You might have read about Meat-Free Monday in this paper, and the local campaign to raise awareness and get support from St Albans council. I met local supporters in St Albans Town Hall recently, and thought it well worth finding out more.
The idea is simple: choose to eat meat-free meals on one day of the week. Many of us already eat meat-free meals, but might need a reminder. So, if you automatically reach for a chicken sandwich for lunch, why not choose cheese or hummus instead? If you like to make a beef chilli, try a vegetable one instead. It sounds simple but how many of us actually do it?
Paul McCartney is the main spokesperson for Meat-Free Mondays: “Having one designated meat-free day a week is a meaningful change that everyone can make, that goes to the heart of several important political environmental and ethical issues at once”. Other well-known supporters of the Meat-Free Monday campaign include Sir Richard Branson, Joanna Lumley, Kelly Osbourne, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lucas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ricky Gervais as well as foodies Skye Gyngell, Giorgio Locatelli and Yotam Ottolenghi. They all choose to eat vegetarian food at least for one day a week.
CAN I STICK TO IT?
At a less lofty level, I gave it a try. This Monday we had cereals for breakfast, falafels and salad for lunch, and vegetable chilli in the evening. My youngest had her chilli with pasta and a little extra tomato sauce to calm it down. It was all very easy and affordable.
I spoke to Mary Barton, a member of the Herts Vegan and Vegetarian group. Mary explained that she supports the campaign because if everybody chose not to eat meat for one day a week, the lives of thousands of animals would be saved. At the moment the UK consume almost 1 billion animals each year, with many living in poor conditions. There are environmental benefits to eating less meat too, and those who eat a vegetarian diet tend to be healthier. It’s also cheaper to eat less meat. One day a week – come on, how difficult can that be?
For more information: meatfreemondays.com and for the local group: firstname.lastname@example.org.
VEGETARIAN COOKERY COURSES
If you need some inspiration for interesting vegetarian food, local writer and cookery teacher Roselyne Masselin can give you some ideas. Based in St Albans, Roselyne teaches children and adults to cook delicious vegetarian food in schools and at her home. Roselyne explained that people love the social side of cooking together and learning new ideas.
As you can tell from the name, Roselyne is French and has also trained in the UK. She has taught chefs at Buckingham Palace, who wanted to get new ideas for banquets, for staff meals, and for the Queen. Courses this Autumn include Autumnal Dinner Party, Dairy-free Cookery, and Half Term Children’s Cookery. Visit lacuisineimaginaire.co.uk for more details.
Summer fruit charlotte
450 g Greek yoghurt
75 g plus 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
450 g fresh or frozen mixture of raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants
450 ml apple juice
36 sponge fingers
1. Mix together the Greek yoghurt and 2 tbsp sugar.
2. Place the fruit and 75g sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes on a low heat, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
3. Dip each sponge finger in the apple juice for 2 seconds, then line the base and sides of a 1.75 litre baking tin. Add another layer on the bottom.
4. Spoon in a third of the fruit. Spoon over a third of the yoghurt.
5. Add a layer of fingers, then a layer of fruit, and yoghurt. Repeat until full, finishing with a top layer of fingers.
6. Leave in the fridge overnight, then turn out when ready to serve.
PHOTO CREDIT: Leo Cinicolo