Meat Dodging Week 4 – a minor slip

Sunday –

img_4298Awoke in Marrakesh to find breakfast waiting on the balcony again. I could get used to this. Set yogurts, fruit, OJ and a sort of potato pancake. Then scrambled eggs to follow.

Took a bus tour to the ancient olive groves (bus tour is rubbish, just get a cab) and sipped on freshly squeezed OJ.

Then headed to the main market which was like something out of a film. Monkeys on chains (sadly), snake charmers, fruit sellers, dodgy handbags, local handicrafts and beggars everywhere. Kept expecting Indiana Jones or 007 to run through in pursuit of a villain.

We haggled a bit and drank some freshly pressed pomegranate juice and bought a massive bag of nuts to munch on.

img_4277The main cafes in this area are on the roofs of the shops up narrow staircases and easily missed. We stopped at one of the few that had meat free options and I had falafel and an abundance of veg, pickles and stuff I could barely recognise and what should have been a salad but was more like cous cous with veg mixed in.

For dinner we picked the cabaret show at the Buddha Bar. Same owners as the London venue, with dancers and oriental food. I picked vegetable dim sum to start, decent enough and proved that with enough soy sauce you have no idea what’s in a dumpling or gyoza.

Main course was tricky. Nothing on menu appealed and language barrier made getting anything special request a push. In the end I went for prawn noodles and let the wife eat the prawns. Her beef in black bean looked good and I grudgingly tried a few bites when she couldn’t finish it. My first meat in three weeks. 😱 It tasted fine but didn’t make me want to transgress further. I’ve sort of gone off meat which is not something I thought I’d ever say. Be like admitting to going off breathing. Also realising that most meals are about the spices, sauces and seasoning so whether that’s stuck on a bit of meat of a bit of veg makes little difference. Except asparagus. That can still fuck off.

No running today, but maybe 8 mile of walking.

Monday –

Hotel breakfast again with scrambled egg.

moroccan-lamb-tagine-2-500x484After a wander around the palace we popped to the market for lunch options. Again most were very meat based, or vegetable couscous again. Wary of a further Satan’s testicle I gave into the easy option and ordered olive pizza whilst wife tucked into a lamb tagine. Definitely finding meat free options are a bit carb heavy without forward planning. I may turn into a potato of pizza base.

cf3b6579-b084-4e11-b322-dc88d6c82ae7We spend the afternoon at a roof top bar drinking beer in the shade and thinking how much better than a normal Monday this was.

Back at the airport for the flight home, veggie options again were poor so went for cheese roll. It worked out better value to get with chips, to add carbs to the carbs….

No running but about 7 miles of walking.

Tuesday –

Back home and it’s cold. 5k with dog before leaving for a site meeting in Glastonbury (the town not the festival sadly). Traffic poor so just a cereal bar I found in the boot for breakfast.


Gave in on way home to a late lunch. Nothing in M&S, Greggs is closed. Went to McDonalds for the veggie burger, feeling a failure as I ordered but beyond the point of hunger where you can make sensible choices. It was either that or eat a passing chaffinch.

4 mile tempo run with the Redway Runners. 4 miles at just under 7min/mile pace but hard work. Got back intending not to eat dinner to make up for poor lunch but was kids leftover Mac’N’cheese that looked too good and I inhaled it.

Wednesday –

Working from home due to a poorly son. 9 mile run in the pre-dawn morning and gradually getting some half decent pace back.

Breakfast granola with yoghurt.

Lunch was a Quorn chicken slice sandwich. Tasted much like chicken to be honest. The dog liked it too.

Dinner of spinach, tomato and feta pasta salad

Thursday –

Morning 5k with dog. She jumped up and bit through the poo bags I had on the lead to use. Then did a massive poo. Whilst I attempted to clear it with a shredded bag she rolled in fox poo. So now we’re both stuck by the river with excrement on us. Great. Dogs are really awesome and not the least bit annoying. I nearly drowned her.

