The ‘plantiful’ life - how to eat less meat in 2021

There are tonnes of health, financial and environmental benefits that come with reducing your meat intake.

With many Kiwis embracing vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyles, it’s also becoming easier to discover new plant-based products and places to eat, which makes 2021 the perfect time to try meat reducing.

But if your household is chock full of self-confessed carnivores – where do you begin?

Have a plan
The key to forming new dietary habits is to plan well in advance. There are free (or cheap) apps to help with meal planning, including Yummly, Mealime, Veganized and Forks Over Knives.

Reframe the conversation
Think of it less about losing meat, and more about making extra room on your plate for nutritious, delicious veggies, nuts and legumes. Talk about new foods to try together as a whanau.

Start small, and grow
Consider going meat free one day each week, like on ‘Meat Free Mondays’. Or swap out half the mince in lasagne or spaghetti Bolognese with red lentils or finely chopped mushrooms.

Bump up the protein
Convert the staunchest carnivores by making every meal satisfying and filling. Experiment with different beans, pea-based meat replacements, lentils, tofu and tempeh, mycoproteins (like Quorn), wholegrains and nuts.

Seek plantiful inspiration
Pretty much every TV chef has written a vegetarian cookbook, and the internet is overflowing with plant-based recipe blogs, Facebook groups for the vegan-curious, and veggie-laden Instagram accounts.

Five meat free evening family meals
Made with everyday ingredients, using the minimum of dishes, and full of protein, fibre and nutritious veg’.

• Frittata: Use cooked potato, sweet potato or pumpkin for bulk and structure, then add your family’s favourite colourful veggies and sprinkle with cheese.

• Rainbow stir fry: Use whatever’s in the fridge, add cashew nuts or strips of omelette, and serve on quinoa for extra protein.

• Roast veggie salad: Drain, rinse and roast a can of chickpeas until crisp. Then remove from the roasting dish and roast your veggies. Serve with pesto, fresh herbs and aioli.

• Primavera risotto: Peas and baby broad beans add protein, while green veggies like broccoli, asparagus, capsicum and zucchini add springtime freshness. Top with parmesan, pine nuts and pesto.

• Chilli ‘non’ carne: Bump up your favourite Mexican beans with cooked red lentils for extra ‘meatiness’. Serve with nachos/warm tortillas and a big salad.

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