I thought I’d write a quick post about our fabulous retreat meals, which are all vegetarian – or to use the newer name – plant-based! I guess that ‘plant-based’ doesn’t exclusively mean vegetarian, but all the same it has become a much more trendy name with a host of accompanying hashtags such as #plantbasedpeople
Whichever name you prefer, I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.
I am not vegetarian on moral grounds, although as I get older, and especially since my grand-daughter was born a couple of years ago, I definitely feel more strongly about not eating animals. For me though it has always been a health-based choice.
At the age of 16 I developed some issues with my digestion, issues which were still evident when I left home for university. Once there I met the love of my life and out of curiosity we decided to try being vegetarian for one week. Incredibly my digestive complications reduced and I stayed vegetarian (most of the time) for the next 20 years. The exceptions for me came each time I was pregnant, when my body just seemed to need more protein and I introduced bacon and fish to my diet.
My children were brought up initially with a vegetarian diet, but when my youngest (aged about 8) tried bacon at his Dad’s house and asked if we could have it at home too, we all gradually started eating meat on a regular basis, and they all eat meat and fish still now.
I was happy with a mixed diet until a few years ago when I once again experienced some digestive issues. I suspect my issues have always been hormonally influenced, but although no specific cause could be found, I noticed that they went away when I went back to a vegetarian diet and that is where I am today.
For lots of reasons, it makes perfect sense to me to offer vegetarian meals at my retreats:
- from my own experience, I believe it places a lighter load on the digestive system – animal proteins are more complex and therefore it seems logical to me that they are more complex to break down; since you are on retreat it makes sense to give your digestive system a retreat of its own too
- we can all benefit from increasing our intake of plant-matter, with its combination of soluble and insoluble fibres, and high nutritional content
- I don’t like feeling that I’m the odd one out, always having a ‘lesser’ option at meal times, and I was conscious that I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way either – if we all eat vegetarian meals, hopefully we all feel equally included
- with vegetarian meals there is such scope for flavour and colour and texture which we maybe forget when we eat vegetables purely as a side dish – I wanted to bring vegetables into centre-stage and make them the stars of the show
- I hope that you will go away from the retreat with some inspiration to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your usual diet, as I do believe it is best for all of our bodies and also best for the planet
When I was setting up the website for take time retreats I almost opted not to mention that we would be serving vegetarian food, just to see how long it took for (or even whether) any of our guests even noticed! In the end I decided to highlight it as a positive part of the retreat, which I truly believe it is.
I know that you are going to love the meals that Leah prepares for you, and that you won’t feel as though you are missing anything at all. Leah and I have set up each day on retreat to follow the influence of a different culture, so there will be lots of variety and a wide range of tastes to all our meals.
& finally, I’ll leave you with a little anecdote from my grand-daughter, who had been discussing with me why I didn’t eat meat a few days before this exchange at her nursery! Matilda is coming up for 3 years and this really gladdened my heart:
PS as far as I know my university love is still vegetarian!