This week is Meat Free Week. An initiative created by Lainie Bracher and Melissa Dixon, it was started to raise awareness about meat consumption and production. The movement urges people to omit meat from their diets for one week each March. Meat Free Week is gaining traction since it’s inception in 2013 – it has provoked discussion in Australian parliament and has initiated conversation across a variety of media channels. You can find out more about it here.
I have been vegetarian for four years this May. Never being a big fan of meat I found that I wasn’t eating it much, and enjoying it a lot less. I did some research, and with animal rights and sustainability factors taken into account, I decided to take the plunge into vegetarianism. It did take some adjustment, for myself and my family. I fielded quite a few ‘But what will you eat?’ questions, but on the whole, everyone has been very flexible. Offering to bring something for myself always helps! Being vegetarian does not mean that you are stuck eating lettuce leaves and broccoli. I do still eat some ‘faux’ meat (soy based protein, mostly) to bump up my protein levels which I struggle with on occasion. While I still ate seafood for a couple of years, I now omit all meat from my diet. Since becoming vegetarian I do feel healthier – I used to suffer from stomach issues which are now thankfully few and far between. Our household has many dairy free items due to an allergy, however I still eat some animal derived products. I do buy free range eggs and responsibly farmed meat when I purchase it for other family members.
To promote Meat Free Week, I wanted to share 5 vegetarian recipes that have become my favourites. Some contain faux meat, which may not be for you, but there are always alternatives that you can try instead. Consider trying even just one vegetarian meal per week if you’re not sure about stepping outside your comfort zone. You may be in for a delicious surprise!
This is one of my favourite meals, as there are a variety of options. You can use something like a Sanitarium Not-Burger, or Fry’s schnitzel, a store bought lentil patty, or home made patty made from a variety of legumes or beans. I top the burger with my favourite fillings like pineapple, beetroot and salad. Serve with home cut sweet potato fries, and you’ve got a delicious dinner!
Lentil Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This is a family favourite (our five year old clears his plate when it is served), and it’s perfect for the cooler weather we are about to start having. It is incredibly simple to make, and can be served with pastry or mashed potato (or sweet potato) on top. You can find my recipe here.
Roast Vegetable Salad
My next two favourite recipes include roasted vegetables. They’re healthy, super easy to prepare and can be thrown into salads and pastas, or used as side dishes. One of my favourite Summer salads can be thrown together and include your favourite salad veg, along with roasted sweet potato, potato, pumpkin and carrot. You can see the full recipe here for other delicious variations.
Vegetarian Roast Dinner
I always have fond memories of Sunday roasts at my Nana’s house. There are still plenty of meat-free options. Sanitarium make a vegetable roast, seasoned with rosemary and mint. You can also have a go at making your own nut roast. I made a cashew version a couple of Christmases ago. While it was fiddly, it was very tasty and filling, and requested by family again this Christmas!
Caramelised Onion and Tomato Tart
I made a variation of this tart for dinner last week, and it is even more delicious when served as lunch left overs the next day. My recipe is a little simpler than the one above, as I use pre-made shortcrust pastry. Brown the onions and then caramelise using brown sugar. Put the pastry, onions, sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and sliced Bocconcini cheese. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees, and cook until the pastry is crisp and the cheese is melted. The flavours work beautifully together, and is a lovely dish for lunch or dinner.
I hope these recipes might urge you to try something vegetarian in Meat Free Week. You can find lots of great recipes at taste.com.au, and on the Meat Free Week website.
Do you eat any vegetarian meals? What are your favourites?