A meat free month: week two

Read about week one here.

This week I planned to make the most of so much of the great root veg that’s in season at the moment. I filled the fridge with beetroot, celeriac and leeks, thinking of nourishing warm winter salads with their comforting earthy flavours, whilst I tried to put week one’s lapse behind me. I had no plans that would tempt me off the path of meatless eating, so I was feeling pretty positive about the week to come.

On an evening when my imagination has gone to sleep… an earlier, more inspired version of myself has a list of dishes at the ready

Every weekend I sit with my coffee at the ready and plan out the meals that I’ll cook in the days that follow. It’s my foundation for a shopping list and helps me to ensure I’m not over-buying groceries and ultimately wasting food. It’s a habit I got into last year and has been really helpful in not only organising myself, but also getting me out of my comfort zone, so I don’t just buy the same ingredients and cook the same dinners every week. It also means on an evening when my imagination has gone to sleep long before I’ve made any food, an earlier, more inspired version of myself has a list of dishes at the ready and I won’t need to schlep off to the shop for a missing vital ingredient.

I have found this habit particularly useful in temporarily removing meat from my diet, knowing that I won’t accidentally throw in some pancetta into a pasta sauce or return to the familiar chicken thighs with lemon and capers. And, whilst I don’t always stick to the plan, at least I know what I’m prepared and ready for.

End of week two

As a recap from last week, my reasons for doing a month meat free were to both force myself into getting more creative with vegetarian cooking and to see if no meat in my diet see made me feel any different. The end of this week means that we’re halfway through my meatless month and, I must say, I’m not feeling too bad.

In terms of creativity I’m trying to go out of my way in trying new recipes. And I don’t just mean cobbling something new together from the assortment in my fridge, I mean finding new ideas from those that have researched and tested flavour combinations or reinterpreted what has gone before. This led me to try a winter panzanella from Food52 and Anna Jones’ celeriac steaks with salsa verde .

I’ve always loved celeriac, with it being a favourite Sunday lunch side dish at my parents’, so it comes as no great surprise to me that I enjoyed Anna Jones’ recipe. Celeriac is somewhat fresher than other root vegetables, having a celery-like flavour with an earthy nuttiness underneath. It is without a doubt an unsung hero this time of year, but with its reasonably alien appearance I’m not surprised it puts some people off. It reminds me of the mandrakes in the second Harry Potter film, gnarled and screaming, except just begging to be roasted or sauteed in butter.

Week two dinners:

  • White pizza with courgette, ricotta and lemon at Gazzo Pizza
  • Kale, quinoa and mushroom salad
  • Cauliflower and beetroot curry
  • Roasted pepper veggie chilli
  • Celeriac steaks with salsa verde
  • Green fried rice with kale, broccoli, peas and beans

Health-wise I feel absolutely no different. If I’m completely honest I think a month is probably to short a time to feel any real change, or maybe it’s that not having a super processed, meat heavy diet to begin with I shouldn’t expect much. I was hoping that I might feel a little more energised or less lethargic, but maybe what I really need is some good ol’fashioned sunshine instead of these grey January days.

I can now look at a picture of a wonderfully charred rare steak without drool running down my chin

However, one improvement this week has been a reduction in the meat cravings I was having. I can now look at a picture of a wonderfully charred rare steak without drool running down my chin, which means it’s ok to look on instagram again. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about sausages, burgers and oxtail so much in such a short space of time as I did last week, but that’s certainly based on the idea of restricting my diet, not fever-esque dreams based on a lack of protein or other. So, whilst I know that I will be eating meat again in a couple of weeks, I do feel that I have put any lapses from my meat free month behind me.

Let me know if you have any ideas or recipes for next week’s meat free menu!