With more focus than ever before on the negative impact of animal agriculture on our planet, as well as the ongoing fight from vegetarians and vegans against animal cruelty and the recent obesity crisis, eating meat is a real hot topic right now.
Should we? Shouldn’t we? We’ve all got our own ideas. I haven’t made the jump to full-time veggie (yet!) but my consumption of animal products has DRASTICALLY reduced in the past year or so. I’d say my diet is easily 80% vegetarian.
The benefits of eating fewer animal products are obvious; even if you don’t feel able to give up meat altogether, experts say just cutting down and limiting our consumption of meat or dairy would make a huge difference, hence the soaring popularity of ‘Meat Free Monday’. If all of us whose diets are based primarily around meat gave it up for just one day a week, we could do wonders for the environment.
“Not eating meat for one day? That’s SO EASY!” Well, not for everyone. It can be a dramatic lifestyle change and quite daunting to start with. I post a lot of veggie recipes on here, so I’ve collected up five of my personal favourites to share with you and hopefully give you some inspiration for your next ‘Meat Free Monday’!
Philly Cheese “Steaks” & Sweet Potato Fries
I’ll be honest, when I came up with this recipe I didn’t expect it to be all that. I mean, aubergine instead of steak? Not quite the same, is it? But I’m really not kidding when I say this dish blew me away. The cheese sauce is rich, sticky and gooey (but very quick and basic to make) and the aubergine slices are loaded with mushroom, onion and peppers until the roll is fit to burst. Chuck some sweet potato fries on the side and you’ve got a veggie version of a true American classic.
I could eat these every single day; even thinking about them has me salivating! 🤤 Linda McCartney’s vegan sausages are my favourites to use for this one because they’re so tasty (the first time I ate them I genuinely couldn’t taste the difference!) but any’ll do. It’s messy, fun family food bursting with flavours of paprika, cumin, cinnamon, chilli and chock-full of veggies, beans and all kinds of goodness. Who says not eating meat means missing out?!
The ultimate cosy comfort food, pasta bakes are like hugs in an ovenproof dish. This one is oozing with layers of stringy, melty cheese and loaded with chunks of vegetables. Using seasonal veg is a brilliant way to create fresh, versatile vegetarian meals, and seeing what your local grocery store has to offer can be beneficial to your budget too. Ready meals might be two-minute microwave wonders (which we all need sometimes!) but if you’ve got the time, nothing compares to big bowl of homemade pasta straight from the oven. Mmm…
Red Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”
This recipe is one of my favourite foods to snuggle up with on a cold winter evening or a lazy Sunday afternoon, coupled with a few slices of garlic bread and followed up with a nice cup of tea. Lentils are a great, low-cost way to bulk up veggie meals and, along with tinned tomatoes, a couple of mushrooms, a handful of frozen sweetcorn and a stock cube, you can fix up a delicious, hearty pasta dish.
There was a time when I thought I could never live without my favourite dinner, chilli con carne. Turns out, I don’t have to! Substituting the meat with a heap of beans (as well as the usual ingredients like peppers and onions) tastes just as good and still creates that warm underbelly of gentle, pleasant spice with a robust, full-bodied meal. Also, beans are perfect when watching the pennies as they’re cheap, easily available and keep in the cupboard for ages.