Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my diet – specifically in terms of ethics and how our food consumption can impact on the environment. I don’t really eat red meat or pork unless it’s cooked for me by friends or family, or on the rare occasion that I’m really craving it, but I do eat chicken and fish quite regularly. I like including these in my diet and they have many health benefits, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the impact that the consumption of animal protein has on the environment. Problems such as overfishing and global warming are becoming increasingly severe, and I want to play my part, to help conserve our planet and its life.
I won’t be cutting anything out of my diet, but I will be reducing my consumption of animal protein. I have a lot of respect for vegetarians and vegans but have decided that this approach won’t work for me – for my body, my mindset, my enjoyment of eating this way, of trying new foods and recipes. I like to include a bit of everything in my diet, and this approach is what works for me; it supports my body, I don’t feel restricted and I enjoy it. Therefore, I’m simply going to be creating and consuming more vegan/vegetarian meals more often in order to learn to become less reliant on fish and chicken. I’m going to be experimenting with bean burgers, falafels, and many interesting ways of serving soy products such as tempeh and tofu, as well as dressing up pulses such as chickpeas and beans.
I’m greatly aware that it’s not just meat consumption that is damaging our environment, but also driving, flying, the export of many popular foods (even the avocado) to name a few, but I want to make a real effort and I’m starting by addressing my intake of animal consumption – mostly fish. I know I may be criticised by some for not going cold turkey (poor pun, I do apologise) by giving up animal protein completely, and for not planning to ever, but I’ve already mentioned how I feel about the topic, and I do believe that any change for the better, however small, is better than none, and should be encouraged rather than sneered at.
A few years ago, at the first Fare Healthy event, I had the pleasure of meeting David Frenkiel, co-author of the Green Kitchen cookbooks. I simply cannot express how in awe I am of David and his wife Luise. Not only is the photography in their books and on their Instagram incredibly stunning, but each recipe opens with a little anecdote and this, combined with their inclusion of their children both in the cooking process and in their photos, gives their cookbooks such a lovely personal feel. The books are made up of vegetarian recipes, including vegan ones, with a focus on delicious, nutritious food, and there is such skill and care noticeable in each beautiful recipe and photo.
However, despite loving these recipe books, I am guilty of doing with them exactly what I’ve done with all my other many cookbooks. I have spent time going through the recipes, marking those which really stand out for me, only to pop the book back on my shelf and forget all about it. I have never been someone to follow a recipe, at least not word-for-word. I’m a chuck-it-all-in-a-pan-and-hope-it-works kind of girl. I like to experiment with ideas, using recipes for inspiration; a loose frame for my own creation. Sometimes the result is better than I could have expected, sometimes it’s a disaster. I go for simplistic, quick meals – avocado and eggs on toast, tuna salad, baked spicy chicken with greens and sweet potato. I want to learn to cook other things and discover more exciting, adventurous recipes to become my new favourites. So, I’m going to start to follow recipes. Word for word, gram for gram. I’m going to start with my Green Kitchen Travels cookbook and work my way through some vegetarian dishes. I started by making the Vegan Moussaka on page 169 for my family dinner this evening, and it was well worth the washing up! It’s definitely something I’ll be making it again.
If any of you have any vegetarian/vegan recipe suggestions or authors that you love and recommend, please do comment below!
Thanks for reading!