Meat-Free Week passed a lot of people by without any acknowledgement of its existence. This makes me sad, but at the same time determined to be a voice for the cause.
I am a little late with this blog as this ‘event’ was the 23rd-29th March. I do apologise for this. Life has a way of rudely getting in the way sometimes! Not to mention a bank holiday weekend spent poorly on the sofa. A 4 day weekend you say? An extended weekend of nausea and headaches?… Yeh bring it on! I definitely know how to live the adventurous life.
I do hope this is a topic you will take interest in and continue to read to the end of the page. I will be including links, recipes and photos along the way so stay with me! I would also love to hear your opinion on the subject; please do send me a message.
I chose to take part in this event for many reasons. Firstly to prove to myself and to my partner that every meal doesn’t have to revolve around meat and food can be delicious without it. A lot of my meals are vegetarian already but convincing the boy was a tougher challenge! At the end of the week, he agreed that he didn’t miss meat in any of the meals I made. That is an amazing achievement all by itself!
Secondly, for health reasons and to cram my diet full of more fruit and veg, which I find hard sometimes because, I’m not a meat and veg kind of girl. I love experimenting and often overlook the plant based ingredients I should be including. This is slowly starting to change, but taking out meat altogether really helped me showcase the often disregarded veg on offer. At the end of the week, I felt great and my body could feel the benefits of the amazing nourishment I had given it. Since this week, if I am eating out, my eye automatically scans for the vegetarian options before any meat based. I did miss eating fish though!
And thirdly, because I am a strong believer in a sustainable lifestyle and I think more people should be aware of what they are eating, how often they are eating it, where it is coming from, and the health benefits/risks of their diet. The UKs meat consumption is double the world average. Cutting down on meat can benefit our health, the environment, and animal welfare.
I support this crucial campaign and hope that I can raise awareness to at least a couple of people reading my blog. It’s easier than you may think to make a difference to yourself and the world around you. I aim to have at least 2 meat free days a week. I’m not suggesting anybody should give up eating meat, I never will because I eat it as part of a healthy balanced diet. But I always make sure my meat is sustainable, fresh and the best quality I can afford.
EAT LESS, CARE MORE, FEEL GOOD.
If you would like to read more about this campaign and any of the issues, please visit https://uk.meatfreeweek.org/home
If you’ve stayed with me so far, you’re in for a treat!
I do have to admit now that I only lasted until Friday night because I forgot to let my sister-in-law know that I was doing the challenge, so we were greeted with a cottage pie upon arrival at her house. And I did have a fish finger sandwich on the Saturday for lunch, but this was completely justified because the only vegetarian option on the pub menu was goats cheese (I’d rather go hungry as it’s food of the devil!). And, one more… I ate half a sausage sandwich on the Sunday morning as we were still at the sister-in-laws. I felt guilty though so I gave the other half away!
Now that I’ve got the confessions out of the way… Let’s get on to the wonderful vegetarian adventure of food I did eat!
I won’t go into detail about all the meals I ate, but for breakfast all week I had variations of Weetabix with almond milk, honey and either sunflower seeds, strawberries, blueberries or cherries. This is my go-to breakfast during my working week. Fills me up all morning so I don’t get tempted to reach for those 11am office biscuits!
Lunch was a spicy couscous salad with beetroot, coriander and rice crackers. I haven’t photographed any of my lunches so if you like the sound of them, drop me a message and I’ll give you the recipe!
Now to the best part… Dinner! From the moment I get up, I am already planning what’s for dinner. In fact, it’s not often that anything other than putting food in my belly goes through my head. Yes, I’m the kind of person that plans my day around eating!
I am a halloumi addict so it seemed right to base my first meat free meal around this wonderful cheese. Grilled and placed on a bed of rocket and iceberg lettuce. Next comes the lightly toasted pine nuts, freshly popped pomegranate seeds, lemon marinated olives, crushed cheddar crisps as a crust and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Finally served with a slice of wholemeal bread. Absolute heaven. I made sure there was enough left over for lunch the next day.
Day 2 dinner was a beautiful smoked mushroom risotto on a bed of rocket and iceberg lettuce, drizzled with smoked truffle oil. It was so creamy and delicious. I challenge you not to go back for seconds!
I didn’t use a recipe for this, but I learnt to make risotto by following Martha Stewart’s fool proof dish! Once you know the basics, you can make all sorts of wonderful variations! I love to use pearl barley instead of risotto rice, for a nuttier, more nutritious meal.
Just as with the Halloumi salad, I made sure there was some risotto left over for lunch the next day. Gourmet meals at my desk whilst everybody else chews on a sandwich from the shop next door. Life is great! Ha.
My after dinner snack was a microwaved bag of lightly salted popcorn from the wonderful company Graze. They are always there in my hour of need!
