Veganuary is officially over for 2021 – and congratulations to everyone who gave it a go! For many people, the choice to try a plant-based diet is based on long-term goals and long-held principles. Health, morals and activism are all great motivators but, even so, some of us find following a vegan lifestyle harder than others. Yes, by some of us, I mean me. I want to eat more sustainably for the good of the planet and future generations, I don’t want to be culpable in the suffering of animals, and I am keen to optimise my physical health. But the truth is, I don’t find it easy or practical to cut out meat entirely – and, honestly, I’m not sure I want to. I really, really like cheese, for one thing!
Part of my Sunday evening is set aside for planning my next week’s meals. This way, I can plan to use leftovers and don’t end up wasting food. It also means I can consciously think about how to ensure I get two or three meat-free days – and sometimes a wholly plant-based one – each weel.
One way to reduce both your meat intake and your impact on the environment is to think carefully about where you’re buying from. Farm shops often stock organic meat sourced from local farms with verifiable welfare standards, and there will be fewer associated transport emissions and the like. For these reasons, the meat is dearer, which means you’re more likely to save it for special meals.
Even if you don’t have the energy to keep trying new recipes, there are plenty of ways to remove meat from existing favourites. Take the chicken or bacon out of your pasta dish, and replace it with more veggies, a meat alternative or halloumi. Italian and Asian cuisines, in particular, have hundreds of fabulous – and simple – veggie sauces to try. Veggie pizzas can be just as delicious as their meaty cousins – my favourite is goat’s cheese and caramelised onion chutney.
In our earlier Veganuary post we shared just a few popular plant-based bloggers – and they’re the tip of the iceberg. Whether you prefer Insta, YouTube videos or a recipe book, there is a plethora of inspiration out there. Our sister company, EAT.PLNT, publishes regular interviews detailing how different individuals have made the transition to plant-based eating, and they almost always have great recommendations.
One thing that has really helped me, as a single working mother, is using a recipe box service. There are lots of these available – some specifically vegan or vegetarian, some not. But the ingredients arrive prepped in the correct amounts, removing wastage and faff time in the kitchen. Not only that, but you get to try things you wouldn’t perhaps think of otherwise. Because I’m trying to cut down on my meat consumption, I always try to include at least one veggie or plant-based meal.
Of course, even with all the batch cooking and one-pot recipes in the world, sometimes there’s just not the time, energy or will to cook. That’s where Gourmade – and our sister company, EAT.PLNT – come into their own. Having a few delicious meals ready in the freezer for an lazy evening in can keep you on track even when life throws one more curveball than you can cope with. Stock up on some of Gourmade’s fantastic veggie meals (I recommend the Butternut Squash Lasagne) or one of our vegan range EAT.PLNT – I love the Thai Green Vegetable Curry. You could even have veggie sausages or burgers with an indulgent side or two – Potato Dauphinoise has to be the top choice here.