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I’ve been thinking a lot lately, both about our health, and about our environmental responsibility. There are so many reasons to reduce our intake of red meat, so I’ve been looking at moving towards a ‘flexitarian’ diet.
The BBC Good Food website defines Flexitarianism as “an increasingly popular, plant-based diet that claims to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health with an eating regime that’s mostly vegetarian yet still allows for the occasional meat dish.”
Up until recently, we’d been eating meat at almost every evening meal. The more I’ve read about both the environmental and health impacts of eating red meat, the more I’ve wanted to reduce our consumption of it. When reading about flexitarianism, though, it mentions only occasional meat consumption. I don’t think that this is something that we’d want to move to entirely, particularly as both gluten and lentils are triggers for my IBS. But certainly a move towards choosing white meat instead of red, and enjoying more fish and vegetarian meals is something that we feel we can achieve.
My first foray into vegetarian cooking wasn’t a successful one. I decided to try substituting beef mince for quorn in my favourite slow cooker chilli recipe. This was a definite mistake! The taste was okay, but the texture was absolutely hideous, and I couldn’t finish my meal. I was so upset as I had kind of sprung this idea of a lifestyle change on Matthew, and then followed through my serving him slop. Not my finest culinary moment!
Fortunately, I have since tried again and made a delicious double bean roasted pepper chilli from my trusty slow cooker recipe book*. The children loved it and Matthew and I agreed that we didn’t even notice the ‘missing’ meat. I’ve also made a really tasty vegetable lasagne from the same book, so it’s been a relief to still be able to use my slow cooker, as that was one of my 19 goals for this year.
I’ve also invested in a new Jamie Oliver cook book*, which has given me lots of ideas for new family meals to try. I’m actually really enjoying experimenting with different recipes, and I think the whole family is enjoying the wider variety of meals that we have to try. The girls are certainly clearing their plates, which is great as I refuse to cook separate meals for them. We all eat the same meals, together as a family.
So far, I’ve only experimented with vegetarian dishes, but I’m looking forward to trying some new fish dishes, too. We all enjoy a fish pie during the colder months, so I’m keen to see if there are some more summery fish-based recipes that I can cook over the coming months, too.
It’s too early to tell what kind of impact this change is having on our health. We’ve never really eaten unhealthily, anyway, and none of us are overweight. But I do hope we’ll soon see an impact both in a reduced amount of food waste, as I’ve got back into meal planning again, and a reduction in the amount of money that we’re spending on our meals. I think this will come from a combination of food waste reduction, and the fact that veggies are cheaper than cuts of meat. I’ll make sure I keep you posted with how we’re getting on in a few months’ time!
How about you? Have you changed your meat-rich diet to a flexitarian one? Or even gone vegetarian or vegan? If you’re thinking about trying a plant-based diet but you’re concerned about how it might affect your body, you could always try nutritional testing to make sure that everything is tickety-boo. Is this something you’d ever consider? Tell me about your experiences in the comments; I’d love to hear!
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