The World Cancer Research Fund says: “Eat mostly foods of plant origin, limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat”.
That means no sausages or bacon – ever! Viva!Health goes further and says eat no meat – ever! Meat offers no benefits and harms our health. With the meat-free market booming, it has never been easier to cut meat out of the diet.
Here are 10 easy ways to eliminate meat:
Substitute meat for meat-free alternatives
There are plenty of options to choose from: swap meaty bangers and burgers for the meat-free versions. Just look in the chilled food and freezer section. Use vegan mince in a shepherd’s pie and chilli, it soaks up the flavour and is healthier than the meat it replaces! Use mushrooms to add texture – they work really well!
Get your finger on the pulse
Experiment with peas, beans and lentils to make falafel, chick pea curry or lasagne. Pulses are a great source of protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates and are naturally low in fat. They can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Buy them dried in packets or tinned, they are cheaper than meat and can be stored in your kitchen cupboard. If you’re short of time, pre-cooked wholegrains are available in pouches.
Make vegetables the main event
Don’t hide the fact that there’s no meat on the table! Celebrate a healthy way of eating with a meat-free centrepiece. Try a cashew nut wellington, Moroccan vegetable tagine or a chestnut and mushroom casserole. Make your own or buy ready-made versions and dress them up with seasonal vegetables.
The wonders of grains
Wholegrains are a great source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Replacing one daily serving of red meat with a serving of wholegrains may reduce the risk of early death by 14 per cent. One serving can be a slice of wholemeal bread, half a cup of cooked brown rice, half a pitta bread, half a cup of wholemeal pasta or a small bowl of cereal. Experiment with bulgur – a chewy, hearty and versatile grain used in tasty Tabbouleh or quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) a wholegrain high in protein and iron.
Forget the iceberg lettuce! There’s nothing like a colourful salad bursting with flavour to make you feel good, inside and out! Mix quinoa with thin carrot slices, orange segments, pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios. Pearled spelt can be cooked the same way then combined with thinly sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, radishes, avocados and dill for a beautiful summer salad that is surprisingly filling. And don’t forget a tasty dressing or dip to bring out the flavours. Eat the rainbow!
Use interesting flavours
Food can be salty, sweet, sour or bitter but did you know there’s a fifth flavour called ‘umami’? Described as a moreish ‘yummy’ savoury taste, it may be why Marmite is our mate! You can add umami with soya sauce, miso, chipotle sauce, liquid smoke and toasted sesame oil. Try something new!
Get vegucated with tofu... the possibilities are endless
Tofu is a versatile meat-replacer and can be used in a Thai Green Curry, Risotto, Paella or on skewers on the BBQ. Marinate a tofu ‘steak’ in garlic, herbs and spices then bake it in the oven for 30 minutes or coat tofu strips in cornflour, fry then toss in BBQ sauce for sticky tofu ribs!
Cook your way around the world
Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian and Mexican food rely much less on meat than traditional British cooking. A curry can be made with baby aubergines and mock duck pancakes are delicious! Pad Thai noodles, Spanish paella, Italian risotto, spaghetti Bolognaise and Mexican chilli – be adventurous!
Cook for friends
Show your friends and family that vegan food can be tasty and versatile. It’s not as hard as you think! Viva!’s Vegan Recipe Club has hundreds of tried and tested recipes waiting to tempt you, go to: veganrecipeclub.org.uk
Cook green for the planet
Livestock farming produces more climate changing gases than the entire world’s transport put together. And it uses loads of precious fresh water. If you cut out meat you could save tonnes of CO2… what are you waiting for?
Looking for inspiration? Want to know what you can cook with chickpeas, cashew nuts or tofu? Look no further, The Vegan Recipe Club features hundreds of delicious vegan recipes. It also includes blogs from our cookery experts, health advice and a free newsletter and you can search by ingredient, food type, course or dish. Visit The Vegan Recipe Club.