Breakfast granola, and then a dentist visit 

Lunch of Quorn chicken sandwich again, and then accidentally inhaled a packed of Percy Pig sweets I found in cupboard. Not the best balanced diet.

img_4351Made the kids a quick noodle dinner before dropping at Guides. Joined the Lakeside Runners for a 10 mile run. Started slowly then after some dropped off at 3 miles to take a route back I spent next 7 hanging onto Chris at a pace that was a bit more effort than it should be.

Back home the wife and I had vegetable gratin.  Like a fishcake but veg in place of the fish. Tasted ok with some sauce.

Friday –

Morning 10k in woods with the dogs. Apple & banana breakfast. Lunch of cheese and onion sandwich and banana. Dinner was toasted cheese balls and arancini rice balls with beer. Double cheese was not intentional.

Saturday –

img_4364Should have been up early for footie dad duties but boy was poorly so stayed in bed. Nipped out for parkrun with dog with peanut butter bagel on route. Lunch of scrambled eggs. Dinner was Quorn chicken with extra protein noodles made by wife, hunger pangs later on so had crisp snack in front of telly under excuse of carb loading for the next day race.

Sunday –

haretortMarathon day. Normally would have McD breakfast before a marathon. First two as a veggie I skipped this and suffered from lack of energy (and a hangover I admit) so called in and had Egg McMuffin, hash brown and coffee.

Marathon went OK for first 5 mile lap (apart from mud so thick I couldn’t stay up). Lap 2 I changed shoes and ran well, catching those that had passed me during wardrobe change. Lap 3 was OK but started to flag with heavy legs. Fuelling with coke, water, Jaffa cakes, banana and mars bar sections. Final two laps were hard work, unsure how much the mud was a factor.

Managed 3h54. Last year I narrowly missed 3h30. Still it’s marathon 138ish done and dusted and I think my 97th sub4hr.

For dinner we had a full Sunday roast. I ignored the beef and had parsnips, peas, cheese cauliflower, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding and roast spuds. Didn’t really mind ignoring the meat. Post run hunger kicked in an hour later and cheese and biscuits were called for.

So that is 4 weeks of trying to be a veggie, with one transgression whilst abroad.  That’s likely more days than I’ve been meat free cumulatively the last decade or more.

Things I’ve learnt – 

  • The range of veg I eat is limited but grows each week. Desperation will do this. I expect cannibals start the same way. Run out of cows and eat the neighbour’s pet. When they complain eat them too.
  • Most veggies aren’t that bad. But seriously some have no reason to exist and are an affront to big bang/Darwinism/god etc.
  • It’s hard travelling with work and being rubbish at planning meals and prepping ahead.
  • I like stuff in carbs. Breaded stuff. Sandwich. Stuff in pasty. I don’t much care what the stuff is so meat substitutes have featured fairly heavily. Most taste as good as the real thing.
  • Veggie options are all too often just pasta or pizza. Even more carbs than even I want.
  • Sauces, pickles, spices, flavourings all help hide the vegetables. 
  • A veggie diet does seem to be helping me lose weight (was down to 82kg before the excesses of holiday).
  • My running is definitely on a lull currently. I’ve covered over 3000 miles this year, and some hard ultras so how much is tiredness, how much is diet is hard to judge. 



Meat Dodging Week 3

Monday –

Early morning 5k with dog then a long drive to Bridgewater. Awful traffic so no time for breakie and make do with banana and apple in car. Late lunch on way home of Greggs Vegan sausage roll to try it out again (had one about a year ago when first introduced). Tastes pretty good with coffee and juice. Dinner I knock up pulled BBQ chicken for kids and try some of the Vivera Plant Shawarma Kebab ‘meat’. Once cooked up with some tomatoes and peppers and served with garlic mayo it tastes the same as donna kebab. This is good or bad depending on whether you like donna kebab.

Tuesday –

Early morning 5k with dog then full day training course at work after toast breakfast. Didn’t pack a lunch as it’s catered according to our dietary requirements. Which I filled in four weeks ago when I ate meat. So I became one of those veggies that assures everyone it’s fine, and that they don’t feel left out as they tuck into their emergency noodles kept in the car for days stuck on site. Training drags a little and after two bananas I give in to the biscuits. Lots and lot of biscuits.

