• Manuela Cochat

The weird way I became vegetarian

This quarantine sent me back to my parent’s house. I was living in London and in two days I packed a few clothes and flew back to Portugal. I’m going to be honest, I thought it was going to be for a month. Almost 4 months later here I am living the good countryside life. Don’t take me wrong I like this peaceful life but I love big cities more. And with small cities comes always one of my worst nightmares. FOOD! Yes, I love food. I love all the colours and flavours that a vegetarian diet has. It’s fun and I can’t get bored of it.

girl eating vegan cake
Vegan cake made by my brother @oscar.cochat

But here I am back to the town where it all started. 11 years ago being vegetarian in a small Portuguese town was a challenge. It’s still a challenge in this country btw. Let me take you back to my teenage years. I was 16 when I went to New York and while wandering around a Virgin store I came across a t-shirt. The slogan “I am not a nugget. Go vegan” caught my eye and I bought the t-shirt without knowing what Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was. Back home I googled it and it changed my life forever. I used to eat everything. Even Arroz de Cabidela which is chicken rice jazzed up with chicken blood and vinegar. It’s a traditional Portuguese dish. But now there was a whole different world where people didn’t eat meat. It all made sense to me. Vegetarians had always existed. How didn't I think about this before?! And why did no one ever tell me how the meat industry worked?! The way I saw food changed. But of course, with 16 years old my parents told me to shut up and took it as a phase. I was sad at the time! It’s difficult to feel that you’re right but someone invalidates your choice. Since they didn’t allow me to be vegetarian, I quit milk which was already a big deal at the time. Finally two years later I felt that at 18 I could do whatever I wanted. It was an important moment for me. So I did my birthday party in a vegetarian restaurant to celebrate this new phase of my life. My mom told me she would never cook for me and did all the food that I used to love. She was trying hard to make me quit, but it didn’t work! At the beginning it wasn’t easy because I didn’t know how to cook all the veggie food (tofu, seitan, tempeh etc). Sometimes the food was bad but I would smile and continue to eat to prevent my family from saying anything.

So this time when I arrived to my little town the first thing I did was a big order on Bulk Powders. I love their Peanut Butter, can’t live without that...The first month I ate unpalatable tofu and seitan. Then I found out that Lidl and a bio local store had good quality ones. And Vegan Ben&Jerry’s is finally sold here too. I feel like a little kid on Xmas morning when I go to the supermarket and find something vegan. The only thing I miss is eating out. In London I'm always trying new places and food. Here the only take away I have is pizza ahah

How about you? Let me know your story, how it all started for you. If you're not vegetarian have you thought about it?

Places to start:


Vegan Nights |

Restaurants in London that will make you fall in love with vegan food:

Brasserie Cloud Twelve |

Vegan Yes | |

Mooshies |

Crosstown Doughnuts |


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