Out of sheer convenience (and the aptitude for a bit of alliteration!) my Monday night dinners have ended up being meat free. And whereas there have been some articles/recipes I’ve written heralding the vegetable as the star of the meal – the mantra behind this article is not about abandoning meat altogether but about the need to moderate meat consumption.
Why am I trying to convince you not to eat meat every day? I hear you say. Well I’m not trying to convince you – eat as you wish;
food should be relished and not merely fuel for our bodies.
Unfortunately, our busy working days have made a proper lunch a thing of the past as we literally grab something on the go to keep our hunger pangs at bay; it is the evening meal that is the focus of my culinary attention.
So where does the Meat-free-Monday-malarkey come from?
Are our bodies designed to eat red meat? Of course they are – we chased woolly mammoth over Siberian plains and feasted on its bountiful flesh. And if it hadn’t been for our ancestors who survived due to this nutrient rich food source, we perhaps might not have evolved at the rate we did or at all! The need to feed made us great hunters. But let’s be realistic, woolly mammoth was a treasured luxury food item during cavemen times – Bronto burgers and Dino ribs a la Bedrock were not a regular feature on the prehistoric menu. After feasting on this mammoth meat – long periods of time were then spent foraging for fruit and edible vegetation. If meat were eaten as regularly as we do at present, we would have eaten our way into extinction long before the invention of the wheel!
Throughout history eating meat was a reflection of affluence. The poor were relegated to using cheap, gristly cuts of meat that required long, slow cooking as a means to tenderise and extract flavour but their diet was primarily cereal and vegetable based. Meat was and still is expensive. The rich could purchase any meat and poultry they wished and employed cooks and chefs to create elaborate creations with these.
Western affluence has, over time, changed our diets so that we are eating much more meat on a daily basis than before. Fast food chains in major cities dedicated to the sale of chicken spew out thousands of whole chickens to their customers on a daily basis; whereas burger chains have had to destroy land to create grazing ground for cattle. The impact this has on the environment is a huge but saddening reality of our modern society. We plead ignorance but there is no denying that the casual attitude with which we accept the taking of an animal’s life makes us very comfortable in wasting parts of the animal that wouldn’t previously have gone uneaten. This perpetual cycle of waste is a total injustice to the animals we rear as food.
These canines were not designed to tear through celery
Even though our teeth are clearly meant to cut, rip and tear through meat, eating a diet that is heavy in red meat has been scientifically proven to be detrimental to your health. Other than the well reported cases of increased cases of colorectal cancers amongst meat eaters in comparison to vegetarians, there are now increasing studies suggesting that consumption of red meat can increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
In nations such as Switzerland it is good practice for children to dine on fish or vegetable dishes at dinnertime as meat can be very heavy on the stomach and takes a long time to digest. Most evenings we become sedentary in front of the TV immediately after dinner; we all know the problems of going to bed on a full stomach.
So with a more informed outlook on the value of the animal, a seasonal ideology and a firm will to improve my health (as well as a cheaper shopping trolley) I feel I must equip you with meat free recipes for four meat-free Mondays in the month.
- Pasta alla Puttanesca
- Butternut squash or mushroom risotto
- Spaghetti with salmon and spinach
- Medley of mushrooms on toast (No recipe needed!)
So after the Sunday Roast and all the trimmings why not give your stomach a rest with a meat-free monday dish? Click on any of the links to take you to the recipe.
Have you got any personal favourites?