As you might have noticed, I am partial to a bit of vegetarian food, that is not to say I don’t eat or enjoy meat, but I have always enjoyed eating a varied diet and often pick the veggie dish when eating out…..providing it’s not just a bland token effort, vegetable pasta bake just does not do it for me!
Now it seems as society there are lots of movements aimed at reducing meat consumption from Meat Free Monday to Veganuary to going plant based. For a whole variety of reasons there is a trend towards going meat free, from animal welfare and environment, to health benefits to simply cutting costs , going meat free does have a lot of positive benefits.
But how easy is it to reduce your meat consumption or take the plunge to go meat free?!?
To put this to the test 4 months ago I decided to go meat free mid-week, and I have absolutely loved it! Even my husband who is a total carnivore is enjoying the change in diet….well most of the time that is…..over the last few months there have been some lows….watery lentils, some soggy aubergine and the cauliflower pancakes were just weird. But overall the small changes we’ve made have been a success; here are my top shopping list essentials to make going meat free easy.
My absolute favourite once I worked out how to cook them that is. Lentils make a brilliant substitute for mince in a lasagne or a moussaka from a taste and health perspective, as they are a good source fibre and protein and are almost fat free. If I’m not using them to substitute meat I use them to make a delicious mid-week dahl.
Sticking to the curry theme I have discovered an absolutely love for boiled eggs in a curry, so easy and tasty, they help to bulk up a vegetable curry providing protein and essential vitamins and minerals. I’ve also become addicted to the middle eastern dish Shakshuka, I just love the baked eggs in a rich tomato sauce with lots of vegetables.
I use them in absolutely everything, curries, shakshuka, pasta dishes, chilli’s they are my saviour. Not that I can always easily find them out here, there’s always plenty of whole tinned tomatoes ready for me to begrudgingly chop though.
It’s not quite the same as a traditional Pad Thai but I love using broccoli instead of chicken and prawns in a Pad Thai, it is just as satisfying and tastes great with chopped up peanuts. It also works really well in any stir fry and if you’re feeling in need of some comforting food, broccoli and cauliflower cheese makes a tasty treat.
I love peppers especially red peppers they are so versatile, from crunchy raw peppers in salads, to stir fry’s, to curries, to roasted veg and when they are stuffed they are the star on the plate, I love to stuff peppers with cous cous for lunch and rice or lentils for a dinner.
These are my essentials but there are so many delicious options out there, it’s all about experimenting and using the produce you enjoy and that you can easily source locally.
If you are thinking of reducing your meat consumption, embracing meat free Monday or cutting out meat completely from my experience I would definitely recommend it. It has helped us to eat a more balanced diet, reduced the weekly shopping costs, and not to mention the positive impact it can have on animals and the environment.
Take a look at my recipe section for some easy meat free recipes.