Wednesday was the day I was most concerned about because I had arranged to meet a friend for dinner. From my experiences, vegetarian options when eating out are rubbish! If you don’t like goats cheese or mushrooms, you’re pretty much stuffed. As you have already gathered; I. Do. Not. Like. Goats Cheese *shudders* I do however love mushrooms, but the meals always use a mushroom as a meat substitute, which isn’t my idea of fun!
We went to the Old Hall in Sandbach, http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/oldhall/ and I was pleasantly surprised at their vegetarian options! There were still only 3 choices for main courses but at least they were offering something different. It had to be the tandoori halloumi salad for me though, as soon as I saw it; there was no other choice to be made.
It was full of watercress, salad leaves, coconut, lime, mint and fresh pineapple. I loved every mouthful and the only downside for me was the preference of liking my halloumi grilled and not raw.
I was naughty and had a Rhubarb and Blood Orange Pavolva. This looked like the best option for a low calorie dessert to take away the craving for something sweet. Meringue is always a great choice if you’re looking for that little something. It ended up being pure cream and sugary fruit, which tasted lovely but was perhaps a little to indulgent for me that evening!
Lunch Thursday was a jacket potato with cheese, beans and rocket lettuce. Can’t really go wrong with this staple!
My Veggie Lasagne definitely came out on top this week. The boy loved it and went back for more. That’s a result! Once again, I made the recipe up myself but I am more than happy to share it with you 🙂 Packed with butternut squash, mushrooms, sprinkle of cinnamon, mozzarella, carrots, ‘cheat cheese sauce’ and lots more! Really easy to make and it’s on the table in no time at all!
I can’t eat lasagne without some crunchy salad to go with it and a slice of naughty garlic bread!
I’ll let you in on a little secret… my cheese sauce is just semi-skimmed milk with a little grated cheese, wholegrain mustard and then thickened up with cornflour. You can’t tell the difference between this and it’s full-fat counterpart! You feel like you’re eating something truly indulgent but it’s not going to stick to those hips!
You’ve probably guessed the trend here… There was more than enough left over for a couple of lunches the next day. So we both had something delicious to heat up and tuck into.
And then this is where I failed… although I did have cheddar and broccoli soup which was delicious! I am planning on getting the recipe for this and making it over and over again! So once more, if you would like the recipe, please let me know. I sadly didn’t take a photo, so I can’t show you how wonderful it was!
Snack was cottage cheese and crackers.
Saturday was another halloumi day! I do like other cheeses! And there are other meals that I love too. It just so happened to be the only vegetarian choice on the comedy club menu. But it was a great combination of ingredients and flavours. Grilled halloumi, avocado, pomegranate, asparagus, mixed leaves, tomatoes and gherkins. You must try! I’ll be recreating this at home and will show you all the finished product. It was too dark for me to photograph the meal that evening! I followed it up by a naughty piece of chocolate cake. It was a birthday celebration after all… Would have been rude not to right?
I don’t normally eat out so much but this week happened to fall on our London trip! I will add some extra tried and tested recipes at the end of this blog for those of you looking to eat less meat J
Sunday dinner/lunch was a beautiful beetroot and sweet potato veggie burger with sweet potato fries. Usually, I would stay well away from the veggie burgers in restaurants and pubs because they tend to be deep fried and full of stodgy potato. On this occasion, I was starving after a long day spent walking, so I wanted something that would fill me up ready for the long journey back home from London. It was delicious. Baked and not greasy at all. There were so many flavours and the beetroot really came through. If you’re in Guildford, drop by the Britannia http://www.shepherdneame.co.uk/pubs/guildford/britannia#_=_ for some tasty pub grub.
After this week, I have a new found appreciation for vegetarians and vegans. Eating at home is amazing and there are so many choices. I cannot wait to try out some of the other recipes I discovered! But if you are out and about, the options are sparse or really boring. No I would not like a mushroom instead of the meat. I will just have a plate of vegetables then! And no, grating cheese on top of my vegetables does not count as a meal.
But if done correctly, some of the best food you will ever eat has no trace of meat. I’m not saying give it up. As I said before, I never will. But please consider your health, the health of the environment and animal welfare. Everybody can make a difference but just changing one little thing in their lives, or having one meat free day a week.
Love to you all! And if you’ve actually got this far, thank you for listening to my ramble!
I have a whole board dedicated to the wonderful fresh produce on offer to us. Go check it out J https://www.pinterest.com/lemonskitchen/meatless-wonders/
Some of the recipes I was going to make but never got round to doing so:
Red Lentils & Spinach in Masala Sauce
Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Kale, Almond, Pecan & Parmesan
Butternut Squash & Feta Falafel
Love and Lemons xxx