I’m not going to enter a debate about whether or not a vegetarian diet is better for the environment, but needless to say it is National vegetarian week this week and it happens to be my Birthday today as well!
I’m a pretty tolerant gal when it comes to the way people choose to live their lives. In our household we have Mr Green who eats a lot of meat in the winter, but switches to a high raw diet in the summer. Little Miss Green eats a bit of meat,but prefers fish and vegetables, while I have been vegetarian for 20 years…
I have had conflict with myself about this very topic quite a few times in the past couple of years. Since becoming more aware of the landfill issue and the environment at large, I question whether a vegetarian diet really is better for the environment. The argument goes something along the lines of the amount of resources and land required to breed animals for food vs the fact that the same amount of land could feed 100 times the people if it were used to grow grains (or something like that).
What I notice is that I can buy locally reared, organic meat around here yet my lentils and rice come from the other side of the world. I can buy naked products from my butcher, by my rice and lentils come wrapped in plastic…
So it’s not as clear cut as we might like to think.
Anyway, back to vegetarian week. If you’ve been toying with the idea of reducing your meat intake then here is the perfect opportunity to try.
If you’re worried about lacking energy levels, pasty skin and little protein, then fear not. Mr green is living proof you don’t need lots of protein to feel great. On his high raw diet he hardly eats any protein at all and he has MORE energy than he does when he eats it.
You can get protein from nuts, beans, eggs, soya products, pulses and dairy. Iron comes from wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables, molasses, pulses such as lentils and kidney beans and some dried fruit.
To get a complete protein (ie all the amino acids, which you would normally get from eating meat), you need to combine legumes or dairy with grains, nuts or seeds.
This isn’t as complex as it sounds.
For example chick peas with rice is legumes and grains. Noodles with sesame seeds (think Asian cooking) combines legumes and seeds. Macaroni cheese combines grains with dairy and good old beans on toast is the simplest example of combining grains with legumes!
Other simple ideas are hummous on pita bread, split pea soup with whole grain bread, or dahl and rice.
To help reduce packaging waste, you can buy rice in cardboard boxes, lentils from bulk buy bins or in polythene, tins of ready prepared beans such as chick peas or baked beans, and make bread and soup at home. Vegetarian style sausages and burgers are often found in cardboard boxes in the freezers in shops and of course you can buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market or via a box delivery scheme.
Maybe you fancy trying just one vegetarian meal this week – let me know what you’re going to eat and whether or not it is easy to get zero waste options! If you’re stuck for inspiration, there is a recipes section on the National Vegetarian Week website and you can find out if any events are taking place local to you with their events finder.
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