Carnivores, listen up! This week marks Meat Free Week in Australia, a national campaign to get you thinking about how much meat you eat, and the impact eating too much has on your health, the environment and our animals. It’s not just about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but poultry fish and seafood. Animal welfare, in particular those raised in factory farms remains a major concern in Australia as does the impact meat production has on our planet’s fragile resources.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love meat. I’m not going to deny that. Some of the best meals I have eaten have in fact featured some form of meat. Mmm, slow-cooked lamb shanks in Ireland spring to mind here. We also know eating red meat has a heap of well proven health benefits. However there’s no denying that in Australia we may well be eating too much of the iron-rich protein and could really benefit from reducing our consumption in creative ways that don’t break the bank.
So where am I getting with all this? Well I am not trying to make you stop eating meat and nor is this campaign. Far from it actually. While I think for one week this is a great initiative, I simply believe the underlying messages should be applied every week of the year. These being, knowing where your produce comes from and choosing sustainable options that can benefit not only your health, but the environment and welfare of animals. I also wholeheartedly believe we should buy free-range eggs, poultry, pork and other meats where we can. For minimal extra cost, it is a small price to pay knowing animals are well treated to lead happy, healthy lives. Visiting farmers markets and purchasing locally grown food is also extremely rewarding and you really can’t get any fresher than that.
I guess having a BFF (best foodie friend) that is vegetarian and a crazy- awesome mentor that is a die hard vegan makes me a teeny bit bias here. Over the past couple of years, I have gained a whole new appreciation and understanding of a plant based lifestyle from being around them and having tasted so many amazing dishes and recipes. Let me tell you vegan cupcakes are something else. You can’t turn into a vegetarian or vegan for that overnight but you can make more sustainable choices every day. Meat-free doesn’t have to be boring! There are so many delicious flavour combos out there and you really don’t miss meat (all that much!) once you see how easily a meal can be prepared without it.
So why not give it a go this week and set your own little challenge. See if you can create something amazing and let your greens be the star of the show!