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Cuisine Fiend

No meat? No problem

Sun, 5 February, 2023

I love a good steak as much as the next person. But we are all trying to eat less meat these days, for all those less or more noble reasons floating around us in infospace and socioverse.

But some of us struggle. We have an embedded dinner template in our minds, with perhaps not so much meat and two veg of old but still, a portion of protein accompanied by fillers and plants. What to replace the meat/fish space with? The answer is, we have rethink our meals altogether instead of trying to find things to swap meat for.

That’s why all those beyond and impossible junk food producers rub their hands with glee – offering a straightforward swap, with a product so processed, so packed with salt and sugar to delude you into thinking it has taste, that you’d be better off at Golden Arches instead, healthwise.

The upside of ditching meat from your dinner is that you can gorge on rice, grains, pulses or pasta which is often an anathema for the bathroom scales obsessives like me. So think what main dish you’d like to prepare, then decide whether it needs sides to it at all, and you’ll find many don’t.

We’re being hollered at about eating plants all the time, but we tend to forget that anything that’s not meat, seafood or eggs is plant-related. Rice is plant. Pasta is plant, so is bread and the olive oil you dip it in. When you put your mind to it, it turns out it doesn’t sound so ridiculous to attempt to eat 30 different plants a week.

And if you’re just ‘trying to eat less meat’ rather than ditching it altogether, your needn’t worry so much about sufficient protein, iron and vitamin B intake.

I love my veggie meals, especially dinners as my lunch is more often incidentally meatless. I tend to have either soup which rarely has meat in it, or what I call a ‘rabbit bowl’ as it doesn’t quite aspire to be a Buddha bowl. It is a mix of radish, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, sometimes avocado and always a seed topping, generously. With a dollop of crème fraiche if I’m feeling fancy. Wholly recommended, perhaps not after a morning of hard manual labour but perfectly replenishing in a (home) office situation.

Now then, dinners: mejadra (mujaddara) with brown rice is absolutely gorgeous, so is bulgur with roasted root vegetables. If you get hold of so called ‘forbidden rice’, make a black rice risotto with pears. A riff on boring baked potato will be baked sweet potato topped with tahini butter – it will blow your mind.

Tins are always handy: the tomato and chickpea tray bake uses tinned chickpeas. And cheese is your friend, like in autumn vegetable tian for example.

If you want to include meat but just a minimal amount, make dirty rice. And if you need a ‘fake’ meat centrepiece, make it flat iron mushrooms. Mushrooms are the closest to meat in terms of nutrition and texture. So a mushroom ragu to dress pasta with might be the closest thing to the old-school bolognese!

Don’t forget frittatas! My broccoli one is just one example and you can riff on it endlessly.

Hope the above helps to go beyond egg and chips in your meat-trimming efforts. Have a good, plant-plentiful week!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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