For the last couple of months I have consciously been trying to cut down on my meat-eating. It’s not that I think everyone in the meat industry is evil or cruel but I do think we consume way too much of it. I would prefer to eat quality, sustainably sourced meat when I do go for that option, and otherwise steer clear.
It’s been an interesting journey, especially since I’ve recently moved to Stellenbosch where people very much still love their tjops and wors (a braai just isn’t a braai with soy patties). Capetonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to vegetarian options – even the grocery stores are stocked differently. The trick is not just finding meat-free dishes but ones that are healthy too – not just loads of carbs thrown together.
It’s much easier when I cook at home. In fact, I have been having loads of fun coming up with creative ways to cut out meat, opting for beautiful, healthy, flavourful combinations of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables and dairy (yes, I’m still doing cheese, please). Veggies are incredibly versatile and can offer multitudes of flavours and textures depending on whether you roast, boil, fry, pickle or eat them raw.
Since making this shift, I’ve become aware of the impact meat has on my body. It is a heavy, complex source of protein and I often feel my body working harder trying to process it. If I eat meat for dinner I also don’t sleep as well as when I go without.
The other major influence behind my decision is the environmental impact of meat farming. According to meatlessmay.me, if one person cuts out all meat for one month, they help to save 14 915 litres of water! So every bit really helps.
For the month of May I committed to being a Positive Pioneer, which means I will try my best not to eat meat from Monday to Thursday, which means no red meat, poultry, pork or fish.
So what do I eat instead of meat?
- Legumes. Chickpeas are fantastic, used in stews and curry, or to make hummus. I also stock up on a variety of canned beans and lentils.
- Cheese like feta and halloumi to add a salty flavour and substance to dishes
- Complex carbs like wholewheat bread, brown and wild rice and quinoa. There are some really cool grain options on the shelves so stock up.
- Mushrooms have a similar texture to meat. Opt for brown, portobella or oyster mushrooms for maximum flavour.
- Avocados, obviously.
- Plenty of herbs and spices to amp up any dish.
I’ll be posting my #MeatLessMay ideas throughout the month so keep an eye on my social media feeds. You can also check out GreenMonday for really cool recipes.
Will you be joining me? Head over to MeatLessMay.me to sign up or simply follow the hashtag on social. I’d love to hear your stories.