I have spent the weekend thinking about what we eat and how to bring about change to more meat free meals. Given my efforts for Earth Day last week, where I tried to stay on a vegan diet for the day, including the main family meal, wasn’t the amazing success I was hoping for, I have been working out my next steps.
WWW and EBI
I have school age kids and one of the things they get asked to do often is review what went well (WWW) and to identify the EBIs (Even Better If) for their work in school, homework and test papers. For example: sharing a really good answer with the class or looking at what else you could have included in an explanation to give a better answer. If they got answers wrong on a test paper the teacher might say ‘these are all questions on date facts – use the timeline for your EBI work to help you remember the events’.
Positive steps forward. It means, even if your grade was low, you have some suggestions as to what you could do to improve.
The concept of WWW and EBI worked so well that we use it at home too. Celebrating the WWWs and talking over disappointments to identify EBIs – what they could done differently.
I know this isn’t a parenting blog! But the concept is really useful to me in evaluating my sustainable choices at home. Making new choices can be daunting at the best of times but when something hasn’t worked it can stall the whole process and make you feel like you are back to square one. Having a way forward is important.
My Earth Day challenge – vegan for a day
My Earth Day menu last week was a success in terms of managing to create meals without meat. But to make a vegetarian or vegan meal a success in terms of wanting to eat that way more often, my choices turned out fairly bland and not very inspiring. I need a different approach.
What went well:
- I did actually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner meat free.
- The whole family was open to the idea of more meat free meals (even the youngest even though he didn’t eat much!).
Even Better If:
- I definitely need better meal planning (and be realistic about my cooking ability and the time I have available!). That means looking at my weekly menu and finding recipes ahead of when I am shopping and cooking.
- It would have been much more fun involving the children in the planning and cooking to (something I don’t do at the moment for the average meal!). My eldest really loved being asked to put together the pasta salad.
- It highlighted how the normal meals we eat are familiar and moving to a meat free mode means I actually need to put some half steps in, especially for the children, so they can transition in baby steps.
What do baby steps look like?
I think for us that means varying a ‘normal’ recipe first, for example, adding an extra vegetable to a meal in order to reduce the meat, keeping it familiar, rather than removing meat in one step with multiple new things on the plate. Also, for meals that are completely new, having a very basic version of it so it doesn’t look overwhelming would help. I have been introducing the children to stir fry type meals but we started off just with mange tout, baby corn and carrot so as not to overwhelm them with lots of mixed up veg and the first version had nothing other than a little veg stock as the sauce!
I’m more optimistic than before that changing our diet is possible. Even though last weeks menu wasn’t a hands down success, having tried, I now have new ideas that might work better.
You can read about my food challenge for Earth Day here!
Keeping moving forward, albeit slowly, is the important bit. Right, better plan what we are eating this week!!
Good luck x
Sometimes, ‘fake meat’ can be a really good stepping stone when you’re trying to reduce the animal products you eat. My omnivore kids/husband can’t tell the difference between a ‘real’ burger and a Beyond Meat one so we just buy those instead now (the packaging is actually ok too – a very thin plastic bag inside a cardboard box so better than most ‘blister’ packs). If you’re not allergic to nuts, you can also very finely chop some walnuts (or blend them to a breadcrumb texture) and swap out some beef mince for them in things like bolognese. One of the best swaps we’ve done is the Jack Monroe vegan sausages – I make them without the ‘cheese’ and put them in a ready-roll sheet of puff pastry for really quick vegan sausage rolls. Again, the rest of the family haven’t noticed! https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2020/01/22/everyday-vegan-sausages-38p/
I found the YouTube channel ‘Pick Up Limes’ really helpful when I was starting to explore new recipes (they also have an amazing website https://www.pickuplimes.com/ which helps with ingredient substitution – plus the recipes are written by a dietician/nutritionist so really balanced). I also really like Madeleina Olivia because her recipes generally involve much simpler ingredients and only take five minutes! https://www.madeleineolivia.co.uk/ 😀
Farm thank you ! These are great ideas. Food is something I am really struggling with. We resort to sausages quite a lot because I can tray bake or put them in a stew whiteout needing to stand by the cooker so I love the idea of vegan sausage rolls. I pat myself on the back everytime the rest of the family eat something veggie and celebrate with them that they/ I have tried something new. Slow progress but necessary we relearn our diet.
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