Where do you live?
I am originally from Slovenia but I’ve been living in the UK for 15 years now. You can currently find me in Staffordshire.
My diet is mostly vegetarian with fish or seafood on the table once or twice a week. I eat meat on rare occasions like Christmas or when visiting my partner’s family and being offered meat with no alternative options. When visiting Slovenia I tend to have meat more often as sometimes it’s difficult to avoid it.
What was your motivation to start eating less meat?
For a long time the only type of meat I ate was chicken or turkey and that’s because white meat is the healthiest type of meat available. I never liked beef or lamb too much so I would normally avoid that anyway. While some people love steaks I never liked them. I did like chicken though but after I got myself educated about the UK meat industry I was really put off. I didn’t like it how animals are treated but that’s not all, they are given antibiotics routinely to prevent various diseases and we then consume those antibiotics! I didn’t want antibiotics in my food so I started avoiding any non-organic meat (organic meat does not contain antibiotics). During about the same time I found alternative (vegetarian) dishes to my weekly chicken salad and chicken risotto. This allowed me to save money as organic chicken is expensive, however, handling of organic chicken can still be questionable so I decided not to eat it at all at the end (only on rare occasions).
How many meat-free days do you have in a week?
As mentioned above, I only eat meat occasionally so most of my days are meat-free (but the seafood/fish is on the menu weekly).
What are the Benefits?
There are lots of health benefits associated with a lower intake of meat, for example, if your cholesterol is on a higher side, then you will really benefit by reducing your meat intake – like this you will consume less saturated fat which is the main culprit of raised cholesterol levels. Also, by eating less red meat and processed meat products you are reducing your risk of certain types of cancer such as bowel cancer.
I don’t really face many challenges by eating the way I do at the moment. There are lots of meat-free dishes you can make at home so for me it’s easy, I just have to plan my meals in advance. The main challenge probably comes from when I am visiting Slovenia. Typical Slovenian dishes rely heavily on meat and these are the dishes I’ve grown up with so sometimes I do miss them. For this reason I would probably have a meat dish in Slovenia maybe once or twice a week when I am there.
Have your family and friend been supportive?
My sisters sometimes ask me how are my iron levels but I assure them they are fine as I get my iron from other sources. They eat meat pretty much every day and they cannot imagine not eating it so they do think that I am a bit weird but that’s not really a problem. My fiance, on the other side, is quite supportive and eats all the vegetarian dishes I prepare for both of us, but he does want to eat meat sometimes and he would go and buy it and prepare it himself. On rare occasions (if the meat is organic) I would have some of it after it’s been prepared by him.
It’s difficult to choose, there are quite a few! I love this chickpea soup with spinach covered in garlicky sauce as well as this mushroom pasta with spinach and courgettes.
Favourite place to eat out?
When I am on the go I like to grab one of the vegetarian salads from M&S but when it comes to restaurants I like middle-eastern places where they have lots of vegetarian options. Just think falafels, hummus, baba ganoush, lentil soup, etc. I love this kind of food and you can find plenty of this kind of restaurants in Manchester.
It’s only recently that I got my hands on the first book from Deliciously Ella. I totally love it and I can easily say that it’s my favourite cookbook.
You can read more about Petra on her blog Be Healthy Now.
Flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan? We would like to know what motivates the way you eat and why it is important for you to eat less meat or even no meat at all. If you would like to be featured, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org