan we looked at stopping in, the owner point blank refused to cater for vegetarians because he felt it was offensive to his cooking not to include meat or fish! Our other two friends also have nut allergies…

    IMO quorn fish fingers aren’t that nice, stick with the quorn chicken if I were you. I hate Linda McCartney veggie food, tastes like cardboard.

    1. Sian Sian says:

      Thanks for the fake fish review! I can’t say I’m particularly convinced by the idea of them, might give them a miss!

      Sounds like you had fun finding food in Japan bless you! I was prepared to accept hidden fish and meat stock, but still found it difficult to find much to eat. Filled up on plenty of Pocky and cute biscuits though!

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