When I set my mind to something, I nearly always follow through with it. It’s not because I’m an extremely dedicated person, but because I’m an extremely stubborn person. In happy times, Sam would say it’s one of my most admirable traits, in an argument I know he’d say it’s one of my worst. So when we decided to reduce our meat consumption and try to eat vegetarian throughout the week, I really meant it.
People don’t even need to go entirely vegetarian to have a positive impact on the environment: they just need to reduce their consumption. As a foodie, I don’t think I could ever entirely give up meat, but I don’t mind relegating it to be a special treat. There are some marvellous statistics on what would happen if we reduced the amount of meat we ate.
Here are some of my favourites:
- According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
- If everyone in America went vegetarian for just one day, the US would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France.
- If everyone in America went vegetarian for just one day, the US would save 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months.
- If everyone in America went vegetarian for just one day, the US would save 70 million gallons of gas —enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare.
- If everyone in America went vegetarian for just one day, the US would save 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year. (Holla at my home state for popping up in some statistics!)
- If everyone in America went vegetarian for just one day, the US would prevent 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages.
Basically, it would have a pretty amazing effect. That said, pretty much as soon as I’d set my mind to it, I started having wicked cravings for beef bourguignon. It’s probably one of my favourite “classic” dishes that I make. Sam might argue that it’s the best dish that I make. But with a few simple adjustments, I found that I could get all of the same rich flavour and joy out of an entirely vegetarian dish instead. It is mushroom heavy, and I tend to not love mushrooms, but these cook in the rich gravy for so long that they just reduce down and become tender morsels of deep, dark wine capsules.
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 chopped onions
- 2 carrots, diced
- 900 g of mushrooms
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups of full-bodied, dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
- In a large caserole pot, melt 3 tablespoons of your butter (reserving 1 for later), and sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic for another minute. Don't fret too much if you get any caramelised sticky bits - they'll just make your flavour more rich. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your pot and then add in your carrots for 5 minutes. Then add in your mushrooms and get them throughly browned.
- Once everything has been sautéd, add in your red wine, salt and pepper, and thyme sprigs. Cook over high heat for around 5 minutes, or until the wine juice has reduced in half. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer and add in your tomato puree, bay leaves and vegetable stock. I like to let it simmer for around 40 minutes on a really low heat. Shortly before taking it off the heat, whisk in the remaining tablespoon of butter and your flour.
- This is one of the dishes that I think really needs to sit to have its flavours really develop. I recommend making it the night before to reheat and serve the next day; or if you're cooking on a weekend, make it in the morning let it sit all day and then warm and serve in the evening.
- I always serve bourguignon with a side of garden peas. I have no idea why! It's just tradition.
What are your favourite meatless dishes?