I remember on a childhood holiday well over 30 years ago, going to a vegetarian restaurant in the Lake District with my parents, having a delicious meal and such was the strength of the menu not actually noticing the lack of meat on the menu until after we had finished. There were far far fewer vegetarians 30 years ago, now vegetarianism and veganism is main stream, but for its time that restaurant was both trail blazing and an example for the future.
I am not vegetarian or vegan, but we eat a largely vegetarian – even vegan diet – I estimate that about 50% of my meals are solely plant based, 25% vegetarian, 20% contain a small amount of meat or fish, and a small number are meat or fish based – even so half the plate is still always vegetables. I have no real ethical problems with consuming and using animal products, but I think that they are increasingly becoming a luxury, and as much as I dislike dietary labels I would describe myself as primarily plant based or as a meat reducer.
There can be no argument that reducing your consumption of animal products reduces your impact on the environment. The vast swathes of the Amazon rainforest which are being cleared for the growth of soya which is used to feed animals raised for meat. The same area of land, or amount of water used to raise animals will provide plant based foods for many times the number of people. Livestock; especially cows, emit greenhouse gases, manure finds its way into waterways and causes algal blooms, depleting oxygen from the water killing fish and other aquatic life.
It is all very well for individuals to their bit, but to make a big difference companies need to get involved. I am pleased to learn that OVO Energy, who have a 100% renewable energy plan, is taking part in the Meatless Monday campaign to do their bit for the environment, and they asked me to make a meatless dish and to save some energy whilst cooking it.
To save some energy and reduce waste I:
- Cooked in bulk – this dish easily serves 6 – leftover can be frozen, and are perfect for lunch.
- Cooked two different things in the oven at the same time
- Cut the vegetables into small pieces to speed up roasting time
- Used all the vegetables left over at the end of the week that were at the bottom of the fridge
- Cooked enough for interesting leftovers, the leftover roast vegetables can be made into soup, a pasta sauce, added to frittatas, or used as a pizza topping.
- Turned the oven off 10 minutes before the end of cooking time
- 1.5 kg of mixed vegetables cut into 1.5cm cubes. Use a mix of carrot parsnip, sweet potato, peppers, red onion, butternut squash or pumpkin.
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 150 g quick cook brown rice
- 150 g quinoa
- 1 x 440g can chopped tomatoes
- 550 ml vegetable stock
For the vegetables preheat the oven to 180C / GM5.
Place all the ingredients into a large roasting tray, give a good shake to cover in the oil cook for 45 minutes.
For the rice and quinoa fry the onion in a casserole suitable for the hob for a few minutes until it is translucent, add the rice, quinoa, tinned tomatoes and stock, and allow it to come to a simmer. Put the lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
Stir in half the roast vegetables, add a little water if needed and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes (turn the oven off when you put the pot back in).
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt, toasted flaked almonds and chopped herbs.
The timing will work if you start preparing the bake about 15 minutes after the roast vegetables have been put in the oven.
Recipe commissioned by Ovo Energy