Among my resolutions, if memory or edit/find serves, was to be a better vegetarian, to give more to charity when I’m back on salary, to buy a less polluting car and to arrange a renewable energy supplier to power the various death rays housed in my mountain fortress. Given that I’m still fairly moneyless we’ll start with the being a better vegetarian thing.
Now, while PETA naturally assumed the new year would see me baring my genitals more often, being a better vegetarian is actually about covering the basics I’ve been neglecting. I’m no good with the nutrition side of things, blanking protein like an old school friend in a supermarket. I can’t remember which of the vitamins I’m supposed to be making effort to find, or what the deal is with omega 3 or leafy greens or basically anything except the part about not eating dead things.
It’s time to go over the basics of veggie nutrition and fill in the gaps. The first one is protein. According to my earlier plagiarism of the Vegetarian Society I should be getting about 55g a day. That’s about what you’d find in 300g of minced beef or 250g of some fish or other, although to do so you’d have to be an inhumane accessory to cow murder after the fact, content to let our bovine cousins suffer horribly prior to their excruciating death. Or a pescatarian. I’m getting nowhere near that amount of protein, settling for whatever I can eke out of fake-ass non-sausages. I need to stock up on tofu and learn how to do stuff with it, buy nuts and seeds and remember to actually eat them, throw in a spot of dairy for variety, and figure out what to do with beans, lentils and legumes. Then there’s the thing about protein combining that I never understood and chose to ignore. It’s tempting to continue ignoring it, all the talk of lysine and methionine about as interesting as your average Twitter feed.
Protein aside there’s the issue of vitamins, and specifically vitamin B12. While the first eleven can go fuck themselves, B12 is apparently where it’s at. If we average the figures given by the Vegetarian Society and the Vegan Society we need between 1.5 and 3 micrograms a day, a microgram being one millionth of a gram. At which point I lose interest again. But while the micro-unit implies a monumental lack of importance, the Vegetarian Society says it’s vital for the growth and development of babies, the Vegan Society says B12 deficiency can lead to anaemia or nervous system damage, and PETA says something about tits. Through a megaphone, while splashing red paint around the premiere of a film you’ve never heard of. Point is, we have to take it seriously. I need a few specific foodstuffs – yer fortified breakfast cereals, yer eggs, yer cows’ milk, yer non-branded yeast extract spread.
Then there’s the omega 3 thing, which the Vegetarian Society says is found in stuff like flaxseed, hempseed, rapeseed and walnuts. Not counting those three walnuts I had at Christmas, my intake of those particular items is generally below par. Downing a tablespoon of flaxseed oil every morning is about as appealing as downing a tablespoon of flaxseed oil every morning. I don’t feel I need a metaphor for that. Fortunately, peanut butter has diversified its portfolio to include the likes of sunflower seed butter and pumpkin seed butter, which might be decent alternatives.
The trick is to turn all this into something tangible and edible, easy to slap together and just tasty enough to prevent reactive vomiting. I’ve been lazy, friends. I’ve been vegetarian for seven years and I’m still not entirely sure what tempah is. Or how to say it. Or what it does, and where its loyalties lie. This has to change. Immediately. Or if not immediately, then late on the evening of December 31st.
Photo credit: The Zero