I’m not a vegetarian but my wife Helen is so i often enjoy vegetarian food, particularly vegetable curries. Nom nom.
Helen was born with a condition called Phenylketonuria (PKU for short), which means her cells can’t break down an amino acid called Phenylalanine. Amino acids are like building blocks that are assembled to make proteins, which themselves are larger building blocks that make up our cells and carry out reactions in our cells, as enzymes. In Ireland, all babies are checked for PKU at birth by taking a small blood samples from the heel, called the “Heel Prick Test”. If they are diagnosed with PKU then they are looked after really well by the brilliant people in Temple St Children’s Hospital – Helen goes back once a year for a routine check up.
Having PKU means that she can only have a small amount of protein every day (about 5 or 6 g, which is about what you would find in an egg) so as meat contains a lot of protein, she avoids eating it. However, when she was pregnant with our son Charlie, she was able to eat an extra amount of protein for him to use (he got the protein through his umbilical cord from her placenta). This meant that she was able to eat a small amount of meat as a treat, so I stopped off at KFC once a week to bring her home Spicy Chicken Wings. Her favourite!