I’ve never really been a big meat eater. Even as a child, I’d struggle to eat the meat that was served for dinner and have always gravitated towards what we would in this day and age call a plant-based diet. As much as I’d like to say that this was the conscious decision of a slightly precocious pre-teen, that wasn’t the case. I just didn’t really like meat. The ethical reasons for avoiding it came later. Unfortunately for me, growing up in England in the 1990s didn’t exactly offer an interesting – or palatable – array of vegetarian food options to choose from. Another stuffed mushroom with limp side salad anyone?
Times have of course very much changed, both in terms of the boom in the plant-based food scene, as well as the increasing awareness of the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of a meat-free or reduced diet. With vegetarianism and veganism at an all-time high globally, and increasingly spearheaded by the 15-35 age bracket, South Africa now finds itself ranked amongst the top 25 countries where veganism is most popular.
With increasing awareness of the meat industry’s impact on the planet’s carbon emissions, reducing your meat intake makes a lot of sense environmentally, but what about its impact on your taste buds?
The ethically tasty choice
The rise of the plant-based food blogging scene, a shift to vegetables as the main event on restaurant menus, as well as popular initiatives like twitter’s #veganhour recipe feed for all your veg-centric inspiration needs, means that it’s never been easier to find good quality meat-free food, whether cooking at home or eating out.
So, if you’re thinking of introducing more plant-based food into your diet, check out these 5 recipes that make exactly 0% compromise on deliciousness. Not a sad little lettuce leaf in sight.
Green Kitchen Stories’ Portobello Mushroom & Peach Burger
With braai season getting into full swing, this most amazing vegetarian burger is a perfect meat-free option. A base of marinated portobello mushrooms stacked with caramelised peaches, salsa and guacamole, this recipe from one of the original vegetarian blogs, Green Kitchen Stories, is pretty much summer on a plate.
The Minimalist Baker’s Spicy Red Lentil Curry
One of the best places online for finding easy ideas for a veg-based weeknight supper, the Minimalist Baker’s Spicy Red Lentil Curry starts with a shop brought curry paste base and layers flavour from there. Packed with protein and vegetables and finished off with creamy coconut milk, make it in double portions to keep you well-fed for days.
Anna Jones’ Proper Chilli
My most boyfriend proof vegan recipe to date, Anna Jones’s meat-free Proper Chilli will help persuade any meat lover that the plant-based equivalent tastes just as good. Full of flavour, beans and pulses, the recipe is vegan but cheese and yoghurt is always a good addition if you enjoy a bit of dairy. Indeed, words cannot describe how fantastic Anna Jones’s vegetarian recipes look and taste. Check out her Instagram. Make her food.
Leozette Roode’s Berry Chia Porridge
Breakfast is a great entry point to working more tasty vegetarian moments into your daily routine. This Protein Berry Chia Porridge, from author of The South African Vegan Cookbook Leozette Roode, is a great way to start the day and -bonus- can be made the night before.
Deliciously Ella’s Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Sauce
An oldie but a goodie in the vegan baking world, Deliciously Ella’s Sweet Potato Brownies with Chocolate Sauce are both ridiculously decadent as well as being completely dairy-free. Proof that going plant-based does not mean passing up on the good stuff.
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