A Christ­mas din­ner with less meat

What could fea­ture on a Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble that doesn’t in­volve meat? Erin Reilly re­ports.

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Backyard Banter -

Christ­mas din­ner in my fam­ily gen­er­ally re­volves around ham, chicken, turkey, those cute lit­tle sausages wrapped in ba­con, duck­fat roast pota­toes and maybe some let­tuce to bal­ance it out a bit, fol­lowed by a healthy serv­ing of Chrissy pud, pav and Un­cle Phil’s so-drunken-it’s-vir­tu­ally-co­matose tri­fle, with a chaser of Christ­mas cake (and the en­tire choco­laty con­tents of my stock­ing).

But de­spite the av­er­age Kiwi’s diet cen­tring on meat, could it be pos­si­ble to put on a (gasp) veg­e­tar­ian Christ­mas? Be­cause Christ­mas din­ner is less about what’s served up and more about who it’s eaten with, right? The award-win­ning team at Auck­land restau­rant The Tast­ing Shed thinks so (and they con­sis­tently fea­ture in the Metro Top 50 Restau­rants, so they know what they’re talk­ing about).

‘‘Go­ing meat-free, even for just a cou­ple of meals a week, has health ben­e­fits like re­duc­ing can­cer risk and heart disease, fight­ing obe­sity and help­ing you live longer,’’ says The Tast­ing Shed owner Jo Raj. ‘‘And not only does it help you, it helps the planet. Meat con­sump­tion around the world has nearly dou­bled since the 1900s, and will need to dou­ble again to sus­tain the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion by 2050. Farm­ing as­so­ci­ated with meat pro­duc­tion gen­er­ates nearly one­fifth of man-made green­house gas emis­sions which is more than trans­port. The wa­ter needed to pro­duce half a kilo of beef is al­most 10,000 litres, whereas you can get al­most 15kg of plant food from the same amount of wa­ter.

‘‘Since Christ­mas falls on a Mon­day this year, why not join the grow­ing world­wide move­ment of ‘Meat­less Mon­days’ and go with­out the clas­sic ham or turkey? Mak­ing small changes cre­ates big re­sults if ev­ery­one took the same ap­proach to their well­ness. It never hurts to try some­thing dif­fer­ent, and you’ll be do­ing your­self and the planet a favour. What a great Christ­mas present to be proud of!’’

Aside from sav­ing the planet, there’s also the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit: more veg­eta­bles equals fewer un­wanted Christ­mas kilo­grams. Plus, ex­per­i­ment­ing in the kitchen and sim­ply ‘‘giv­ing it a go’’ has got to count for some­thing, right? And be­sides, if you’re re­ally that de­voted to meat, there’s al­ways the Box­ing Day bar­bie ...

So what could fea­ture on a Christ­mas din­ner ta­ble that doesn’t in­volve meat? The world is prac­ti­cally your oys­ter (or cour­gette, as the case may be). A scrummy mush­room risotto and roast pump­kin pie paired with cheesy cau­li­flower bake and gar­lic but­ter pota­toes (an in­ven­tive take on the tra­di­tional roast ‘tatie), with a side of ev­ery­one’s favourite hon­eyed car­rots, broc­col­ini, and al­mond and but­ter green beans is a de­li­cious place to start.

Stuck for veg­e­tar­ian in­spi­ra­tion, in dire need of an ar­ti­choke, or have so much as­para­gus it’s ‘‘com­ing out your ears’’? Ask for ad­vice, source an elu­sive in­gre­di­ent or of­fer up your ex­cess veges ahead of Christ­mas Day on Neigh­bourly.

123RF

Christ­mas din­ner is less about what’s served up and more about who it’s eaten with, right?

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