Who needs meat anyway?

Filling, healthy and delicious food. Tarka dal and roasted cauliflower.

Filling, healthy and delicious food. Tarka dal and roasted cauliflower.

I am not a veggie but I might as well be. From my early days of cooking more than 10 years ago I have always been attracted to the ‘healthy’ meal choices. Chickpea curry and brown rice, sweet potato and butter bean stew, veggie chilli to name but a few. In part it was because I wanted to alter my diet and in part because I knew I needed more fibre.

Rustic spinach tart.

Rustic spinach tart.

Lately my husband and I have eaten less and less meat. We eat fish twice a week and then the remainder of the week I like to opt for pure veggie. For example last night we had a delicious veggie curry. Tarka dal, spinach tart, roasted cauliflower (which was mighty fine!!) and aubergine and cannellini bean curry served with home-made naan bread and rice. It was without a doubt delicious.  I even managed to fill my husband and there wasn’t a piece of meat in sight! I always find veggie meals satisfying to cook and satisfying to eat. When cooking a vegetable you don’t have to worry about poisoning anyone with undercooked chicken or over cooking the steak making it tough. Then of course there is the most obvious advantage, veggies are much, much cheaper!!!

We have all been conditioned to think that we need to eat meat. That meat is good for us and that we need it for the protein. I believed that until recently. I believed that the balance was good but the more I cook without it the more I believe meat is not a necessity. It is after all expensive and yet we treat it as though it was cheap.

The intensive farming of beef in our society today puts us as a human race in a very difficult position. What I mean is can we go on eating meat so intensely? Is beef really sustainable on our small and intensely farmed land? Who would want to eat meat that had been purposely raised to be killed and eaten, like they do in America.  Then there is the question of knowing where our food actually comes from? Why would we eat something that we had no idea where it had been raised? It really doesn’t make any sense and the less meat I eat the more I realise that we can all live without it. Let’s be honest if we had to raise a cow in our back garden, slaughter it, butcher it then eat it, would we really eat as much beef as we do by visiting out local butchers or supermarket? I think the answer would be no. We would then have to turn to our friends the vegetables.

A meal wouldn't be complete without home made naan bread.

A meal wouldn’t be complete without home made naan bread.

My motivation to eat lots of vegetables, pulses and beans is so I maintain a high level of fibre. With the inclusion of pulses and beans this high fibre diet allows me to eat slow releasing food and so I  stay fuller for longer. In the UK we are recommended to eat 18g of fibre a day. Eating soluble fibre keeps our stools soft, and in turn prevent constipation. Insoluble fibre just passes through the body without being broken down but it does help other food keep moving through the body. Obviously too much insoluble fibre can cause diarrhoea.

Versatile veg - butternut squash. Delicious roasted for soup.

Versatile veg – butternut squash. Delicious roasted for soup.

Soluble fibre = digested by the body and sources include –

fruit, oats, barley and rye, root vegetables, including carrots and potatoes and golden linseed.

Insoluble fibre = not digested by the body and sources include –

wholemeal bread, bran, cereals, most nuts and seeds, except golden linseed.

All these issues are very important to me. I like to keep slim, eat well but healthily and keep my bowel healthy too. I would like to write much more about this in the future. Bowel health is something that is a bit of a taboo in our society today. We are happy to talk about the food we eat but we don’t talk about if it is doing us any good. Veggies for me are well and truly here to stay. Later this week I will post some of my favourite veggie recipes. The question that remains is – will I become a fully fledged vegetarian?

Under- rated but delicious - curly kale - packed with the good stuff.

Under- rated but delicious – curly kale – packed with the good stuff.

 

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