November is World Vegan Month
Right, so as the title suggests, November is not only a month where many men set their focus on supporting the very raw issue of cancer by participating in “Movember” and other projects but it is also lesser known as being world vegan month. I have said it before and I am going to say it again just to avoid any confusion. I don’t by any means follow an authentic vegan lifestyle but I try and live my life as in line with the ethos as possible, wherever possible. I personally don’t enjoy eating meats of any kind, it does not make my body feel good and so I avoid it 95% of the time where I can. I do however really enjoy all things plant based and have all my life. I am not a big egg fan but do really enjoy dairy and so this last year I have been learning to substitute this with dairy free options and it has been going great. In November I challenge myself to go a full 30 days without any meat and this year I am going to try ditch as many animal by products as I can as well. This post isn’t going to be about what I do or what you should be doing either, but I do want to bring your attention to the fact that that taking the time to incorporate even just a few days of at least some “meat free” eating is enough to lessen the burden on our environment and ethically speaking on the lives of many animals that are really being unnecessarily slaughtered and rendered to just the most disgraceful conditions of life because of our insane desire to eat their meat and wear their skins or any other derivative that you can think of. Ok, that is probably the sum total of how “In your face” I am going to get. If you want to know more about world vegan month then you can go have a look on this Facebook page and also check out the Vegan Society website.
Veganism is mindful living in a world of mindless self-indulgence…unknown
But I don’t want to be a vegan
So why don’t you have to be Vegan? Well, you don’t to be honest. True veganism is a lifestyle and generally it is followed by people for religious, cultural or ethical reasons. The fact remains though, you simply don’t NEED to eat meat or animal products every day and it’s that simple. By doing so your actions will not only have a direct impact on the environment and everything in it but It is in actual fact healthier to do so anyway.
Meat Free Monday
I realise I am not posting this on a Monday but the whole concept of things like meat-free Monday’s” have become all the more popular because it is really simple to invest in the thought of going one day a week without meat and better yet anything animal related and besides health and ethical reasons, it is quite easy on your pocket to eat this way if you shop wisely. I am using the MMM concept loosely as a suggestive way of starting to veer towards a more plant-based lifestyle. I know that just cutting out meat alone once a week is little of what the vegan ethos/lifestyle is about and if you truly are interested then do read up about converting to veganism carefully before just jumping it. If you can’t commit, then don’t claim you are something that you aren’t but rather just make subtle changes that can help the cause. That being said, I have noticed that the meat-free Monday concept has in fact led to a much wider flow over into more days of the week being meat free/ animal product free too for many people. I think much of the reason for this is that there is just so much more available in the way of products and foodstuffs on the South African market now that makes plant-based eating much more appealing and easy to achieve without giving up the yumminess of eating things life cheesy or creamy and protein filled dishes that make eating well…. yummy.
I don’t want to just eat salad
If you would like to find out where you can get some amazing inspiration for at least just a “Meat-free Monday” stint then go and check out some of my favorite Facebook pages and websites. Green Monday SA or Meat Free Mondays and Support Meat Free Monday or Fry’s Family Foods and my current favorite space Bosh.TV and the Green Monday website There are many to choose from though and if you aren’t one for cooking yourself and would like to find some amazing spots to eat a plant-based meal then have a look at this amazing list of Vegan eateries. I recently read that even the Western Cape Government: Department of Health has joined the#GreenMondaySA Movement! As part of their employee wellness program which I think it spectacularly forward thinking.
Now onto something yummy. So you love pasta and you love Spaghetti bolognese, so how on this green earth will you ever give up that deliciousness? Well, I am going to tell you how. The Spaghetti Bolognese issue has been one of the biggest hurdles for me because even though minced beef makes me feel like death warmed up through the night and all of the next day, it really is the only meat that I enjoy the taste of and eating (guess it’s because of all the sauce and flavourings when you cook it). I agree that there are “Mince” type products on the market but none have really filled the gap so to speak where a proper bolognese is concerned. That was until I saw an idea for using minced mushrooms and lentils as your “mince” base and so I decided to give it a try. I have to tell you, I was blown away with the result, and my entire family loved it. My kids had no idea there was no meat in it either, and it was so filling and the amount that it made was equivalent to about 2kg’s of mince and the whole meal couldn’t have cost me more that R60 to make including all the veg and condiments. I posted an image of the dish onto Instagram after I made it and had some requests for the recipe and thought that I would share it here for you today. Maybe you can give it a try this Monday, or hell why not tonight?
So here is how you do it.
1 Red Onion (finely chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves (finely chopped)
1 Stick Celery (finely chopped)
2 Medium Carrots (finely diced)
1 Large punnet of chopped mixed mushrooms (Black & Portabilini are good)
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce & 125ml vegan-friendly or homemade BBQ sauce. (Regular store-bought also fine if you are not strictly vegan)
4 tablespoons Tomato Puree and 2tsps of brown sugar.
1.5 cups of cooked brown lentils or 2 tins of organic brown lentils
1 tin Chopped Italian tomatoes
Spaghetti or pasta of your choice.
Garnish: Basil & dairy free cheese
1. Cook the chopped onion, garlic, celery & carrots until they’re soft
2. Put the mushrooms in a food processor & blend until they’re minced
3. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the softened vegetables
4. Add the soy sauce, tomato puree & BBQ sauce, brown sugar & stir through
5. Add the drained cooked lentils stir through
6. Add the tin of tomatoes & stir through
7. Taste & season with salt & pepper accordingly
Cook the spaghetti, drain & stir into the bolognese sauce.
If you prefer less of a Lentil texture then I suggest taking your stick blender and giving it a whizz through with a little bit of water from the pasta pot. This just thins out the consistency and overall feel of the dish. If the mixture seems a little thick then use a little more pasta cooking water or regular water to thin it out slightly. This is what I did after I decided I would prefer more of a “Meat sauce” over a meat dish. There is also no hard and fast rule regarding ingredients. Just about anything goes. I would also suggest using some other nice fresh herbs for more flavor if you’d like. Just add them to the dish while you are cooking.
So why did I write this post? I didn’t write it to try force any of my readers to instantly adopt a different lifestyle, one that so many people automatically assume is a fad. I wrote it to make you think and open your eyes to subtle changes that can be made with only a very little bit of planning. I really hope that you take that away from what I have written here and perhaps give it some thought. I would love to hear from you. And If you are also pledging to go 30 days completely vegan in support of world vegan month, how have you planned and what are your main concerns? I would love to hear from you.
If you like what you have read here and would like to connect with me elsewhere then you can find me on my social channels on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter and if you really liked this post then please do feel free to share it.
*All thoughts in this post are my own. I have no affiliation to any of the brands or websites or cuases that I have mentioned.