Monday 13th June 2016 is World Meat Free Day.
I’m not vegetarian. I’m a meat-eater who struggles most days with her conscience. I realise the hypocrisy of calling myself an animal lover and then sitting down to a meal that includes meat. I’ve tried giving up completely in the past, and let’s just say it doesn’t work.* Placing that sort of restriction on my diet just makes me miserable and angry. I’m not pleasant to be around when I’m like that.
However, I do eat less meat these days than I used to. I probably eat a greater variety – in the last few years I’ve become far more adventurous with food – but less often than I used to.
I don’t eat lamb, simply because I can’t stand the smell of it cooking. And recently (65 days ago, in fact), I stopped eating pork. I love pigs, and I’ve felt a lot of guilt over the last few months about eating them. So I stopped. I won’t lie, it’s been challenging. Ever notice how many pizza toppings are pork-based? Most of them. And hidden pork in a lot of dishes when eating out has threatened to trip me up a few times. But I don’t feel as though I’m missing out, really. It’s a choice that I’ve made, and that makes it a lot easier to stick to than if I’d been told I must give it up. Plus I’ve discovered that Linda McCartney sausages are brilliant, so no worries that I’ll miss out on hot dogs when we have BBQs!
So, back to World Meat Free Day. What’s it about? Why are we being encouraged to take part?
According to the World Meat Free Day website, it’s about saving the planet. Population growth and the demand for meat is having a huge impact on the environment. If a family of four goes without meat for one day, the water saved will be the amount that one person would use in a month.
It’s also about health. That same family of four going meat-free for one day could save the amount of dietary fat found in 26 teaspoons of butter.
Check out the sustainability calculator to see how much of an impact one meat-free day for you, your family, or even your colleagues could have.
It may be easier than you think to go a day without meat. There are a lot of great vegetarian recipes out there, or you could simply substitute ingredients in your favourite recipes to make them meat-free. Here are some ideas:
– Have an omelette for breakfast. They’re quick and easy to make, and you can fill them with just about any veggies you have in the fridge. My favourite is a simple omelette with warmed cherry tomatoes and a little sprinkling of cheese.
– A big, filling salad at lunchtime doesn’t have to include meat. Try adding chickpeas, mixed beans, or eggs to your leafy greens. Give it a kick with a simple lemon, olive oil and garlic dressing, or try balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil and some dried mixed herbs.
– What about a wrap for lunch? Wrap sliced avocado and sundried tomatoes in tortilla smeared with cream cheese. Or make coronation ‘chicken’ with Quorn pieces instead, and pop that into a wrap with some lettuce.
– Use mushrooms as a substitute for meat. Chopped mushrooms are great used in place of meat in casseroles, and big portabellas make lovely vegetarian burger alternatives.
– Having chilli for dinner? Try using lentils instead of the meat. You can get quick-cook lentils that don’t require soaking, or use tinned, to make things easier.
– Tofu isn’t for everyone (personally, I prefer it to be cooked for me in a restaurant), but if you haven’t tried it, it’s worth a go. Pinterest is a gold mine for tofu recipes that look mouth-wateringly good!
– If you’re in a hurry, you could try a meat-free ready meal. I’m fond of a Quorn cottage pie, and their toad in the hole is pretty good, too. Linda McCartney kievs are on my ‘to try’ list, and lots of supermarkets have their own meat-free ranges in the chilled and frozen aisles.
Finally, here’s the link to a recipe that I absolutely love. Fiery Welsh Dragon Hash Browns, from Independent Kitchen.
It’s worth the effort to make them from scratch; a crispy, spicy hash brown topped with a poached egg is delicious, filling, and you probably won’t even notice there’s no meat on your plate!
So, are you in? Will you be going meat-free on Monday 13th June? You can pledge your support on the World Meat Free Day website. I’ll be updating after the day to tell you how it went in my household!