Are You A Conscious Meat Eater? Try These 5 Meat Alternatives For Ethical Carnivores.

Are You A Conscious Meat Eater? Try These 5 Meat Alternatives For Ethical Carnivores.
Sponsored by Woolworths. 

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. 

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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.

Tofu

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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 

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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.

Veggie Burgers

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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.

Quorn 

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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. 

Eggs 

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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.

Are you  a conscious meat eater? Have you ever tried to cut back on your meat consumption?

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.

25 Comments

  1. Nessbow 10 months ago

    I do eat meat, but I try to confine my meat consumption to about three meals a week. I also try to vary the types of meat I eat (so I’ll alternate between beef, pork, chicken and fish). I love vegetarian cooking and I experiment with loads of meat-free meals. I used to live with a vegetarian housemate, who introduced me to a lot of meat substitutes which really opened my eyes to how awesome and delicious so many of them are.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      I always alternate the type of meat too. I’m a bit funny about chicken because sometimes it just doesn’t taste right to me.

  2. Mrs Woog 10 months ago

    I would eat less of it in a heart beat, but live with a Hungarian.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      Bugger! Do you ever do vegetarian dinners? My bestie is Bulgarian and she’s crazy into meat.

  3. Kitty 10 months ago

    I am pescetarian who hates labels and would rather be known as a fussy eater haha. I eat tofu and Quorn. Their nugget equivalents, ‘dippers’, are amazing. I love that they’re made of mushroom-like stuff, because mushrooms are fucking awesome. I do wish that they didn’t use vegetable oil but you can’t have everything, right?
    I live with a meat-eater but he’s reduced the amount of meat he eats because of me (the smell makes me feel nauseated). We buy non-caged eggs and he avoids lamb because it’s a baby animal.
    We need to expand our repertoire. I’m going to try cooking with eggs more. :)

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      I saw roast piglet on a menu the other day and nearly cried! I know that a lot of pork is piglet but just the word makes me uncomfortable. Strangely I do eat lamb though…

  4. Jess 10 months ago

    I’m a vegetarian/borderline vegan but also hate the labels – basically I just don’t like meat or milk! I eat a veg rich diet, but rock tofu, Quorn and other faux meat products and veggie burgers on a very regular basis. Falafels are also a great alternative to meat in wraps, burgers and salads. The Linda McCartney range of pies and sausage rolls are also awesome.

    I have a six year old so sometimes use the Quorn mince to make sausage rolls or lasagne that we can enjoy together. And she really doesn’t know the difference!

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      Oh! Quorn sausage rolls! Great suggestion! Mr Smaggle loves tofu so thankfully we have that a few times a week.

  5. Harlow 10 months ago

    I LOVE quorn – when I have it in lasagna or spaghetti bolognaise – I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BEEF.Lentils are delicious, I make veggie burgers from them and they are fab. Tofu however….I can’t do tofu. The texture and chewiness is horrific, I’m terrified of it. The sneaky Thai place down the road put it in my Pad Thai recently – not cool, not cool at all.

    We also buy our meat organic and grass fed at my house (and I feel like a wanker for saying it out in the open…) and because it’s more expensive than the regular stuff we only really eat meat 3 times a week now. I could never do the vegetarian thing (because sushi…) but I feel much better physically with less meat in my diet.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      I love the fact that tofu just soaks up any flavour that it’s next to. I couldn’t go full vegetarian because meat is delicious!

  6. cilosophy.blogspot.com 10 months ago

    I eat far too much red meat…have it most days

    I have been trying to change to more chicken. I am not a great fan of fish. Tuna is fine on sandwiches

    Eggs are good.
    Lentils and chickpeas are good but don’t like me.

    The way things are going diet recommendation wise is to consume more protein compared with carbohydrates – 2:1 carbs:protein rather than 3:1 (this from a visiting professor of nutrition at a conference on obesity).

    There is also a thing called an “eco-Atkins” diet. Doesn’t sound particularly appetising. There is a bit of research from the Swedes on Paleo diets, compared with the “Mediterranean” diet. Watch this space.

    It will mean that we will need to find more sustainable sources of protein…one such source posited has been insects. Ewwwwww….. :D

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      When I was Thailand they sold bugs as snacks in the street. Like clear bags of fried cockroaches. I was so tempted to try them but always chickened out.

  7. I’ve been vegetarian for about 5 years now for both ethical and environmental reasons. I ate a lotttt of tofu/Quorn etc when I first went veg, but don’t seem to eat as much anymore – although the veggie burgers are excellent for taking to BBQs at other people’s houses!

    I did a How-To post awhile back on introducing Meatfree Monday’s to meat-lovers, it’s here if anyone is interested: http://www.ispyplumpie.com/meat-free-mondays-a-how-to-guide/

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      Great post love, thanks for sharing! I have a veggie friend who brings burgers to BQQs too and I always want to steal them!

  8. Nicole 10 months ago

    I want to love tofu, but the reported health concerns tied to it keep me hesitant.
    I’m not a very big red meat eater – very rarely, my anemia will get bad and I’ll have a strong craving for it – but for the most part, if I’m eating meat it’s farm raised, cage free, organic chicken or turkey.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      Oh what are the health concerns? I’ve read some stuff about soy products not being able to be digested properly by people born outside of Asia. Is that what you’re talking about?

  9. Natalie Mulford 10 months ago

    I like to think i’m a conscious meat eater, I honestly don’t eat a lot of red meat, and find myself heading down the vegetarian road more and more. I’d never be able to be one though, because when I go out to dinner, I do quite enjoy a steak & I don’t think i’d ever be able to give up salmon, or oysters. I have a packet of those vege burgers, but I’ve yet to try them & quorn is a new love of mine, the ‘chicken’ breast strip ones are rather yummy!

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      I would never give up seafood. I could ALMOST give up red meat and chicken but SALMON??? FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!!!!!

  10. Erika 10 months ago

    It is hard as Best Beloved is a confirmed carnivore. But all the meat we have is organic, and the eggs come from our own happy girls in Chook Mahal. I do manage to sneak the odd vegetarian meal in on him, but I’m more likely to have vego when he’s not here.

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      I’d love to have the room to have my own chooks! Jealous.

  11. 26 Years & Counting 10 months ago

    I’m not vegetarian or vegan but do enjoy both types of meals, as well as meat. I’ve tried the vegetarian alternatives from supermarkets but I just don’t like prepackaged food – I’d rather fresh chop a ton of veggies and stir fry them with themselves! I have been meaning to try lentils though :)

    • Author
      Smaggle 10 months ago

      Good call! I can’t do prepackaged too often and I love all the stuff I mentioned above but I draw the line at fake meat like fake bacon and fake sausages. I can handle quorn because it’s basically mushrooms but fakon? Yukc.

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