“Having been told that all I had to do was sit at a tree, enjoy the sun, and watch for ants crawling on my face, I ended up losing all feeling in my right leg and back of my neck and spent three days in hospital. Luckily I didn’t feel too well before, so I was able to slowly lose consciousness and ignore them. Unfortunately, I learned that just under half my body weight was lost from my limbs, the legs included. It will have to be a while before I use my right leg again.” This is how Brian Tupper describes his experience as a plant-based meat snack.
Tupper has plenty of company: participants of the Guardian’s Meatless Monday Club have told us that while it may cost more and take time to adapt to, veganism is the healthiest way they know to live.
For all you omnivores, veganism is an ethical choice, not a diet: you’re far more likely to end up eating meat for free in developing countries. If you love burgers, chocolate and pie, you might as well go vegan.
But meat is not just about me: plant-based meat is about you and all the animals you eat.
You might find that giving up your steak isn’t such a huge leap, but it’s so easy to switch to something else. And that’s what the Plant-Based Meat Group is doing.
The London-based Meatfree Mondays Group is an initiative aimed at preparing and teaching participants the basics of eating sustainably and ethically, helping them to judge what kind of meat they’d like to consume and offering some practical advice.
There are many ethical and environmental benefits, not to mention health benefits, when you choose not to eat meat, but the Meatless Mondays Group has realised that it is not enough to provide nutritional guidance alone. Food writer Dr Blair Jarvis claims that “you need to get your ethical and environmental values wrapped up in your lifestyle choices”.
The Plant-Based Meat Group offers a way to do just that: according to Jarvis, “Its aim is to make plant-based meat as luxurious as red meat, and ethical as it is good for you.”
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Leena Ratra-Davendra is a founding member of the Plant-Based Meat Group and is passionate about spreading the word: “The members that go to our camps are vegetarians. But it’s designed for anyone to attend. The aim is for Plant-Based Meat to be as fun as the old days of barbecue – the night’s entertainment.
“We want Plant-Based Meat to be something that the average Briton could actually cook with and eat, and not have to consult their chef about. But more than that, we want it to be part of a bigger agenda around replacing food that comes from animals with food that comes from plants. That’s what we call ‘Incorporate-V’ – [where] instead of eating it from animals, we create it from plants.”
What’s more, Plant-Based Meat provides low-carbon stoneware for high-temperature vegetable cookery, such as spicing vegetable and lentil stew. With this support, your cooking skills can be high-tech and sustainable. “Spices can be high in flavour and low in carbon footprint,” said Ratra-Davendra. “At the same time, they can be extremely energy efficient, making your meals greener and more affordable than meat.”
So join the Meatless Mondays club and help plant the plot that says: “I have done it, now be good to you.”
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