Sustainable eating

Sustainable eating

When talking about sustainability and saving the planet *insert superwoman picture here* – we cannot forget about sustainable eating. Below I will share a few tips how you can re-vamp some good old staple recipes with plant based products. Also to take the art of calorie counting to the next level – let’s count some carbon.

Impact of animal agriculture on climate change

First, let’s have a look at some research on the impact of animal agriculture on climate change.

Big side note before you stop reading after seeing the below headline: I know people feel passionately about tofu, either positively or negatively, I myself have not mastered tofu yet and cannot say that I am big fan but the good news is, tofu isn’t the only plant based protein source.

Side note number two, if you have mastered tofu, give me your recipe!

Beef results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of protein, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

Check out the article above for the stat and further infos on the impact of animal agriculture on our planet.

For anyone who prefers their scientific facts presented in movie format, I can highly recommend the documentary “Cowspiracy” that is streamed on Netflix or you can have a look at their website which is packed with facts on the impact of animal agriculture on the climate and environment:

https://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

Recipes

Now let’s switch those taste buds on! I’ve selected a few classics that are thought to only work with meat and butter but alas there shall be another way!

Just a quick note beforehand, all supermarket chains by now have introduced extensive veggie ranges and the stuff keeps getting better. If you have tried meat substitutes in the past and weren’t convinced then give it another go.

Bangers and mash

Sub the sRichmond Meat Free SausagesNaturli Vegan Blockausages with the Richmond Meat Free Sausages. I cannot tell the difference from a meat sausage and they are about the same price as the meat ones, so win win! For the mash I use some Flora Buttery but if that is not for you why not try the Naturli Vegan Block or Spreadable, this one tastes legit like butter. If you normally use some milk in your mash, any plant milk should do the job. My experience is that plant milks are heavily dependent on preference. My favourites are Oatly and Alpro Soy.Plant Chef Cumberland-Style Bangers

If you fancy some further sausage testing, I can also recommend the new Tesco Plant Chef Cumberland-Style Bangers made out of roasted mushroom and pea protein. Sounds strange but don’t knock it until you try it.

Carbonara

You are surely thinking, Carbonara is one of those dishes that can never be made only with plants. Well I am here to show you otherwise. I found this great recipe in Lucy Watson’s “Feed me Vegan” cook book.

Linguine Carbonara by Lucy Watson

A crucial ingredient in Carbonara is bacon and Vivera’s got you covered. This is another great veggie brand with a wide range of meat replacement products that can be found in Tesco and Sainsbury’s to my knowledge – my favourite is their Veggie Shawarma Kebab. It has recently launched some Veggie Bacon Pieces and the best thing about them, they are fat free!

Carbonara by Lucy Watson

Vivera Veggie Bacon Pieces

For this recipe you will also need some smoked tofu which I have found in the bigger branches of Sainsbury’s and Tesco but might also be available elsewhere.

Both products can be found in the fridge sections. I think I didn’t add the vegan Parmesan when I cooked this recipe and it was still deliciously indulgent. But if you want to add it there is some vegan Parmesan at Tesco, possibly elsewhere too. This would usually sit with the Free From yoghurt and milk products in the fridge section.

The best thing about this recipe is that you still get the very rich taste of cream, bacon, etc. but for a lot less fat, calories and carbon. Happy waste line – happy planet.

Spaghetti Bolognese

The Meatless Farm Co Meat Free Mince

This is another one that heavily depends on preference, I would say if you already got a recipe you like simply sub the meat with a plant based ingredient. I personally like any type of lentils as a sub for the mince; it is a much lighter version of the dish. However, some other subs for the mince can be chopped up mushrooms or a mix of finely chopped cauliflower and walnuts (surprisingly good and you can’t get much healthier than this combo). Then there’s some actual replacement products such as soy mince, I hear the Tesco own one is good but cannot vouch for that. Another fairly new product is mince made by The Meatless Farm – looks and tastes like mince in my opinion. I think there are few others like this on the market as well by now.

