If you’re looking at ways to become more sustainable (who isn’t, these days?), taking public transport more often, looking into greener energy suppliers and shopping for eco products are all great places to start. There’s a lot to be said for vegetarianism, too; in fact, it’s been said that giving up beef would be better for the environment than giving up driving.
If giving up meat completely seems like too much of a stretch, it’s probably because you’re casting your mind back to the lentil bakes of yore. Forget them, and you’ll be delighted to find that plant-based alternatives have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade or so. We’re even blessed with great fake bacon (facon!) these days. Here’s our lowdown on what veggie proteins to pick, and how to cook them.
Quorn has been a favourite faux-meat for almost 30 years. Nowadays, you don’t have to buy brand name, either; most supermarkets have their own line of meat-free minces, sausages and burgers. These products are usually made from something called mycoprotein — a naturally occurring protein that’s grown using specialist fermentation technology. Quorn’s production methods mean its carbon footprint is dramatically lower than meat equivalents, and it uses way less water during manufacture as well.
Another great thing about Quorn and its imitators is that, because it’s not meat, it takes a fraction of the time to cook. You can spend hours browning and simmering beef in a saucepan to create the perfect bolognese but once you take the meat out of the dish, as in this fifteen minute recipe, it can be ready in the time it takes to grate some cheese and warm the plates.
Tempeh is a fairly recent addition to UK supermarkets’ vegetarian and vegan aisles, but the Indonesian soy protein has existed for centuries. It’s a shame we’ve been late on the uptake over here — when it’s sliced, fried and seasoned, tempeh’s meaty texture makes it the perfect bacon replacement in a classic fry up, and of course, it’s much more environmentally friendly than meat. This recipe from Tasty uses a mix of soy sauce, liquid smoke and garlic powder to create umami bacon flavour, but you could use other flavours, like paprika or maple, to put your own spin on it. The most important thing, as with all bacon, is to use a high quality, non-stick pan to cook it in.
If tempeh’s centuries-old pedigree impressed you, wait until you hear about tofu: the go-to vegetarian protein for many cultures has been around for millennia. Long gone are the days when you needed to go to a health food shop to buy it, too; now you can pick it up in even the smallest supermarkets. It’s also incredibly versatile. Though it’s maybe best known for popping up in big pans of nourishing noodle soup like this satisfying ramen, you can also try it scrambled for breakfast if you’re ditching eggs, or use it to replace salt beef in Anna Jones’ veggie take on a New York deli sandwich.
What are your favourite veggie proteins? Let us know what we’ve missed off by dropping us a comment on Instagram at @yourprestigekitchen