Back home and I decide to risk a speed session for first time since knee played up in September. 6m40s pace session is a little too fruity so stick to 7m30 pace and feel good, averaging around 7min pace for 4 mile loop. Follow this with a second run as other club are doing an Oregon session. Sadly this doesn’t involve EPO, steroids or other drugs, just intervals of running between squats, lunges, spotty dogs (no idea either) and planks. It’s all designed to improve core and hopeful they’ll aid my knee strength as well.

For dinner the wife rustles up mozzarella and tomato pizza, followed by yoghurt and nuts.

Check the scales before bed and at 82kg it’s the lightest I’ve been in months, probably since summer.

 Wednesday –

9 mile 5am run. I’ve run most weeks for last 4 years and recently have had a prolonged bad spell. Today I feel better and manage quickest average pace since Lakeland 100 in July and for once not hanging off the back of the pack the entire way. Granola breakfast once back with fruit yoghurt.

Catered lunch again, this time with veggie stuff so cheese and tomato, egg and cress sandwiches and a bowl of salad. All stuff I wouldn’t previously bother with.

Dinner was veggie sausages in bagel with cheese and a change to compare real and fake sausages. Similar protein, lower calories, taste about the same. Daughter prefers the veggie option.

Thursday –

img_42005k soggy doggy jog. Scrambled egg on toast for breakfast then a long train ride to Liverpool and back. Waiting for a late train I shelter from cold in Wetherspoons and have (yet another) veggie burger. Not too bad. Big lunch so dinner is cheese and crackers. Planned evening run missed as packing for weekend away.

Friday –

6 mile dog run in woods. Skipped breakfast as didn’t have time between conference calls and getting ready for flight.

img_4207At the airport on way to Marrakesh for the wife’s birthday we checked a few restaurants but was a little underwhelmed by veggie options. Eventually popped into a restaurant for mac’n’cheese with tomato and pesto – scrumptious!

Grabbed a cheese roll on plane and then into the waiting taxi to the riad.

We’d looked at a lot of hotels for this trip and eventually settled on an authentic riad, a small hotel set around a courtyard with pool in the middle. Stepping inside instantly deadened the hustle and bustle of the city.

The staff served up chicken tagine for wife and vegetable cous cous for me, with a lot of side dishes and a lemon tart for dessert.

Not sure what had the veg I ate were, but willingly ate the carrot for first time ever. I tried something I hoped was spud, thought might be parsnips (also like) but sadly was Satan’s boiled testicle. Some vegetables can do one.

Saturday –

Awoke after along sleep to find breakfast waiting on the balcony. Set yogurts, fruit, OJ and a sort of potato pancake. Then plain omelette to follow.


We walked out and through the local food market where live chickens awaited their fate in cages and the fish was so fresh it was almost odourless. Also some turtles and tortoises that I presume were more for pets than food. Not sure either is great news. The market was certainly an eye opener.

After a haman (spa) experience where we were beaten and rubbed to within an inch of our lives we popped to a restaurant recommended by a friend for the best pizza outside of Italy. It was pretty good and I had pepper and onion topping whilst looking out over the famous mosque.


After some shopping we popped back to the riad and were surprised by the chef bringing us some vegetable spring rolls (or Moroccan equivalent) to accompany the beer, along with some mixed nuts and dried fruit.

We went with the hotel recommendation of a local French restaurant for dinner. The steak was to die for (says the wife). Of the few veggie options I went for aubergine starter (first go at this, not too bad) and Gorgonzola pasta which was disappointingly devoid of any side salad or veg with it. Having written the meal off nutritionally we shared a melting chocolate fondant dessert.

No running but about 7 miles of walking.

3rd week of veggie done.

Not really missing the meat but finding veggie options a little tricky especially in a foreign country.


Meat Dodging Week 2

Well the first week blog got a lot of reaction so lets keep it going!

