In a more eco-conscious world, it is vital that we constantly evaluate what we eat, where we eat and how we eat. The statistics are there, in our face, impossible to ignore now. Cattle produce 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, 80% of deforestation is due to agriculture, one-third of the food we produce goes to waste, and so on.
In western civilisation, it’s important that we analyze our food use, wastage, and source. We have the luxury, to eat well and eco-conscious and we really should have started that ten years ago (at least) but better late than never, right?
Being on a budget not only increases stress levels derived from monitoring incomes and expenses but also, it adds to feelings of helplessness with these issues when the eco-friendly option just isn’t affordable.
But it doesn’t hurt to try, even if we’re broke. I began by investing in a swanky reusable water bottle from Amazon which didn’t break the bank, but there are more affordable ones in Tiger. Reusable coffee cups are a steal in Primark, and a bar of soap is better than a bottle.
A local fruit and vegetable store usually equals less plastic packaging and more local food, hopefully cutting down on the carbon emissions of food travel. You can get a tote bag anywhere nowadays and they are nifty enough to keep in your handbag in case of a last-minute dash to the shop.
Doing fewer washes, only buying clothes that will be worn a lot, and recycling (although in Spain this can prove difficult!) are all doable options, even for the broke. The next cheap step for me is to buy some bamboo toothbrushes and charcoal toothpaste in a glass jar. I read recently that every toothbrush we have ever used is probably still somewhere on this earth, and that gave me shivers.
Veganism isn’t necessarily the answer, but less meat is. The meat is a problem, and though it may be risky and impossible to change an international preference for it, cutting down is doing something.
I admit I’ve failed at vegetarianism on more than one occasion, always sneaking a slice of pepperoni pizza or cooking up a tasty bacon sandwich, so for me veganism is a stretch.
To go full vegan and cut out not only cheese and eggs but honey and mayonnaise and so much more, seems unbearable. But to look at it through a different lens; as an upgrade of vegetables and carbs to the forefront of a dish, appears more feasible.
Opt for vegetable stock, substitute meat with sweet potato, falafel, or tofu. Eat less cheese and drink more soya milk. Coconut yoghurt may be a little pricier – but its tastier than natural yoghurt anyway. Put broccoli in the carbonara instead of bacon. Go to vegan restaurants occasionally or order the vegetarian option (their usually more interesting anyway) while your friends dig into a hamburger. Or better yet, nag your meat-eating friends about cutting down a little, that’s sure to help somewhat. Ask for your drink without the straw.
If we stopped assuming our little changes wouldn’t help the environment at all, then maybe we wouldn’t be in this pickle, to begin with. Every little helps.
So, I try to make eating without meat, and half-veganism, a little bit of fun. I don’t identify as vegan or vegetarian or meat-eating, I just like what I like and if I can eat more environmentally conscious, all the better.
A delve into vegan experimentation has been fun and satisfying. A lack of meat doesn’t just mean ‘Rabbit food’ and certainly doesn’t just mean a lump of carbohydrates or some measly nuts.
Often, I find cooking without meat more exciting. And it doesn’t have to involve extortionate health food-shop visits or an overpriced bio-section.
Today’s recipe is my first wholly vegan dish I mastered (that wasn’t just pasta and tomatoes) and I first cooked it up for a vegan friend who shoveled it down and rated it what I considered a stuffed-mouth version of a A+.
Time Needed: 40 minutes
1.5 cups of Rice – I use the classic Ikea cup as a measure. This amount should cost you approx. 30cent.
1x Cartoon of Tomato Frito/Passata (425g) – A pack of 3 is 1 euro, so 33cent each give or take
1 large Sweet Potato – a big one should be no more than €1.
300g of Butter beans, chickpeas or black bean’s (whatever you prefer)- for this amount it should be just under €1 but sometimes you might have to buy a big jar and use half, which is closer to €2.
1 Red Pepper – Approx. 50 cent depending on if you buy individually or as a packet.
About 200g of mushrooms – roughly 30cent.
3 or 4 cloves of Garlic – Price n/a
1 fresh Chilli (to taste) or a couple of tablespoons of chilli flakes, or both – about 20 cent a chilli.
1 Vegetable stock cube – a packet of 20 is about 70cent so the price for this amount would be under 10cent!
A Handful of Spinach – not a must but it is a bit tasty – €1.50 a packet, so less than 50cent for this recipe.
Some Coconut yoghurt (yum) or even Soya Yoghurt to serve really adds a lot to this recipe – a big pot of it costs about €1.80 but you can eat it at another time, with fruit or on its own and its delicious. If you’re not bothered about being 100% vegan than normal natural yoghurt will do, which is about 20cent for an individual small pot which is all you would need.
½ a small Avocado – not necessary but tasty, just for serving. A small one costs about 80cent so this is about 40cent for a half!
Total Cost: About €4.50 or less.
- Peel and chop sweet potato into bite-sized chunks and put in a pot.
- Pour in the passata, and a cup of boiling water and turn on the heat to full blast; cover with a lid.
- While that comes to the boil, chop garlic and chilli and add to the pot, and mix.
- Add stock cube when it is boiling. Stir and turn down to a high simmer.
- Chop pepper and mushrooms and add to the pot with the paprika.
- After 10 minutes, and the beans.
- Boil rice.
- Stir pot mixture occasionally, in total it should be simmering for about 20-30 minutes, until sweet potato is soft and other the sauce is tasty.
- Add spinach.
- Season to taste.
- When sweet potato is soft, serve over rice with some coconut yoghurt (and some avocado if you have it!) and enjoy!