You might be thinking “well I’m not vegetarian or vegan, so I’m just going to…scroll past”. That doesn’t matter! We’re all extremely aware of the Earth and her poor wellbeing after everything humans have done to this planet. I know Greta Thunberg should have definitely drilled that into you.
As we are all attempting to recycle more, stop using straws and use less carbon emissions, decreasing our meat and dairy intake is also a huge help. Farmed meat causes deforestation and uses fertiliser which produces greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention battery farms and animals being purposely bred and pumped full of hormones, until they’re practically not animals anymore – just so we can enjoy some chicken nuggets?
I’m not saying you need to feel guilty every time you smell bacon or deeply need a hangover burger from Maggie May’s. However, even just having some meatless or dairy days is already doing some good! If you can’t imagine giving up your Sunday roast and cheese, then don’t! You don’t have to sacrifice everything, and understandably, meat is a huge part of certain cultures – but doing something is better than doing nothing.
A common misunderstanding is that being vegetarian or vegan means you live on the same diet as your pet rabbit, which is absolutely not the case.
I have always loved my fruit and veg, and even as a meat-eater, I found that I actually spent nearly half my week eating vegetarian or vegan, without even meaning to. I’ve only been an official vegetarian for 9 weeks now, and it’s been great! Yes there’s been some moments where I’ve had to have a stern talking to with drunk me (though many vegetarians admit to cheating for a McDonalds or kebab after a night out). However, one thing that’s hugely helped me is ‘fake meat’ or meat-alternatives. Not only are they tasty, some scarily meat-like (am I just being fed meat and lied to? Unsure) and providing me with protein that I’m losing due to the absence of meat in my diet, but they’re available to buy almost everywhere.
Here, I’m sharing some of my favourites.
- Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg! The Smoky ‘Jack’ Quarter Pounder
Look at them. Don’t they look deliciously like any real beef burger? As this person is a meat-eater (gathered from 5 minutes of stalking this account), these jackfruit burgers are in pretty high respect. Honestly, when I first tried them, if you’d told me they were real meat I would have believed you. Jackfruit is this magical fruit that when cooked, has the same texture as meat, frequently used to make pulled ‘pork’. At 160 calories, even if you normally eat beef burgers but want the same taste and texture, but are trying to cut down on calories, fats, and more importantly – meat – these are perfect.
2. Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages
Honestly, they’re wonderful. I still enjoy a good fry-up, or have even cooked these the night before to make a sausage sandwich for my lunch in uni or work the next day.
They also come in red onion & rosemary and there’s chorizo & red pepper sausages too. These sausages are perfect, and so quick and easy to cook without stinking up the whole house with sausage smoke from the frying pan. You can get these in Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Iceland.
3. Vivera Veggie Chicken Pieces
These might look plain and boring, but these plant chicken pieces are perfect as a chicken replacement in almost anything. I made a ‘chicken’ fajitas with them last week, tasted just as good! You can buy seasoned versions of this, but I got the plain ones as I wanted to use one packet for more than one meal and so, I can season them with the appropriate spices for the dish. Vivera do a whole range of vegetarian and vegan foods, including kebab, meatballs, steak, goujons and more. So far, I’ve only tried this product, but I’d love to try more!
Even if you’re slowly easing yourself into vegetarianism, just want to swap out some of your meat during the week, or are already vegetarian and need more meat-alternative options – I recommend these to start with! I appreciate that it’s not everyone’s ‘thing’, but if you want to do a little more to help our planet out, PLEASE consider it. Not only for your own health benefits, but for Mother Earth.
Maya McCloskey is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @maya_papaya30 and Instagram: @maya_mcc