By Imreeta Bajwa
Did you know that meat production is one of the leading causes of climate change? In fact, animal agriculture accounts for 14.5 % of the world’s green-house gas emissions. Reducing your meat consumption and turning to plant based alternatives is a great way of becoming more environmentally sustainable.
The production of meat involves lots of untreated waste such as deforestation, pollution of ground water and run off from insecticides used in intensive farming. Whereas farming for plant based meats includes less carbon emissions, making it much better for the environment.
Below I have recommended some vegan/vegetarian meat options you may want to include in your diet. Choosing what works best for you can be a slight process just as it was for me when I turned vegan two years ago. Simply reducing your meat consumption is a small step in the right direction.
Tofu is made from curdled soy milk and is a good source of protein, iron and calcium. It also contains important minerals such as magnesium and vitamins like B1. You can find it packaged in most local grocery stores and oriental stores. Oriental stores tend to sell organic silky tofu and grocery stores provide popular brands such as – Culdron, ToFooCo and Dragonfly.
BBC food contains some great ways on how to cook tofu – for example the extra firm tofu is best for baking, grilling and stir-fries. Soft tofu is better used in sauces, desserts, shakes and salad dressings.
Some ways I have cooked tofu is by marinating it, coating it with a little oil and roasting it alongside some vegetables. Another way to cook it is by pressing it down with a fork to form little pieces, seasoning it and then frying it in a pan to resemble scrambled egg. It also works as a nice meat substitute in wraps, noodles and soups.
Seitan is a close stand-in for red meat and not is it only low in carbs and fat
but also contains high amounts of protein. It is made from hydrated gluten and you can also make it yourself by using dried gluten powder mixed with water.
Despite it being a little more difficult to find in your local grocery stores it is extremely easy to find in Whole Foods supermarket and online. Some brands you might find both in store and online is love seitan, plant power and biona.
Seitan picks up seasoning very well and can be baked, deep-fried, grilled, steamed and boiled – so there is multiple ways you can cook it. Seitan can also be used in stir-fries, fajitas or even as a ground beef substitute for meals such as bolognaise.
Jackfruit native to South India is high in vitamin C, protein and rich in antioxidants making it a very healthy alternative to meats such as pulled pork. This fruit also helps with blood sugar management as it prevents sugar spikes, alongside illnesses and viral infections with its vitamin C and A content.
You are most likely to find it canned in your local grocery store but there is a possibility that you can find it fresh. Some well-known brands that sell canned jackfruit is biona, organic kitchen and niru pulled jackfruit.
It can be eaten both raw or cooked – if wanting to replace it for pulled pork the best way to cook it is by simmering it in some seasoning and then baking it In the oven. Here is a link to some jackfruit recipes you might want to try.
There are plenty of different foods you can incorporate in your diet to replace meat whilst still receiving adequate amounts of protein. This is an individual step you can take to try and be more sustainable in your day to day life, even if that means not sustaining a full vegan or vegetarian diet.