Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maybe You Should Try Vegging Out

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Maybe You Should Try Vegging Out

Article excerpt

More than three million of us have opted for bean curd instead of beef, and salads instead of steaks.

Vegetarianism has many converts, but for many, the thought of finding nothing in the fridge but pulses and seeds would be enough to turn their tummies.

Time was when vegetarians were viewed as hippies leading a wacky alternative lifestyle, but today many view them as the healthier quotient of society.

Two years ago pensioner Mike Casselden, of Poplar Place, South Gosforth, Newcastle, helped set up the organisation VegNE in support of his fellow veggies.

"Well I eat quiche, bean casserole, vegetable curries, lentils, chick peas, Quorn, avocados, pasta and veggie sausages ( to name but a few," said the 65-year-old as he rattled through his weekly shopping list.

The choice of meat-free diets is extensive and every year UK supermarkets ring up pounds 617m in vegetarian meals, which is expected to grow over the next year.

But is it a lifestyle choice that is worth sacrificing the delight of tucking into a slab of sirloin for, or indulging in the luxury of smoked salmon?

"Being vegetarian is a choice I made to try to improve my health and it's something I'm really pleased I did because I absolutely love it," said Mike, a grandfather-of-three.

"It was a gradual process and, at first, I did miss meat and thought I was not going to be able to keep it up. However, now when I think I used to eat pigs and other animals it does make me feel bad.

"My basic belief is I won't eat anything that has an eye. I did used to eat animal fat but I felt that was being a bit naughty so I don't eat it any more and I won't eat gelatin or anything like that."

He added: "I would never go back to eating meat and even the smell of it turns my stomach."

Mike decided to opt for the veggie lifestyle more than 15 years ago after he was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

He also suffers from high cholesterol and diabetes and felt if he stopped eating fatty meat then it would help to get rid of his health issues, or at least alleviate them.

The former chartered town planner added: "Everyone becomes a vegetarian for different reasons and mine just happens to be for health.

"In the past I did lots of low-fat diets but nothing seemed to work at lowering my cholesterol so I decided to cut out meat altogether. To be honest it didn't work but that's because I think my health factors are genetic as opposed to diet."

When Mike became vegetarian it was still quite uncommon, but now his wife Lyndsey, a library manager, his daughter and two of his young grandchildren all forgo meat.

Mike said: "Fifteen years ago vegetable burgers were terrible but now the variety of food we can chose from has increased and our options are huge. …

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