It’s that time of the year again, when some of the country get to feel pretty smug about themselves – International Vegetarian Week!
Vegetarianism as a diet has become increasingly popular for a wide range of reasons – which we will detail here – and initiatives such as Meat Free Monday are making an effort to encourage people to eat at least less meat.
So why is a vegetarian diet becoming more normal?
1. It’s Cheaper
Meat is expensive! Meat-free alternatives, on the other hand, tend to be quite reasonably priced, while fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts are practically cheap.
2. It’s Good For The Environment
The livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to global climate change thanks to the huge amount of natural resources spent on feeding, rearing and transporting animals and meat. Forests are cut down, and per square metre far more people can be fed from plants than meat. Essentially, it’s really wasteful to produce this much meat. If you don’t want to give up meat entirely, consider reducing the amount of red meat your consume, opting for fish or chicken instead.
Also, cow farts are a surprisingly large contributor to global warming!
3. It’ll Help You Lose Weight
Eating vegetarian is like being on a diet – you cut out huge amounts of unnecessary fat and salt just by not eating meat, especially red meat. It helps that there is less unhealthy fast food for vegetarian diets – if you’re not eating meat, you won’t be tempted by a dirty kebab that can contain as much as 2000 calories.
4. It’s Healthier
It’s not only healthier in a weight loss sense, it’s also better for you in the long run. Those who consume a vegetarian diet are at a much lower risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, a major killer in men. Vegetarians who eat sensibly for their diet tend to live longer than their steak-guzzling counterparts.
5. It’s Cleansing
The environment is full of chemicals and toxins, all of which accumulate through animals, leading to ingestion of large amounts. Plant foods are at the bottom of the food chain, which means you get many less contaminants and toxins than by eating the meat or fish which first consumes the plants.
Of course there’s no point becoming vegetarian if you aren’t going to eat healthily. This diet requires some special considerations, as it can easily be lacking in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12. However it isn’t necessary to swallow lots of supplements provided you eat well.
Protein is the major issue, but it can easily be found in legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grain cereals and soy products such as tempeh and tofu.
It isn’t even necessary to go completely vegetarian to have some of the effects above. If every Australian went meat-free for a week, nearly 10 million animals would be spared the hell of factory farms. You don’t have to go without your bacon and steak, just try to eat meat-free one day a week!
Vegetarian Dim Sum
You will need:
- 2 peeled cloves of garlic
- 1 thumb-sized knob of ginger
- Fresh coriander
- Nut oil
- 450g mixed mushrooms
- 2tbsps rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce
- 2 tbsps soy sauce
- 4 spring onion
- 1 red chilli
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 400g can of coconut milk
- 500g self-raising flour
- Sea salt
- 2 tbsps sesame seeds
- Hoisin sauce
Start by making the filling. Finely slice the garlic and ginger, and slice the coriander stalks.
Heat the nut oil in a large frying pan, then add garlic, ginger and coriander stalks. Fry for about three minutes until golden.
Slice the mushrooms, then add to the pan and cook for five minutes until lightly golden brown.
Add in the vinegar, chilli sauce and soy sauce. Cook for another five minutes until the liquid has boiled off. Put aside in a bowl.
Trim and then finely slice the spring onions, adding the white bit to the bowl. Add half of the deseeded and sliced chilli, and stir in the sesame oil.
Add your coconut milk and flour with salt to the food processor. Blend it into a dough then transfer out onto a floured surface before rolling into a thick sausage shape. Cut this into twelve pieces, making each piece into a ball and then a round.
Divide the mushroom mix between the pieces of dough, around 1 tbsp per circle, leaving a 2cm gap around the edges. Pull these edges up and over the filling, pinching together, then place upside down in a lightly greased muffin case, putting one of each into your bamboo steamers.
Put a wok on a high heat, fill with a litre of boiling water and put the steaming basket on top. Reduce the heat way down, and steam for around 12 minutes until puffed up and hot.
Toast some sesame seeds in a little frying pan, and sprinkle over the top of the cooked buns. Garnish with the rest of the chilli and spring onions, and finally coriander leaves and hoisin sauce.