I recently went on a holiday to Thailand (it was spectacular, thanks for asking) and one of the hotels we stayed in had this whole sustainable living vibe going on. It was called The Bangkok Treehouse and everything was made out of natural materials and the menu was completely sustainable and pescetarian. Even the movie selection was ‘green’ with environmentally themed films like Erin Brockovich and Wall E. We ended up watching a documentary called Food Inc that was about the fast food industry in the US.
It was preeeeetty gross. I’ll spare you the horrific details but lets just say that I was firmly reminded of why I stopped eating McDonald’s when I was an obnoxious first year university student. I’d just read Fast Food Nation and had a serious damn the man complex. Said complex never stretched far enough to force me into vegetarianism but ever since I over indulged in shock food industry literature in my early 20s, I’ve been what I refer to as A Conscious Meat Eater.
Personally, eating red meat every now and then makes me feel good, both mentally and physically. Eating meat is also delicious, so being a carnivore has layers of benefits for me. I get that some people don’t mesh that well with meat and that’s totally cool but let it be known that I’d never turn down a steak. I do believe that meat is a luxury item though and should be consumed thoughtfully. It’s not environmentally viable for every Australian adult to be eating steaks everyday because it’s impossible to ethically and sustainably produce that much beef cattle. I try to only buy organic and grass-fed meats, organic chicken, sustainable fish and I also have several meat free meals a week.
If you’re a seasoned meat eater and want to cut down on your consumption, it can be pretty daunting looking for meat replacements in meals. It’s important to replace the protein with another source of protein so you’re properly satiated. Here are the top 5 meat replacements that I regularly use. They’re simple to cook, very cost effective and will leave you just as full as a chicken stir fry or your regular Sunday night snags.
I use silken tofu to thicken soups and stews and firm tofu for stirfrys and salad. Try simply pan frying slices of firm tofu toss in sesame seeds and serving with steamed greens and peanut sauce. Throw together a simple Asian salad with crispy noodles, shallots, diced stir fried tofu, cherry tomatoes and soy sauce. Tofu is low in calories and high protein so it keeps you full in the same way that meat does. Macro has a fantastic range of soft to firm vegetarian beancurd and tofu in the chilled section of Woolies. There’s also a few long life brands of silken tofu in the Asian section of the supermarket in little cardboard boxes that are brilliant in soups.
Lentils are perfect for adding bulk to vegetable soups and stews or to sprinkle on salads. Perhaps try a pumpkin and lentil curry or a simple haloumi and lentil salad. Dahl is really easy to make and it’s a hearty and filling dinner on chilly evenings. Lentils are made of 30% protein so they’ll fill a steak craving tummy really well. I usually just grab a no frills bag of lentils in the soup section but sometimes if I’m feeling fancy I’ll buy them in little brown paper bags from the markets like Julia Childs.
These are perfect for quick dinners when you don’t have time to do anything fancy. Just pan fry and pop one on a crusty bread roll with fresh tomato and lettuce or serve one on the side of a healthy salad. You can buy frozen veggie burgers but I prefer the fresher ones in the chilled section of the supermarket and sometimes they have them in the deli too.
This one is a bit weird but just hear me out. It’s a protein based product that’s made to imitate meat. You can get it in mince, burgers, sausages and strips and it’s main ingredient is fungi. It’s like mushroom meat. The mince is delicious and works beautifully in bolognaise and lasagna. Quorn is actually a brand name so there’s only one variety – you can get it in the freezer section.
One of the best sources of protein and also one of the most simple foods to prepare. Stir fry some leftover vegetables in your fridge and whip up a healthy omelette with some shredded cheese. Have a fried egg on toast or simply hard boil an egg and have it has a little snack. Also make sure to buy only free range eggs. Happy chickens make happy eggs. On that note, a HUGE thumbs up to Woolworths who recently announced that they’re taking all cage eggs of their shelves. They’ve also committed to not using cage eggs in any of their Woolworths products. Bonza.