Animal Aid

Kirsten takes the Veggie Challenge (and survives to tell the tale!)

Posted 1 June 2002

CBBCTV presenter Kirsten O'Brien took the Veggie Challenge for Veggie Month - and survived rather well.

Did you find it easy being veggie for a week?

Yes, and I didn't miss anything I usually have like fish or chicken. I do have to confess that on one occasion my friend brought out some tuna paté sandwiches and I automatically went for them, but she stopped me just in time!

Do you feel healthier for not eating meat for a week?

I used to just live on meals from the BBC canteen, but I spend more time at home now and can think a lot more about my diet. I've got a juicer, so I went out and bought shed-loads of fruit and have been having these huge fruit drinks.

Were your friends helpful or supportive?

My dad finds it hard to get his head round me being vegetarian, because he's from a different generation. He always says, 'I don't know what you eat' and gets in a bit of a panic. All my friends are OK about being veggie.

Kirsten O'Brien tucks into a veggie burger!

What sorts of foods did you eat?

I was a bit nervous on that first Monday going for lunch with my agent. I was kind of panicking, thinking oh God, day one, I'm going to have a nightmare. But at Pizza Express there was so much to eat that it was no problem at all. I had a delicious salad that evening, and quiche and chips the next day. One day I had these lovely veggie frankfurter hotdog sausages from Safeway, which were great.

What advice would you give young people who are thinking of going veggie?

Just that there's so much to eat like the hotdog sausages I mentioned. Veggie 'chicken' fillets are realistic and you can have bangers and mash with those lovely veggie sausages. It's a case of getting down to your local supermarket and seeing what alternative foods you can have.

Which animal issues do you feel strongly about?

I don't agree with hunting. I think they should ban it. I really think that the government came in with that as a promise. I don't like factory farming either - I'm not very happy about that.

Savoury strudel

In what ways do you think young people can help stop animal cruelty?

It's a question of becoming involved. I believe if consumers make a stand then things will change. You can use cruelty-free products like shampoos and cosmetics and environmentally-friendly goods like recycled paper.

What sorts of things will you be covering in the next series of the SMart? When do you start filming again?

Bizarrely we're going to be painting and doing up some toilets in a school in Taunton with a Posh and Beck's thrones design. We start filming again in May.

After the interview we popped over to Camden market for a well deserved and rather delicious veggie burger!

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