What happens when an avid meat-eater goes (almost) a week with no meat? Well, that’s what this girl did, and today I’m writing about my meat-free week.
A couple of weeks ago, in celebration of #meatfreeweek, I did 5 days with no meat – something very unusual for me. Ever since I was young, I’ve always been a picky eater, and meat has nearly always been the core part of any meal I’ve eaten. I bloody love a barbecue, I love a KFC, and boy don’t even get me started on a steak! Equally though, I know meat isn’t as good for you as we all once thought, and I know there are measures we all need to take to help our environment, so the meat-free week was worth a try.
There were two main reasons I wanted to try meat-free week: to try something new. I’m very stuck in my ways in many senses, and growing up I was a super picky eater. To have a reason to come home to different meals was a good excuse for me to broaden my tastebuds and force myself to try some new flavours!
The second reason was to help the environment, and our planet. I’m not the most educated about the effect meat has on our environment, so I’m conscious not to share any false information.
That said, I know that the meat industry has a massive detrimental effect on our environment – extreme land and water use being two of the key impacts.
As this impact has become more widely shared, studied and accepted, I know and feel like I have a part to play in this issue and I need to work to help – no matter how small that part may be.
My meat-free week consisted of 5 fully meat-free days, and on Saturday the only ‘meat’ I had was fish – something I feel isn’t quite as bad as red-meat. Although, I know there are issues with the fishing industry too which is a story for another day.. one step at a time right?!
In general, I had my usual cereal for breakfast every day, and for lunch, I had either granola and yoghurt with fruit or a salad with falafels.
On Monday I had a Cannelloni bean casserole with veggie meatballs and bread. On reflection this was one of my favoured meals – the bread helped make it filling and the veggie meatballs were a perfect alternative for real meat.
On Tuesday, we had Veggie paella. Paella is one of my favourite dishes, which I normally have with chicken. Although I missed the texture of chicken, this was a really lovely meal which I can see being good to play around with different spices and Quorn alternatives.
Wednesday was the meal I was most excited for, but was unfortunately disappointed most by! We had Linda McCartney Mozzarella burgers with chips and beans – a real English meal! I had high hopes for these burgers but unfortunately, they just weren’t for me – the textures and the flavours just didn’t work. Right now, I’m looking for meat alternatives that taste as similar to their meat counterparts as possible. Any recommendations send them my way!
Thursday night in the Cole household is homemade curry night, and mum whipped together an Aubergine and chickpea tikka masala curry. I loved the flavours of this – it tasted just like my usual Chicken tikka masala, but I wasn’t such a big fan of the texture of the aubergine. I’d love to play around with this recipe and swap the aubergine out for some other veggies.
On Friday we were out for dinner at Zizzi. Despite there being a few vegetarian options, I really fancied a classic Margherita pizza, so that’s exactly what I had. I have pizza quite often, so it was nice to go out and not feel like I was restricted because I was doing a meat-free week.
By the time Saturday came around, I was grateful to enjoy some fish, and on Sunday I did enjoy a meat-feast family barbecue. There were a few things I noticed throughout the week.
The biggest thing I missed, which has surprised a lot of people, is the texture of meat. In each of these meals there was a lack of tough texture that meat brings to meals. Despite the flavours being there, I felt as though some meals were a bit ‘mushy’.
Another thing I found was that I was pigging out on sweets at night a lot (Starburst, which are thankfully vegetarian!). I’m not a big sweet eater but I wonder if this was more phycological – I knew I wasn’t getting the meat I usually want, so I compromised with having sweets for dessert instead.
Ultimately, I found meat-free week easier than expected. Granted, a lot of that is down to my wonderful mum whipping me up some veggie meals most nights – I felt I would have struggled if I’d have had more choice in the matter. But equally, now I’ve done it, I’d be open to trying more things.
I think the next steps for me are to experiment – try out different alternatives and eventually find meals I enjoy. It’s all a learning process, and although I’m not going to go entirely meat-free anytime soon – I’m keen and willing to reduce my meat intake week-to-week.
Are you a veggie, or have some fave veggie meals? Let me know in the comments!