Going veggie: I have a confession to make about a ham sandwich

It’s so easy to forget I’m not meant to eat meat. And as for the smell of a chicken burger

I could think of a hundred better ways to break the diet other than a sliced pan sandwich, which had been left out hours before I got to it and was stale from air-conditioning. Photograph: iStock

I could think of a hundred better ways to break the diet other than a sliced pan sandwich, which had been left out hours before I got to it and was stale from air-conditioning. Photograph: iStock

 

Sitting under the flickering fluorescent bulbs of Luigi’s chipper in Longford on Sunday night, I came within a whisker of breaking my vegetarian pact.

It was late, I was hungover, and we were on our way back to Dublin after a weekend at home in Roscommon.

My boyfriend had a chicken fillet burger – soft bun, crispy iceberg lettuce, raw onions and a warm, breaded chicken fillet. I asked him if I could smell it.

It took every inch of willpower to pass it back without taking a bite.

Nobody should live like this, I thought.

While I’m on the subject, I have a confession to make about a ham sandwich.

I was in the audience of The Late Late Show three weeks ago, full of wine and nerves. After the show was over, we were brought into the greenroom which was full of equally wine-plied, relieved family members and – crucially – trays of sandwiches.

Without thinking, I picked up one of those little triangles and mindlessly ate it without pausing to think about what grave error I had made.

I was annoyed at myself because I hadn’t done it purposefully, and I could think of a hundred better ways to break the diet other than a sliced pan sandwich, which had been left out hours before I got to it and was stale from air conditioning.

Safe to say a chicken fillet burger from Luigi’s would have trumped it.

My newfound discipline

Honestly, though, that little ham triangle is the only time I have actually eaten meat over the last four weeks, and I am as shocked as anyone at my newfound discipline.

I’m not an all-or-nothing type of person, and I stay away from extremes as much as possible. There is no way of being a vegetarian without being a little bit extreme though – you can’t just eat meat when you fancy it, or after you smell your boyfriend’s burger in a high-end Longford establishment.

Staying away from meat for this long has shown me the value in being strict and the sense of achievement in being disciplined.

It can be easy to make excuses, to explain away poor decisions or a lack of commitment. Really, the world wouldn’t have stopped spinning if I had a bite of a burger when hungover, and I would still come away from these six weeks without feeling like a fraud.

But it made me think – how often do I explain away poor decisions, or a lack of commitment, when really there is no excuse for it?

At the end of the day, the only person you are fooling is yourself. It is possible to lose weight, to run faster, to get more sleep or perform better at work if you just keep your own promises.

Being strict with this aspect of my diet has shown me the joy of taking control over what I can in life.

Tough love

I know it is important, too, to know when to let go, to not beat yourself up about perceived bad choices and how to be kind to yourself. But a little tough love is no harm either for a woman who is perfectly adept at self-care.

I suspect this resilience will come in handy as I face into the next two weeks of that dreaded, dreaded word: veganism.

I shiver at the thought of it; whisper it in corridors rather than say it outright.

What in the world will I do without cheese?

Eggs have become a staple for when I need a fast vegetarian dinner, and as for the ban on honey – it is simply ridiculous. Bees love making honey.

What else would they be at?

I have enough olive spread and coconut oil in the cupboards to host a WWE smackdown in my apartment and the array of nut milks in the fridge is confusing.

How does one milk an almond? More importantly, how does the almond feel about that? Are we taking baby almonds away from their mammies?

In an act of great charity, the Happy Pear brothers have kindly offered me a vegan cooking course, which I’m hoping will ease the transition.

It seems those dreaded Greystones twins – with their seemingly boundless capacity for self-flagellation – are the only ones who can save me now.

Niamh Towey is writing a weekly column about cutting meat from her diet – first by adhering to a pescatarian diet, then vegetarian, and finally vegan.

Part 1: Embracing the challenge
Part 2: I feel a little . . . empty

Part 3: Crying into my dhal
Part 4: Life is busy
Part 5: Confession about a ham sandwich

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