Monday – Apple, banana and satsuma for breakie with a bagel. Lunch was a slight improvement on the much derided Pot Noodle with a pasta, feta and tomato salad from M&S. Crisps for snack. Avoided heading to the food van.

The kids had been tended to by the Mother In Law with a beef enchilada dinner so I made do with a salad wrap. And by salad I mean potatoes. And by potatoes I mean chips. Yep basically a chip buttie. Downside of becoming veggie is forgetting to tell people.

No running as resting from the double marathon weekend.

Tuesday – Morning 6 mile run with dog. Random leftover kids cereal that they’ve decided not to eat anymore. Coffee is black as we run out of milk.

A planned omelette lunch was swapped to scrambled egg on toast when I remembered the lack of milk.

img_4142Dinner I knocked up teriyaki tofu, veggie & noodles. First go at tofu. Looks like slightly set Polyfilla in the packet and even hardened veggies admit it tastes of nothing unless seasoned. With the teriyaki it was really good. Made up the same again with chicken for rest of family. Probably went a bit light on the veggies as underestimated quite how much they reduce in volume and have a fussy son (wonder where he gets that from?).

Wednesday – 9 mile pre-work run. Been doing the same route for maybe 4 years every week so had good and bad runs. Haven’t had a good run in months due to ultra legs. This week it was still a little slow on the hills but improved towards the end. Think lacklustre performance more due to the marathons than the veggie food.

img_4144Breakfast of apple and banana, with a chocolate pastry as I fancied it. Needed to get to site early so called into Sainsburys to find the deliveries were late and store was bereft of food. Cobbled together bagel and peanut butter for lunch.

Dinner was roast spuds, BBQ sauce tofu and oven roasted asparagus and tomato. I struggled on the asparagus. It’s not nice. As a kid I called it elephant snot and ran around the house with it hanging out my nose asking if anyone had a tissue. Comedy genius in the making. My mum found me infuriating/hilarious.

Whilst cooking that I made a second batch of the teriyaki tofu, veggie & noodles from the spare ingredients and stuck in freezer for another night. This batch was 2/3 veg to 1/3 noodles as I got braver on the veg.

Thursday – no morning run, had porridge breakfast at office. Ran out of honey to sweeten. Used peanut butter. Not recommended but sort of livened it up. Apple for snack. Then bagel and peanut butter lunch (again) as nothing worth eating on sandwich van. Need to plan better.

Dinner fell apart. Too busy to sort anything, wife ate at work so an early night with a bag of chips after 10 mile club run. Classy. Another example of needing to plan better.

Friday – 10k dog jog in the woods. Banana for breakfast, forgot to eat lunch after dentist appointment. Dinner was a homemade cottage pie with tofu, broccoli, mushroom, carrot, onion, garlic and spud mash. Bagel and banana dessert.

Saturday – a cookie from the charity bake sale at parkrun after a 10k run. Lunch of cheese sandwich and banana with some onion cheesy version of a sausage roll.


Then off to a wedding. Managed to resist the goat curry. Remained strong and stuck to veggie stuff, pasta, coleslaw, dumplings, salad. Think I’m starting to like coleslaw and not just eat it out of penance like before. Maybe I’m growing up? Then hit the cheese board hard. Bordering on cheese sweats.

Sunday – late start after a late night so grabbed a doughnut on way to rugby with boy and stood next to the BBQ where they cooked bacon for a solid 2 hours. Avoided the temptation. Two weeks ago I’d have punched a nun for a bacon buttie.

Lunch was stolen wedding cheese with crackers, a homemade smoothie with discount fruit from the supermarket. Then a 5 mile dog run to get the car. Felt slow and lethargic again.

Dinner we went out with family to Harvester and I tried the new Quorn BBQ stack. First go at Quorn. This was pretend chicken breast and pretty good. Massive bowl of salad with it, and halloumi fries.


Supportive wife went to supermarket earlier in the day so have some healthy veg stuff for next week.

Weight as usual up and down over the week, but briefly hit 83kg, lowest for months.

Only impending issue is we’re off the Morocco next weekend. Unsure how well being veggie in a land of lamb tagine will be?


