Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eat less meat and help save the planet!

Meat eaters in developed countries will have to eat a lot less meat, cutting consumption by 50%, to avoid the worst consequences of futureclimate change, new research warns.

In this second post during Sustainable September, I want to think about the practicalities of changing now by cutting our consumption of meat by 50%.

I have started doing this at our place -for budget reasons as well as health and environmental reasons. We are not vegetarians -have no plans at this stage to go down that path, although I respect those who do.  All I am doing is reducing portions of meat when we do eat meat, and trying to develop a habit of one meat meal on one day, followed by a non-meat meal on the next. I am in the habit of making a weekly or fortnightly meal plan, so this can be a deliberate choice. I find that if I am prepared, it is much easier to make this work. 

When you think about it, there are some great classic recipes which are already likely to be part of everyone's experience, which are vegetarian -though we would not often think of them as such:

1. Pumpkin soup -a classic favourite among me and my friends -often made more spicy these days with the addition of ginger and chilli, and flavoured with coconut milk. Yummy with a crusty loaf of bread or hot-out-of-the-oven scones.

2. French onion soup -if you have read Kerry Greenwood's "Corrina" books, you will know that there are often recipes added at the end. Kerry's recipe for French Onion soup -with or without the cognac- is  real winner! 

3. The great Aussie mum stand-by of  'zucchini slice" - an oven baked dish made with zucchini, eggs, flour and cheese. Great for adding to lunch boxes. 

4. Fried rice -a quick way of using up left-over rice, but good enough to make for its own right. I make a simple egg omelette, cut it up and add to rice which has got some nice sauted vegetables through. Add a splash of soy sauce and some nuts if you like them, and you're done. 

So it shouldn't be too hard to think of enough vegetarian meals to mix with meat meals.  I am gradually building up a repertoire of these to add variety and spice to our meals. 

 The other obvious way to cut meat consumption by half is to reduce our portion sizes. Have you ever been to an antique shop or found a wonderful old piece of dinner ware at an op shop, and been astounded at the small size of serving dishes, cups and bowls? In the olden days people ate smaller portion sizes whilst being more active. Is it any wonder we are all struggling with increasing weight?

Of course it requires some finesse on the part of the cook, to have the rest of the family cooperate with such a reduction in portion sizes without revolt. Any teenage boy will be only too aware that their usual dinner of two sausages and associated accompaniments, is now reduced to one!

One way to reduce the complaints is to simply cut the meat up into bite sized bits, add lots of vegetables and such and serve it as a casserole or stir fry- the amount of food on the plate may look the same, even if the meat ration is smaller.

You can also invest in smaller plates to achieve a similar result.

There are some great recipes from other cultures, where they have developed the fine art of using meat as a condiment to the meal, rather than the main part of it. Chinese meals are good examples-lots of rice, lots of vegetables, lots of tasty sauces, and small amounts of meat.

What is for dinner at your place? 


Linda Woodrow said...

I've been challenging myself all this year to post at least one fat, easy, vegetarian recipe made from scratch from really in-season ingredients each week. It's been surprisingly easy. I think we tend to fall back on meat thinking it's faster and easier but it's actually not hard at all to get a really healthy vegetarian meal on the table within half an hour, and a bit of a challenge stops it getting boring.

earthmotherwithin said...

That is so true Linda- vegetarian doesn't necessarily mean fancy ingredients or slow cooking.

Erin S. said...

Just found your blog through Stashbusters. I think this is a great idea. My husband and I have been trying to do at least one or two vegetarian days a week for a while, and we've been somewhat successful and try not to do too much angel hair and red sauce. One recipe I love is a Thai Peanut Noodle Recipe, which has a ton of veggies, doesn't need meat, and is pretty fast to cook up. If you like peanuts and noodles, let me know, and I can send you the recipe.

Erin near Chicago