Quorn and two veg
As the long winter nights draw in, there’s nothing better than cooking up a big pot of something warm and meaty. Stews, sausage and mash, chilli con carne… and of course a traditional roast beef with all the trimmings always tastes better when it’s freezing cold and raining outside.
Now we're sorry to spoil your appetite, but unfortunately, our carnivorous ways are costing the planet. A meat-filled diet uses up three times as many resources as a vegetarian one, according to a study quoted on the Vegetarian Society website (http://www.vegsoc.org). And here’s a chewy fact which will make that roast beef a tiny bit harder to swallow: cattle cause the most environmental damage of any non-human special because of over-grazing, soil erosion, manure-production and, ahem, gaseous emissions. Because of the methane in animal gas, their stinky farts and horrendous burps are the second most major cause of global warming. Find out more at The Vegetarians International Voice For Animals (http://www.viva.org.uk) and the resource site http://www.goveg.com.
A shocking United Nations report speculates that, if diets don’t change, demand for animal flesh will double by 2050, causing farmers to turn to mass production farming methods. This will place the earth’s already strained resources under massive amounts of pressure: more than 70% of agricultural land in the UK is given over to feeding animals; it really can’t take much more.
No one likes tub-thumping vegetarians who continue to quote Meat is Murder two decades after The Smiths released it. But at the same time, if we don’t scrutinize our own diets and change not only our eating habits but also our shopping habits too (buying locally sourced food that has travelled fewer miles, for instance) then we are condoning the cheapening of the food industry which is a contributor to climate change. It’s a thorny one, but there are few things for us to consider:-
About five per cent of the UK population – or three million people – are currently vegetarian. If you want to increase that number – or even just replace a few meaty meals with veggie ones - think about the following:-
1. You don’t need meat to eat well. Honest. There are millions of vegetarian cook-books and recipe websites that can inspire you. Check out http://www.vegcooking.com, or http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/vegetarian_and_vegan/
2. Ensure you’re getting enough iron and protein in your diet by eating lots of nuts, pulses and leafy green vegetables like spinach. If you want to make extra sure you’re getting lots of iron, make sure you choke down some dark chocolate and red wine too. Doctor’s orders.
3. Warm and comforting doesn’t always mean meat. Lentils, pulses, and seasonal vegetables combine to make a wealth of delicious soups and stews that would convert the most dedicated carnivore. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/cheap-easy-vegetarian-meals-reci...
4. Meat is expensive, and in these crunchy times you can save a fortune by switching just a few weekly meals for veggie ones. Think about this - A kilo of the cheapest cut of beef costs about £4.50 and contains about 166 grammes of protein. A kilo of kidney beans costs about £3.00 and contains about 240 grammes of protein
If you want to take it one step further and go vegan, then according to Cornell University, you’ll be responsible for saving one whole acre of forest every year. Many athletes, including Carl Lewis and Martina Navratilova have opted for vegan diets and are evangelists about the health benefits.
The Vegan Society website (http://www.vegansociety.com) is an excellent resource which offers advice and recipes. And far from the self-flagellating denial which some people think of when they think of veganism, rest assured, there’s a stack of recipes for yummy stuff. Planet-friendly cakes or muffins, anyone?