Meat Dodging Week 1 – 2 sucky marathons

game-changersSo I’m trying to be vegetarian – Yes I’ve watched “The Game Changers”.

It happened by accident. Also happened on probably the least suitable week with two marathons, loads on and family away so I was relying on eating out and ready meals. Hence why the hardcore vegetarians will cry at this haphazard attempt at starting meat dodging.

Saturday – After beans and hotdogs for lunch (not had it in years, had a strange urge) I sit down with a poorly son for some sofa time. He’s fiddling on his phone so I wander around Netflix and flick on The Game Changers. Never heard of it. Something about athletes and running. Turns out I’ve accidentally hit the zeitgeist and it’s THE film everyone is talking about.

For a decent objective review of the film (it is pretty one sided) then I’d go have a look here –

In a slightly biased presentation it makes a good argument for a meat free diet (and veganism), with examples of athletes who haven’t just managed without meat, but gone on to improve and be world class. I’ve been pondering vegetarianism for a while partly for environmental reasons, partly for the animals themselves, partly to avoid being such a hefty lump around the marathon course. On a recent holiday the restaurant had a suckling pig on the carvery and the full honest presentation of a cute baby animal on a chopping board was enough to turn my stomach and made me question why eating piglets felt abhorrent yet I could happily tuck into bacon for days. The film re-awoken the quandary in my brain.

The chicken we’d planned to have for dinner is out of date so it goes in the bin and we order pizza. I make a concession to meat free and go for tuna rather than the usual meat feast. It’s no less tasty.

Sunday – Cereal and toast for breakfast and I miss lunch as out for a 11 mile run with dog and Gary. For dinner we have cheese tortellini. No meat. Son kicks off and has some ham on his for a version of carbonara.  I’ve had my first intentional meat free day and feel OK.

Monday – 3 mile pre-work dog run, bagel and banana breakfast, with a Pot Noodle lunch as everything on the sandwich van today is meat based. Dinner was a spinach and ricotta cannelloni as rushing out to cinema. I didn’t think I like spinach. I was right. It goes in the bin (well dog). It’s not terrible but I’m simply not hungry enough to eat it which is probably a sign I over eat. The wife points out a dislike of vegetables may be an issue for an aspiring vegetarian. At the cinema I manage to avoid sweets and junk and have just a white filter coffee.

Tuesday – Banana breakfast after a 6 mile dog jog. Mid-morning cereal. Cheese on crumpet for lunch. Not hungry for dinner so have a slice of toast and peanut butter after supervising the daughters pumpkin carving and make a start on decorating.

img_4116Wednesday – 9 mile run in the hills, banana breakfast, apple for snack. Hunger builds and on the way between sites I call into a McDonalds as there’s little else around and I wonder what options they have in my new meat free lifestyle. I pick the veggie burger which has two chicken goujon looking fingers of breaded ‘stuff’. Seems to be vegetables and pesto and tastes pretty great. I’d even chose to eat this over a beef burger on occasion. Energy wanes over the afternoon of teleconferences so I have a chocolate bar. For dinner the kids have already eaten, wife gets stuck on a piss poor train system and eats on journey home. In between coats of emulsion I wolf down a tin of baked beans with grated cheese. Eating straight out the microwave just like a student.

Thursday – no runs planned for today just work and decorating. Breakfast apple and porridge. Lunch of egg mayo sandwich and crisps (athlete) as nothing much else on the food van and not organised a packed lunch. Wife and kids have popped to Ireland for a family party so I’m on my own until Sunday. Consequently I’m not sure I even had dinner as busy decorating and annoying the dog with 90s rap music until 1am (her favourite is Biggie Smalls and for a tangent she’s partial to House Of Pain).

Friday – It starts with vomit. It ends with vomit. Early morning 10k dog jog, after which Gary’s dog regurgitates his breakfast just by my car. Lovely start to the day! Apple and banana breakfast. So hungry at lunch I go for another McDonalds Veggie Burger.

img_4138What should be a quick pint with Redway Runners after the evening run turns into five. The dinner of veggie curry tastes great but is soon experienced again as I hug the toilet and wonder why I thought five pints before dinner was a good idea. Maybe meat is the secret to handling your beer? I’m also on close to 14 miles for the day which is probably another bad idea before a marathon.

