I like challenges. It keeps things interesting and is a bit of a competition with myself. Usually they’re related to living healthier, like the time I didn’t drink any alcohol for seven weeks following my ankle reconstruction or when I didn’t have McDonald’s for eight months. But that’s not always the case; I just went six weeks without Facebook because I felt like I was wasting too much time on it.

My latest challenge was to be a vegetarian, and today marks my one-month anniversary without meat! If you told me six weeks ago I was going to do this I would have thought you were crazy, because to put it simply, I love meat. Steak, chicken, lamb, pork, fish… I’m salivating just thinking about eating them!

IMG_4709Vegetarian Tucumana

So, why then? As I mentioned above, I like challenges, and this was another one of them. Victoria, whom I’m travelling with, is a vegetarian and that’s where I first got the idea from but for those of you asking, no, I didn’t do it for her! Travelling with other vegetarians has caused me problems in the past, but now that I’m not eating meat, it makes choosing restaurants a lot easier and we can both try and share more dishes. Big plus.

IMG_4812Meat Handling

Secondly, and this was the real driving factor behind it, was because of the way the meat is handled here in Bolivia. It’s a bit different to nipping down to the local supermarket and choosing the meat you want in a nice glad-wrap covered package or going down to the butcher and selecting the best looking steak that’s stored in a glass-encased refrigerator. I saw meat being dragged across the floor of a truck (pictured above) and then dumped into a wheelbarrow, whilst the gentleman handling it was walking around in the truck… and then on the road. I also saw multiple bulls’ heads on the floor of the market for sale (pictured below). Let’s not even talk about the flies. Hygienic isn’t how I would describe the meat handling in this country and it was off-putting, to say the least.

IMG_4809Bull heads anyone?

In the past month I feel like I’ve been eating non-stop, but at the same time, I’ve definitely lost weight. I feel lighter, and to a certain extent, healthier. I always imagined vegetarians eating lettuce-filled salads three times per day, but this was a closed-minded view. The food has been terrific and I’ve eaten a lot of delicious burgers, tacos, various pastas, falafel, quinoa, soups and tried many fresh fruit and vegetable juices, which has really opened my eyes to the world of vegetarianism. South America is world famous for its meat but there are so many different types of food options available to vegetarians, it hasn’t been hard to adjust and I’ve only had a small taste of it.

The sustainability of the environment and animal cruelty issues are also a bonus by-product of my current lifestyle challenge. I’m not sure how long my vegetarianism will last, but for now, I’m really enjoying it. Although, I do crave a juicy Argentine steak from time to time…