By Claudette D'Cruz
It sometimes feels that a different food becomes the health ‘enemy’ each week in the hyperbolic world of the media. We’ve been told chocolate is bad – then good – for us, and advised to drink wine every night, and then not at all! How confusing! The latest food to fall foul is meat.
We aren’t health experts nor nutritionists, and we certainly aren’t suggesting you should turn into a vegetarian, but by reading beyond the headlines (‘meat is bad’), it seems to us that there are some good reasons to try skip meat once in a while.
Compelling evidence shows that it’s good for our health to focus our diets more on plants than flesh due to the high levels of fat in the latter. There can also be no doubt that eating less meat is better for the Earth, as resources dwindle and populations rise. Could you go meat-free once a week for the sake of your body and the planet’s wellbeing?
“I can’t just eat salad!” we hear you cry. Fear not – curry is your salvation!
Traditionally, Indian curries rarely contained meat at all, with meat considered an expensive luxury and reserved for special occasions only. Even today, meals tend to revolve around vegetables, rice and roti, with almost half the Indian population eating a fully vegetarian diet. Do you think they miss out on flavour or taste satisfaction? No way! It’s not the meat that makes curry delicious!
Perhaps your favourite curry is the Rogan Josh, traditionally chock full of tender lamb. “I can’t have a Rogan Josh without my lamb!” you might worry. Don’t despair; you can simply switch the meat for an alternative (kidney beans are good) and still enjoy those gorgeous warming flavours of your favourite meal.
Many of the No Worries Curries spice blends offer clever vegetarian ‘swap-ins’ which won’t impair the great flavours. Another fine and delicious example is the Thai Mussaman, which can be made with tofu, pineapple and lots of vegetables for a wholesome, satisfying, and vegetarian, meal.
Going meat-free becomes easier when you have a good idea of what the alternatives are – you can try them all and find which you like best! It is important to always try and replace the meat with a protein source of some kind, as protein is necessary for our bodies for growth and repair. Don’t let going meat-free impact your health negatively!
So what contains protein apart from meat and would suit being added to a curry? Beans of any kind – pinto, red kidney, butter, chickpeas – work well because of their bulk, and soy-based foods such as tofu and tempeh offer a satisfying dash of protein and interesting texture.
Eggs are a good source of protein, although adding a boiled egg to a curry is a bold move and doesn’t suit everyone! You could also be adventurous and seek out Indian cheese (paneer), which has long been used in Indian cooking. The milky flavour of paneer is a great compliment to strong and spicy flavours. You could even make your own at home – all you need is milk, lemon juice, vinegar and salt!
Those without the time to be creative can keep it really simple by just adding more vegetables instead of meat to a curry. Top up the protein level of the meal by stirring yoghurt through the final creation, and add a sprinkling of nuts (flaked almonds or cashews are both winners) before serving. Both yoghurt and nuts are great sources of protein, not to mention serving to enhance the flavour and texture of your dinner.
We bet you never realised how easy it was to make curry night a meat-free one. Simply look to India for inspiration and start discovering how tasty the world can be without meat! Not only will you have a delicious dinner, you can also glow in knowing your body and the planet will thank you for it. Win win!