Saturday – Wake up hungover. Throw clothes together and shove a buttered bagel down on way to the marathon. Feel like death all race. Wind and rain not ideal. Try a Kendal Mint Company gel which perks me up. Don’t normally get on with gels but the mint really cuts through the sweetness. Steady stream of Jaffa Cakes help as well. Manage to hold on for a 3h50m. My original plan had been more like 3h20 and lately anything over 3h30 is disappointing so a long way off what I’d like and the comfortable 3h24 at Chicago seems a long time ago.

img_4121I spent the whole race fantasising about a fry up breakfast. Realise I don’t know where is still serving breakfast and if they do a meat free option so grab a Domino’s pizza with onion and peppers on way home and share it with dog face as I can’t face cooking. I’m cold and hungry and need to get refuelled and into bed for an hour before more DIY replacing skirting boards.

img_4132In a déjà vu moment I’m out for the evening with mates I’ve known for over 30 years. As we lament old age in Brewdog over another five pints, I decide to soak it up with a really tasty veggie burger with sweet potato chips and coleslaw. Honestly would have this in preference to a beef burger although annoyingly it costs more. It’s very meaty in terms of taste and texture.


Sunday – The previous evening burger meant the drinks stayed down so I wake up better. Bagel and banana breakfast on route to marathon and I start at a steady pace. Initially feels great, and I have brief notions of running the most even paced 3h45 marathon in the history of the world. At around mile 10 my legs go dead and I basically trudge the rest of the way whilst shoving down Jaffa Cakes. Fortunately there are a fair few runners of similar pace so I have someone to focus on. I briefly chat to Paul off twitter who looks nothing like his profile photo and I struggle to place him. He goes on to drop me like a pumpkin on 1st November and get a PB. No fair.

img_4133My headphones go skitzy and keep turning the volume up or down, then skip tracks. It’s putting me off. Eventually I give up and nearly crap myself when an hour later the voice of Rob Deering from Running Commentary podcast randomly kicks in AT FULL VOLUME after endless silence.

Eventually the headphones go flat so I grab the spare set that annoyingly refuse to connect. With two laps to go I just need some music and I’m denied. I trudge in a 3h54, pleased to get under 4hr at least.

img_4134I treat my mum to a pub lunch (one that allows dog face to attend and beg scraps). The veggie options are limited so I end up with (another) veggie burger and salad. Also very tasty and topped with halloumi cheese. After some gardening at my mums it’s back home to walk the dog and wallpaper the lounge wall. Dinner is a sweet potato version of a Chicken Katsu Curry whilst I await return of the family. It’s pretty good as well. The chicken version is the boys favourite dinner so could be an easy swap out for me.

Overall – I’ve done 8 days of being vegetarian. Avoiding meat isn’t too bad. Mostly I’ve relied on ready meals or eating out as on my own for the weekend and fitting dinners around DIY and running. Need to focus on making some dinners up and adding more beans and good stuff. Also seen a lot of recommendations to incorporate potatoes. Maybe my usual sausage and egg McMuffin before a marathon should have been kept just without the sausage so I didn’t fall apart so much.

My meals have always been focused around the meat section, so simply cutting  that out and hoping to live off the foliage that comes with it was never going to work, hence why I’ve tried to find meat alternatives to transition over. One day I may tuck into a large salad with glee, for the time being I’d be wondering why it wasn’t in a wrap with some mayo and chicken/chicken alternative.

The marathon performances where both awful. Given the self-sabotaging of heavy drinking and DIY I can’t fully blame the outcome on the diet. I do need to get a handle on eating better though.

I still love cheese and milk so very unlikely to go vegan. Even hardened vegans admit the diary free cheese is at best ‘not as awful as expected’.

Upside – well I’ve not died. Also lost about 3kg which is handy but often do on a heavy mileage week anyway as I seldom hydrate as well as required.