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No meat? no problem!

Young vegetarian group

From left to right: Ingrid, Kirsty, Ruby, Hema, Zoe (at table, sitting in front of Hema), Kirstin, Tracey (behind Kirstin), Rachel, Amber and Ella.

For more info and /or to get involved on Vegetarian Youth Group/s contact Jo:
Phone: 382-0812
Text: 021 259 1549
or send an email to the co-ordinator

Visit the Vegetarian Christchurch website

Pulse wanted to find out how young people in Christchurch get on when they decide to become vegetarians. So we asked Kirsty, Zoe and Amber of the Christchurch Vegetarian Youth Group to answer some of the common questions that crop up when when people decide they don’t want meat to be part of their diet any more.

What made you become a vegetarian?
Kirsty
As a young child I asked my mother what beef was and where it came from, and she wouldn't tell me at first— she said “you won't like it”. When she finally told me beef was cow, I refused to eat it any more. A short time later I saw a rather — graphic documentary on television that revealed the truth about meat and where it came from. After that I slowly started to fight against being made to eat any kind of meat.
Zoe
It kind of went in steps. Step one: oh my god, this is an animal, you never told me that! Step two: no way I’m not eating this anymore! and there, step three: I’m veggie.
Amber
I felt really bad eating animal products and I just didn’t like eating them. It made me feel upset.
What’s the thing you’d most hate to eat and why?
Kirsty
Any meat. Not only did it use to be alive, but the ways animals are killed — in the western world in particular — are appalling.
Zoe
My old pet dog for obvious reasons, do I really need to name them?
Amber
Meat, cos it’s been killed.
What do you eat if you don’t eat meat?— isn’t it all lentils and mung-beans?
Kirsty
No, it’s not! I am personally made to eat a wide variety of nut and lentil products by my mother so I “get enough protein”, but there are many ways to get the same nutrients without meat.
Zoe Apples
No, you just eat normal stuff like toast and spaghetti, I don’t even eat lentils or mung beans more than once or twice a year on average. Being veggie doesn’t mean you only eat veges and beans— it just means you don’t eat meat.
Amber
You can eat lots of things like vegetarian shepherd’s pie, veggie sausages and lasagna. I eat a lot more nicer foods now than when I was a meat eater.
Is it difficult to cut out meat and animal products from your diet?
Kirsty
It depends on where you live, who you live with and who you are. If you know what you are doing when you go vegetarian or vegan and you still continue to eat sensibly, you shouldn’t find it as hard. It is also really important to be supported by other people, and having your friends and family understanding why you are vegetarian without being negatively judgmental is one of the things that helps the most. 
Zoe
No, it’s not like there aren’t a billion other things in the world. In every single country there’s other stuff; it’s not like you have to look hard. Walk in a supermarket you’ll more likely see some shelves of vegetarian stuff than shelves of meat, it’s the huge majority of food, meat’s just one little thing like cereal or even less.
Amber
No, it’s not hard at all. If you remember that you don’t want to hurt animals, it’s easy.
What’s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?
Kirsty
A vegetarian is someone who does not eat any meat. A vegan is someone who does not consume or use any animal products, e.g. dairy products, such as milk, eggs or leather.
What are the main benefits of becoming vegetarian or vegan?
Kirsty
You make a difference to the lives of animals somewhere in the world, either directly or indirectly. The other main benefit is the healthier lifestyle and decreased risk of developing diseases like heart problems or cancer.
Zoe
You’re not the reason for millions of deaths, health, environment and oh, yeah, there are no good reasons for not being vege so any for going vege automatically rule.
Amber
You don’t feel bad about what you are eating.
Are there any pitfalls to watch out for?
Kirsty
The one I face on a frequent basis is how other people react when they find out I’m vegetarian. I don’t like the way some people assume my vegetarianism hinders the way I live life. I have come across people who thought being a vegetarian made me either unhealthy, underweight or anorexic, mentally or physically disadvantaged, or even close to dying. It would be nice to not have to prove these people wrong. And I’m not dead yet.
Zoe
Just make sure you check what you buy (ingredients) and it’s simple.
Amber
There are lots of things that have animal products in them that you can’t tell. Like chips have milk in them and jellies have gelatin. You have to read the label.
Where are the best places to buy vegetarian food in Christchurch?
LunchKirsty
Q-mart. (353 Riccarton Road, opposite Bush Inn Centre)
Zoe
Anywhere— just your average supermarket or shop (that happens to have loads of sweets and chocolate).
Amber
Chip shops that cook in vegetable oil are great.
Why become part of the young vegetarian group?
Kirsty
You get to meet other young people who share the same lifestyle and passions as you do, you learn that you are not alone as a vegetarian or vegan, and you get to cook and eat lots of yummy things!
Zoe
It’s fun, there’s good food (which always includes dessert so what more persuasion do you need?)
Amber
It’s given me lots of new ideas for food and meeting other new people who are also vegetarian.
Can you recommend any library resources for vegetarians?
Kirsty
At the Upper Riccarton Library in the Young Adult area there is a whole shelf filled with vegetarian and vegan recipe books. See vegetarian cookery in the library catalogue.
Zoe
Just search the web on google and you’ll find anything you need, better than driving down to a library.
Amber
Meals without meat by Alison Holst.
What’s your favourite vegetarian meal?— share the recipe with us...
Kirsty
It’s not exactly a meal, but I present...

Vegan fudge!
500g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
3 TB milk (or soya milk for vegan fudge, the resulting taste is no different)
3/4 cup margarine (160g)

Melt margarine in a pot. Add the salt and vanilla. Add the sifted icing sugar, cocoa and milk. Stir quickly over a low heat so that it is all mixed together. Remove from heat as soon as mixed. Pour into a non-stick or lightly greased pan and cook. Don’t over cook, though, as fudge will become gritty, or in extreme cases, black. For variation chopped nuts can be added.

Zoe
Spaghetti’s the simplest of my favorites that’s not dessert (not the yucky canned type, proper spaghetti) with proper sauce made then fresh with herbs and stuff. It only takes 25 mins so you can make it like three times a week if you want, it’s great. Don’t know the recipe, don’t use one, just know how. You can change the ingredients (in the sauce) easily to make it yummier or adapt to what you have in the house.
What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about becoming a vegetarian?
Kirsty
Don’t let what other people think affect you. Find other vegetarians, vegans or wannabes who, like you, have chosen to try and make a different for the billions of animals facing cruelty, abuse and violent deaths. If you ever have any doubts while becoming a vegetarian, just think of the reason you went vegetarian. Maybe think of the animals and why you are doing this for them.
Zoe
Every time you’re thinking about eating meat just think of a pet or a friend’s pet and imagine it’s them because it might as well be, you’re still eating the dead flesh of an animal. Oh, and don’t try and make hardout fancy veggie foods and soups (I don’t think soups should qualify as food they’re just some random stuff with water like orange juice- part water, part other stuff but that’s just my thought) just make some of your normal food without the meat e.g. if you usually put ham or tuna in your macaroni cheese or something like that just leave it out or swap it for one of the loads of other things that are veggie and taste almost exactly the same.
Amber
Just go for it. It makes you feel much better about who you are.

October 2007, updated Feb 2010