Keith Squires gives us 5 good reasons to go Vegan or Vegetarian in time for Vegetarian Week
Vegetarian week falls on 14-20 May this year and gives you a chance to try vegetarian food on for size. Choosing a vegetarian diet is making a simple choice to avoid meat and meat-based products. With so much choice in our supermarkets these days, vegetarians have never been so well catered for.
Vegan chef, Keith Squires, is based in the Snowdonia mountains and has written a cook book to encourage and help people who want to go Vegan. In his own words, Keith dispels some myths and educates us on going vegetarian.
“I went to my favourite park the other day to feed the birds. There was a big sign with a cross through white bread, pizza, chips, burgers with a health warning that it’s bad for the birds health! Then a list of good things whole grains, seeds and leafy vegetables all great plant based foods. This is more or less the same as what we are recommending for Vegetarian Week.
1. Health and nutrition
As soon as we give up unhealthy food everyone worries about nutrition. Am I getting enough protein and energy? Don’t worry there is nothing unnatural about eating natural food. There are a few simple rules to follow. Just combine grains like rice and good bread with pulses to make a great combination of protein and carbohydrates.
The only other thing to consider is the oils. We need good fats. These are the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. Luckily these are present in healthy nuts and seeds. Most of us are deficient in omega 3. It is a very volatile oil that goes off quickly so doesn’t tend to be present in foods we buy off the shelf. One of the best sources are linseeds which have 50% omega 3 oil. It best to grind them fresh at home. Or buy a good quality linseed oil that is kept in the fridge.
Save the Earth
If you are worried about the environment eating a more plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do! Pulses are legumes which fertilize the soil by fixing nitrogen and reduce the need for chemicals. After harvesting the beans the plants can be ploughed back into the soil where they decompose and release nitrates for next year’s crop.
Plants produce a lot more food per acre that you get when they are fed to animals. It is a magnitude higher so ten times as much. This means we need less land to feed a hungry world.
Save Money Too!
There is a misconception that eating healthy food is expensive.
Not only is this food better for the environment but it does not cost the earth in another way. This healthy diet based on pulses, grains and vegetables is very cheap. Lentils, rice and split peas can cost as little as 50p or £1 a kilo. When cooked both expand and double or triple in mass making the real cost less than 50p. The other main ingredients are seasonal vegetables which are also great value at around £1 or £2 per kilo.
We have ensured you can take these meals to work and save buying a sandwich or take away. It soon adds up and we can spend £5 on food plus £2.50 on hot drinks. Add a snack later on and we can be spending £10 a day, that amount up over the month to £300. Remember too this is your hard earned cash after tax. With your saving on groceries, this food is really giving you a bonus of over £500 a month or a £6000 a year wage rise!
Enjoy Less Stress
Also lining up for food is stressful when you only have so much time. There is always a big queue and it takes longer than you want. Then you end up eating it on the way back to your desk.
With our easy one pot dishes you can take them to work in a food thermos and just chill. Walk out of your office sit on your favourite bench and calmly crack open your tin. Thinking of the little mini break you can have every month with all the cash you now have.
The other reason of course is to reduce animal suffering. No one likes intensive animal farms so this is a great way of avoiding it. Even free range animals have to killed to produce meat so lots of people want to take themselves out of that food chain.
Really each of these, health, cost, environment and animal suffering are good enough reasons to go veggie or more flexitarian. Put together it is quite compelling!
It is difficult to change the way we eat as we were brought up with lots of meat and thought we needed it. So vegetarian week is a great chance to introduce a few new ideas.
I have created 7 dishes one for each day of the week. The idea is that they are easy to make but nutritious. Each meal is power packed with nutritious vegetables and power packed with protein and good oils. But it doesn’t mean you have to be chained to the kitchen sink all week.
These nutritious meals are best slow cooked so we can just prepare a few ingredients and leave it to stew all night in a slow cooker while you peacefully sleep. Or use a pressure cooker for ultra-fast cooking in the morning. Then you will have a one pot stew ready to take to work in a food thermos. Accompanied by a few tasty vegetable sticks and your favourite savoury snacks.”