Shepherd’s Pie

Another old classic and really the same applies as already mentioned above for the butter, milk and mince replacement. Again I personally prefer some green lentils as a sub – can you tell that I am a fan of lentils? My meat eating self from only two years ago would have never thought that I’d say that one day!

Here’s a recipe by Jamie Oliver – even he has jumped on that bandwagon!

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/vegan-shepherd-s-pie/

Carbon analysis

The meat free sausages, veggie bacon and mince subs are the carbon winner over traditional meat products. Any plants – soy, peas, Quorn, wheat – used for this were fed directly into the sausages, bacon and mince. This stands in contrast to first feeding tons and tons of plants into a cow or pig plus all the water that is needed to grow livestock. Also, if you are opposed to soy products be aware that the soy that is responsible for example the Amazon forest being chopped down and being on fire is mostly grown for livestock. So by eating a burger you ultimately eat the soy that cow has eaten and you directly contribute to deforestation. If you have health concerns about soy, give me a shout.

As for the butter, “[…] researchers found that butter has more than double the environmental impact of margarine when it comes to climate change; it also caused more water and air pollution problems. If we’re looking just at the carbon footprint, butter is four times worse.”

Source: https://grist.org/living/the-bitter-truth-about-butters-environmental-impacts/

And lastly, the same really goes for milk, rather than feeding a cow to give you her milk, you can take the “milk” directly from the plants that the cow would eat. And that won’t just make a positive impact on the environment, it would also allow baby calves to stay with their mothers and drink the milk that was intended for them.

To back this up, Oatly – yes I am a bit biased – have started adding their climate footprint onto their packaging. See a statement about this below:

https://www.oatly.com/uk/climate-footprint

So there you go, if you try any of the products, swaps or recipes I mentioned I would love to hear what you think. Until then, happy sustainable eating!

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3 Comments

  1. mleslie2

    Thanks Miriam. I actually use a lot of Quorn mince for Spaghetti Bolognese, Chilli etc. Makes a much lighter and healthier version. I haven’t tried vegan Parmesan, but Tesco’s vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese (can’t call it Parmesan due to DCO protection) is great. Not so keen on the Quorn chicken pieces though.

    I think it’s great for people to just start with a day or so meat-free, and feel the benefits. No need to be put off by thinking of it as ‘going veggie/vegan’ 100% straight away. Even a day a week initially helps both your health and the environment. If everyone had just one or two meat-free days a week, it would make a huge difference!

  2. Tammy

    Great Blog Miriam. Unfortunately I haven’t mastered tofu yet either, despite MANY attempts – and I love it when I have it at Thai restaurants. I can also recommend Linda M’s vegan ‘pulled pork’ burgers -yum. I have started doing Vegan Mondays as i’m not ready to give up cheese completely yet, but it feels good to make an extra effort and i’m enjoying trying my hand at vegan baking. I am also an expert in making meals with ‘hidden’ veg for the kids so i’ll try and put a blog together with some of my staples!

    1. Miriam

      I haven’t tried the Linda ‘pulled pork’ burgers yet, will need to give them a go! I do like the Linda Mccartneys Vegetarian Lincolnshire Sausages though. But there are so many products on the market now, it’s hard to try them all!
      I thought I would miss cheese as well but I don’t. I actually had a cheese pizza about four months after I had first given it up and it was very underwhelming. And it turns out, cheese is actually addictive:

      “It turns out there’s a reason behind our cravings. Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a casein-derived morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiate molecules built in. When consumed, these fragments attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and other narcotics attach to.”

      Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpellmanrowland/2017/06/26/cheese-addiction/#363f35563583

      No wonder people find it hard to give it up, aye?
      And then there is obviously the problem that fake cheese in the UK is not that great. Don’t understand that, I had some awesom vegan cheese alternatives in Germany, one was based on almonds and it was lovely. It’s a major brand over in Germany called Simply V. It’s about time the UK caught up with the vegan cheese market. 🙂

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