Meat Free Mondays
While veganism is no new phenomenon, there has certainly been an upward trend in the interest that the world’s population has had in turning away from eating animal products. The widely felt sentiment of the global climate crisis, ethical issues with the meat industry as well as persons of influence selling the meatless lifestyle, have all influenced how we consume meat and dairy in 2021.
For someone who has grown up in a traditional western household of eating meat, fish and dairy every day, it can become quite a shock to eliminate these proteins from the diet.
For those interested in exploring the body, mind and environmental benefits associated with eating plant-based but are unsure of where to begin, our recommendation is to start small.
The concept of kicking off one day a week without meat is the perfect foundation. The meat-free Monday trend is something that most of you will be familiar and something that you will be able to manage.
When it comes to catering your meals on meatless Monday, planning is key. The below cookbooks and guides are a brilliant place for a plant-based novice to start.
International Cuisines Embracing Plant-Based
When exploring recipes that are packed full of flavour and void of meat, there are certainly some nations that offer more vegetarian and vegan options than others.
Mediterranean, Asian and Southeast Asian countries are renowned for vegetarian and plant-based diets that don’t skimp on flavour.
Dishes such as curries and stews born out of India, Thailand and Vietnam stand as the perfect vehicle for flavour as well as a nutritionally balanced meal.
Full of iron-rich green vegetables, herbs and spices aiding in many different aspects as well as grains and legumes as a rich source of protein, these delicious and easy to prepare meals are a great meat-free alternative to slow cooked ragus and stews.
In Stefania Evangelisti’s cookbook ‘Purezza Vegan Pizza’ she proves that everyone’s favourite indulgence, Pizza, can be created in a way that doesn’t rely on animal products. While not necessarily authentically Italian, this book of recipes was based on the menu of her highly popular British pizzeria that uses dairy free cheese alternatives and harnesses the flavour of vegetables. Adored by meat-eaters and vegans alike, this book is the perfect place to change even the hardest critic’s opinions on what plant-based food should taste like.
Legumes & Beans
One of the main understandable hesitations when it comes to switching up a protein and iron heavy omnivorous diet is whether plants can supplement the nutrients that meats offer. The simple answer is, yes!
While the nutritional value of vegetables and fruits can vary greatly from one to another (some are higher in fructose, and some are higher in fibre) we can always rely on beans and legumes to support a balance of protein and iron.
Ingredients like chickpeas, lentils and beans offer a complex system of nutritional support for our bodies and mind that can often do more sustainable good than a piece of meat ever will.
Legumes and beans are rich in fiber, B-vitamins, iron, folate, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. All these necessary dietary elements work to sustain our bodies, help our metabolism and keep us fuller for longer.
Supplementing animal products for legumes and beans can be super easy, as long as you have the right idea when it comes to cooking them properly. The below cohort of cookbooks seek to hero beans and legumes, as well as show how diverse and versatile they are.
In Katherine Green’s ode to the humble bean, ‘Plant-Based Bean Cookbook’, she explains that these adaptable and inexpensive proteins can be integrated into any meal, whether you’re eating completely plant based or still some meat here and there.
For those who love the taste and texture of meat but are trying to move away from eating sentient beings, you’ll be pleased to hear that meat substitutes have come a long way within the last decade.
Products like Beyond Burgers, fakeon (fake bacon) and plant-based meat imitation foods are highly sophisticated versions that scratch the meat itch without relying on any animal by products. You can actually buy steaks that are 3d printed using a soy base, brilliant!
If you’re not convinced by mimicked meat, then relying instead on vegetables that have a similar meat texture is the way to go. Plants including fungi, eggplant, and even watermelon have all been cleverly integrated into recipes to mimic the taste and texture of meat.
Just look at the below cookbook by Zacchary Bird as an example! ‘The Vegan Butcher’ is filled with recipes and ideas on how to turn plant-based goodies into some delicious meat substitutes.
For self-confessed diary queens trying to lay low on lactose there are some brilliant resources out there teaching you how to produce milk, cheese and yogurt alternatives without any dairy necessary. We’ve found the below bible by Yvonne Holzl-Singh to be an absolute game-changer.
For the Little Ones
Just like earmarking every Monday to be the start of a journey to plant-based, it’s important to get the whole family on board with your new lifestyle.
Habits create change and for a habit to be successful, we need a team behind us not only supporting our new habit but encouraging us by participating too.
One of the hardest food critics known to man are kids, and lucky for us they’re live in guests who we must cater for multiple times a day! Getting children to eat their veggies can be a tough task, and so it’s important to introduce a healthy, nutritious and flavourful vegetable and fruit heavy diet from a young age.
While the task of introducing a plant-based or flexitarian diet to our children may be a tough feat, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to books that help inspire fun and flavourful kid-friendly meals.
Titles such as some below help both parent and child understand the importance of a colourful and vibrant diet full of veggies, fruit, legumes and beans. It’s also important to give our younger generations much credit when it comes to grasping the concept of climate change and the impact that livestock has on our environment. These future leaders are now brought up in a world of understanding consumption and impact, and should get excited at creating change, even if it’s from their dinner plate.