If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll know that I love cooking with vegetables. They’re endlessly versatile, they bring colour to every dish, they’re ridiculously good for you and over time, they’ve outgrown meat and fish as a key part of my grocery shop.
I didn’t grow up in a household where a meal wasn’t complete without some form of meat, in fact quite the opposite. My mum is a naturally brilliant cook, she ran her own catering business for many years, and brought us up with every meal cooked from scratch. It wasn’t something she made a point of doing, but buying anything which was pre-made just seemed unnatural to her, and that is how my sister and I cook today. When we were young, every meal was different, and not every meal included meat, because when it was cooked from scratch with a great recipe or playing it by ear, it was very clear to see that a meal didn’t have to include meat or fish in order for it to be wholesome.
So, now that I am a grown woman, and I can do whatever I want, here are a few other reasons as to why meat is now no longer a staple part of my diet.
How it began:
When I left England I began this blog with a goal of cooking as resourcefully and as ethically as possible, and I found that it was much easier, and cheaper to do so if meat wasn’t a part of my grocery shop. There is a market which sets up shop right next to my building at Place Jean Zay, and the produce which they supply is completely bio (the certificates, stickers etc. are always on display around their stalls), the fishmongers and butchers are all more than happy to talk to you about how their livestock is raised and slaughtered, however unsurprisingly, it costs a little bit more than I would be willing to pay on a weekly basis.
My local organic grocery store, Bio c Bon, stocks whole chickens but still, it can be for around 15 euros and it’s wrapped in cling film and polystyrene which I’m not a huge fan of, especially if I’m paying that much for one. So, I decided to go to the market with my own containers as always when the craving for meat strikes me (I still have yet to go), I feel like the trigger will be when I decide I would like to make a change from vegetable stock.
I am not a vegetarian:
No, I am not a vegetarian. This is clear to see from such posts as Thanksgiving, Lamb Kalia, and Coq au Vin etc. however, what these posts all have in common is that they come under my ‘This Calls for a Celebration’ category. I do not cook meat very often, but when I do, it’s because it’s a special occasion and there for I will spend forty euros on an organic shoulder of lamb, a turkey or about half that price for a whole chicken which has been ethically sourced because the occasion calls for it, and it makes me spend a lot more time and care on making the meal as good as it possibly can be.
When we go out to dinner, I don’t always go for the meat or fish option. Just last weekend my partner in crime, Emily came to visit and I took her to one of my favourite bio restaurants, La Bascule, and we ordered four of their tapas dishes as opposed to a main meal each, and three out of the four dishes we ordered didn’t include meat. Our dishes were: Baked camembert with pomegranate coulis and crushed walnuts, mushroom soup with truffle oil, smoked goats cheese croquettes, and céviche de merlu which is a cold hake dish served with chilli and a citrus dressing. The mushroom soup and baked camembert were the winners of the evening and this is just one of where the most delicious dish won’t always be the meat option which is a thought I always keep in mind when ordering in restaurants.
I am also certainly not a vegan. The cheese here is just too damn good.
Also, I’m about to go back to England for Christmas and you know that Mama Goodden’s cooking is going to be on point.
As previously mentioned, very often when you buy cuts of meat or fish from a chain grocery store, it’s wrapped in plastic, and I don’t want the meat that I’m going to cook at home to contain chemicals from the plastic which will then be stirred into the rest of the dish. Buying packaged meat also means yet another non-recyclable material entering the home which will then have to be thrown away and end up in a landfill which and although I’m just one person, that’s not a factor I want to think about when all I’m aiming to do is cook a delicious meal.
Also, it is so much easier to shop zero waste when shopping for vegetables. You can bring along your cloth bags and gather to your heart’s content. Although, instead of doing a ‘weekly shop’ in a supermarket, I now do a grocery shop a couple of times a week in my local Bio c Bon, I find that way there’s less chance of anything not being used up in time before they go bad, and it’s also a more relaxed way of planning my meals.
Cooking for two:
I live with my partner Loums, and we didn’t really have a sit down talk about fading out meat from our weekly shop as I didn’t cook it in every meal to start with. In any case, a couple of months ago I asked him if he minded how much less meat I cooked, to which he said that when he goes out to eat at lunch with his colleagues around Parc Monceau, he almost always orders a meal with meat in it and so it’s better to end the day on a lighter dish.
In terms of my lunch, I either bring leftovers from home or we go out to eat where I either go for a veggie dish like a salad or depending on the place, I go for the meat option.
Vegetables and pulses are where it’s at:
I love cooking with vegetables, you can make the most delicious and wholesome dishes from each and every type of cuisine around the world with them, you don’t have to cook ‘a vegetarian dish’, just don’t include meat and up the amount of vegetables you put in. Have one vegetable as the star of the show, like sweet potato, cauliflower, mushrooms, red kidney beans, chick peas, lentils, butternut squash, courgettes, the list goes on, and build up everything around it to make soups, risottos, curries, casseroles etc. and it such an easy, liberating and rewarding way to buy and cook your food.