June 20, 2016

Meat-Free Monday: a Meatless Meal Plan for Tomorrow. {Recipes}

vegetarian dishes

World Meat Free Day may have come and gone, but Meat Free Mondays has been an ongoing campaign since it was first launched in 2009 by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney.

The aim of Meat Free Mondays:

“To raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of eating meat, and to encourage people to help slow climate change, preserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one meat free day each week.”

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach—simply reducing our meat consumption on a collective scale can have a significant cumulative effect.

And deliberately choosing one meat-free day a week, whereby we need to be more conscious about what we eat all day long, can help us to open our minds about the general feasibility of reducing our meat consumption.

If we were to adopt a minimum of one meat free day a week, on an ongoing basis, we would be contributing to a multitude of benefits for all sentient beings:

Help save the planet. We tend to turn our attention to fossil fuel consumption when we think of halting or reducing climate change. However, livestock production is also a serious contributing factor that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. And if we’re going to make a meaningful impact on climate change, we need to put as much focus on the food we’re consuming as we do on our energy.

Help end world hunger. It can take up to 12 kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef. Vast amounts of the earth’s land and water resources are used to grow grains to feed livestock, which could be used to grow plant-based food for humans. This won’t happen until the demand for meat drops—and it is up to us to reduce that demand by voting with our wallets and our mouths.

Help animals. In order to keep up with the demand for meat, livestock production is a massive commercial exercise that means the vast majority of animals are farmed in overcrowded and cruel conditions.

Help ourselves. Reducing our meat consumption can help improve our health—and our finances. Studies are showing that reducing the amount of meat in our diets, and increasing plant-based protein, can lead to significant reduction in deaths due to cancer, stroke and heart disease. And plant-based proteins are also (usually) cheaper than meat. (Very cheap meat is usually highly processed and, eaten regularly, very likely to contribute to a general decline in our health.)

Of course, making dietary changes requires some planning and preparation in the early stages. So, to prepare for making tomorrow (or the day after) a meat free day, here is a suggested meal plan:

Breakfast: Granola

Maybe you already have granola in your cupboard. If not, it’s easy to make—simply preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius while lining a large baking tray with a combination of oats, nuts and seeds, according to your own preference/cupboard contents. You could also add some dessicated coconut or a teaspoon of cinnamon for added flavour.

Coat all ingredients in a high quality oil. If you’d like your granola sweet, then also add a tablespoon of maple syrup at this stage too. Toast in the oven, while keeping an eye on how it’s progressing. As the mixture begins to change color, stir the ingredients thoroughly and return them to the oven. You’re looking for an even golden color throughout. (This is the hardest part of this process—I often let it go too far and wind up with burnt granola that’s not even fit for the birds.)

Once ready, allow to cool in the tray before decanting into an airtight container, ready for breakfast in the morning. Serve with yoghurt or non-dairy milk and your choice of toppings, such as fresh fruit, fruit compote or simply honey.

Lunch: Egg and Avocado Sandwich.

I adore the combination of egg and avocado, and this works equally well with boiled, poached, scrambled or fried eggs. (Please only use genuine free-range eggs—at this time of year there is a plentiful supply at farmer’s markets.)

You could just slice the avocado or make up guacamole. I mash with some salt, pepper, a squeeze of lime juice and a finely sliced spring onion. It’s simple and quickly done while the bread is toasting. This is a delicious and filling lunch ready in less than ten minutes.

If you have them in the fridge, sweet pickled cucumbers make a delicious addition to this sandwich.

Dinner: Vegetarian Bolognese

This is a freezer-friendly recipe, so you could make extra and keep it for another meat-free day later in the month. And I prefer it to any meat-based bolognese sauce I ever tried before I turned vegetarian. The key ingredient is mushrooms, which actually provide a meaty flavor. By blending the ingredients just enough (but not too much), you’ll also get the typical bolognese texture. Follow this link for the full instructions.

For more information on the Meat Free Mondays campaign visit their website.


Author: Hilda Carroll

Image: Zeetz Jones at Flickr 

Editors: Caitlin Oriel; Sarah Kolkka

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