After the recent UN report published, advising that we adopt vegan and vegetarian diets to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change, it seems like us meat eaters need to reconsider our lifestyles.
A balanced vegan lifestyle can be tricky at university, but even a few vegetarian dinners a week is not only manageable but good for our health and the planet.
I have compiled a list of affordable, filling and delicious vegetarian dinners that you can enjoy – and feel good about doing your bit to save the planet. A lot of these can be vegan too, showing that it isn’t always a difficult and expensive diet to follow!
Naan/Pita Bread Pizza
You can buy pre-made naan bread for £1 from Tesco, then simply spread tomato puree on it, and top it with whatever you have in the fridge – spinach, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, (vegan) cheese etc. It’s really quick, really simple and so easy to make veggie or vegan
Make a simple tomato sauce with tinned tomatoes, mixed herbs and garlic, and layer it between slices of grilled (or oven cooked) aubergine. Top with mozzarella or a vegan cheese and bake in the oven. If you would like a more specific recipe, The Guardian has a good one worth trying
Slow cooker lentil chilli
Throw a tin of lentils, chopped tomatoes, some stock and whatever veggies you like (e.g. onions, garlic, peppers, mushroom, carrot, aubergine, butternut squash) into a slow cooker with some cumin, chilli powder and paprika, then cook on low until everything is soft and flavourful. This dish is really handy because you can serve it with so many different things – rice, nachos, jacket potatos, in wraps
These are so quick and, like a lot of the recipes on here, you can add to them whatever you have in your cupboard or fridge. Cook the noodles (either egg, rice or even packet ramen – just don’t add the seasoning mix) then in a wok stirfry chickpeas in soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Then add the noodles to the wok with any vegetables you have (peas, peppers, courgette all work well) and stir through the peanut butter – once the peanut butter has melted, it is ready. You can add chilli at the chickpea stage if you like a little heat
This is so versatile and simple to make. Just chuck chopped vegetables (I like to use courgette, aubergine, pepper, onion, garlic but you can use whatever veggies you like) into a pan or slow cooker with chopped tomatoes and stock, add some mixed herbs, salt and pepper, and let it cook down until the liquid has reduced slightly and the vegetables are soft. You can use the ratatouille as the main sauce for a lasagne, eat it with crusty bread or use it as a pasta sauce
Even if you don’t particularly like cooking, there are meat free alternatives out there that are easy to use like the Linda McCartney sausages (which can be expensive but are often on sale in Iceland and are on sale in Tesco right now) which you can eat with mash, or in a toad in the hole. Or you can buy the Tesco meat free nuggets if you fancy some quick comfort food. Frozen veggie burgers are also easy to keep in and then all you need to buy is a bread roll.
We don’t all immediately have to become vegan, but I think as this report shows us, it is important for us to reduce our meat consumption and it isn’t too difficult to do.