I don’t want Australians feeling guilty every time they eat. Having to worry about potential harm they may be doing. But as I found out when making For the Love of Meat our decisions do matter. And what matters when we eat meat is being more mindful. It’s not the rushed, normal, budget-constrained decisions we make that will help make positive change. It’s recognising when there is the chance to make a better decision, and then acting on that possibility. And having meat-mindful recipes at hand is a big part of that.
What can you do to become a conscious carnivore? (Actually, a conscious omnivore, because caring about the meat you eat means caring about eating a whole lot of other things on the plate besides the meat.)
Whether you’ve chosen to care more about the meat you eat because you’re concerned about the impacts on the environment, the impacts on your health, or the impacts on the living animal, some guidelines are the same. Try to buy better meat, and by that I mean meat with more flavour, as well as meat that has a better ethical standard.
Try to make your meat go further, which is what these recipes are all about – not sacrificing flavour just because you want to put less pressure on your body, on the world, on the animals reared in your name.
And sometimes, just don’t eat meat. Plain and simple. Have meals that don’t have any meat, and you can still easily meet your dietary needs, and save up your meat eating for a bigger meat fix less often, if that is the kind of meat eating you relish.
Treat meat like an indulgence. It does cost the earth more. It does involve taking the life of a sentient being. But it is an amazingly dense, high-quality protein, which tastes terrific. Honour the animal, and the meat that it provides. Respect the farmer and the land that produced it. And don’t buy into industry hype that never, ever countenances the fact that we could eat less meat and still live fulfilled, happy, healthy lives filled with glorious meals. We eat more meat than any other nation in the world, and something, or someone, pays the price for that.
To this end, we need help in the kitchen. I grew up with meat and three veg (not two veg, Mum was ahead of her time…!). I know how hard it can be to go from the mind set of grilling, frying, or roasting a large piece of meat, and bunging some spuds and carrots on the side, to actually making a delicious meal where meal isn’t the star on the plate.
I’m sharing these 21 recipes below to help you discover ways to have truly delicious meals that reflect positive change. As well as some meat-free meals, this is a starting point in eating more of the animal; or making meat go further, without sacrificing flavour.
We eat a lot of meat in Australia – more than most other nations on earth. But do we really know what meat we are eating, and where it’s come from? Find out more with Matthew Evans in For The Love of Meat, Thursdays 7.30pm on SBS and also on SBS On Demand.
This minced chicken cooked in a sweet-salty sauce with vegetables and spring onions is a quick midweek meal.
"If you’re going to roast a chicken, try to get at least three meals out of one chook. Serve lots of vegetables with the roast so you’ll have leftover meat to make this salad, and use the bones to make a stock." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake that’s great for using small amounts of leftover meat. Pork belly is popular, but if you want to adopt a nose-to-tail approach to eating, let’s start thinking about using other bits, like pork trotters.
This is a version of the classic spicy Beijing noodles, but I’ve reduced the pork and increased the vegetables.
"This soup uses a small amount of bacon for flavour, so make sure you use a well-made bacon with a good smoky flavour from a well-raised pig. I reckon your local farmers’ market is the best place to source good bacon." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
You can make a smaller amount of steak go much further if you combine it with more substantial vegetables.
This is a great example of nose-to-tail eating. Serve these kebabs with a hefty garden salad made with baby carrots, cucumbers, radish and lots of green leaves."
"Beef tongue is simple to prepare and has a flavour and texture just like steak. The trick to this dish, a classic in Mexico, is to make sure you get a nice golden crust when frying the slices." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
Freekeh is a green wheat berry with a delicious nutty flavour.
The cheese, nuts and eggs in this tart contain all the protein you need for a great meat-free option. if you can't find spring garlic, small leeks or regular garlic can be used instead.
"Socca is a flatbread made from chickpea flour. It is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven, giving it a charred and smoky flavour. You can almost recreate the effect under the grill. Don’t be afraid to let the edges get nice and dark for added flavour. If you wish, you can make the batter a day ahead and keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to cook." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
"Panch phoran is a Bengali five-spice mix. You can buy it in some spice shops, but it’s easy enough to make your own, and it’s so addictive, I’ve given you a recipe for more than you’ll need for this recipe but it will keep well in an airtight container for up to 3 months. It’s delicious in dahl, on fried cauliflower, fish – anything really – but it’s particularly good with potatoes." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
The hero of this dish is the dahl, made with creamy coconut milk and fresh tomato. The fish plays a supporting role, which makes for an excellent light-on-meat option. You could even ditch the fish altogether.
Keema is a dish from the sub-continent. I’ve added more vegetables to the mix here, which makes for a great pastie filling.
"I don’t mind stirring risotto after work – it’s a good way to unwind. This recipe is a favourite when the new season peas and asparagus are about. Just get someone else to pod the peas..." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
"With regard to animal welfare and the environment, kangaroo is one of the best meat options going." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
"French for ‘bohemian’, this dish from Avignon is cooked and served in a cast-iron skillet. Place it in the centre of the table and serve with salad and crusty bread." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat