Less Meat for a Healthy Body and Planet

hot for food vegan comfort classics coverNovember is International Vegan month and is meant to raise awareness of the alternatives to eating meat.  There are a variety of eating plans that emphasis a plant based diet, some include animal products and others don’t , so there is always a way to integrate healthier eating and still enjoy a wide range of foods. In a new survey, by a team at Dalhousie University, half of the over 1000 Canadians interviewed were interested in reducing their meat consumption.  While most Canadians still regard meat as an essential part of their diets, the biggest reason for cutting back was concerns about their health. Other stated reasons include the price, environmental and animal welfare concerns. This new attitude is becoming more common in the Western World and the soon to be updated Canada Food Guide is expected to reflect this change.

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So, if you are among the many who are thinking beyond the meat freezer, where do you begin? There are a number of factors to take into account, including personal taste, budget and time available for meal preparation, and like any lifestyle change trying to go ‘cold turkey’ frequently leads to failure, so for most families starting small is the key.  A great beginning is Meatless Mondays, or whichever day works for you. Another recommended way is to choose to restrict the types of meat you eat, focusing on organic, free-range and humanely butchered selections.  The library carries a huge selection of new cookbooks that can help you through making choices for the fussiest eaters.

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In her new book, Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 recipes to feed you face by Lauren Toyota, the internet star turns common comfort foods, like nachos, cinnamon rolls and mac’n’cheese, into vegan delights that will work for a whole family. If you are worried that eating healthier means endless meals of salad and tofu, then the book Chloe Flavor: saucy, crispy, spicy, vegan by Chloe Coscarelli might change your mind.  Coscarelli was the only vegan chef ever to win the top prize on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and she fills her book with fast and fun recipes like Mango-Guacamole Crunch Burgers and Sea Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  Her Banana Doughnuts with Maple Glaze will put a smile on the face of any foodie.  A great option for someone who is  a rookie cook or who’d rather not spend a lot of time in the kitchen is Sam Turnbull’s Fuss-free Vegan: 101 everyday comfort food favorites, Veganized. The collection does everything from Pizza pockets to blender pumpkin pie.

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If you aren’t quite ready to remove all animal products from your diet, then a vegetarian approach may be what you are looking for.  These recipes don’t include meat but may contain eggs, milk or cheese. In Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemmings’ new book, Vegetarian Any Day: over 100 simple, healthy, satisfying meatless recipes, the authors explore a wide number of meal possibilities from around the world.  Canadian Living Test Kitchen has released The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, which acts like a step by step guide to introducing more plant based eating into Canadian homes.

If you have an air-fryer collecting dust on a top shelf, then Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book 5-Ingredient Air-Fryer Recipes: 200 delicious & easy meal ideas including Gluten-Free  & Vegan will probably save it from becoming a yard sale item.  Saulsbury’s recipes are fully prepared in 15-20 minutes and by staying within only five ingredients, they are also easy and economical.  Or, if you have an Instant Pot then grab a copy of The Ulimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot: 80 Easy and delicious plant-based recipes that you can make in half the time by Kathy Hester.  The author shows you how to prepare a full meal at the same time using a few simple ingredients. Whatever you chose I wish you a month of happy and healthy eating.

Lori Kauzlarick-  www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!

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