A Christmas dinner with less meat
What could feature on a Christmas dinner table that doesn’t involve meat? Erin Reilly reports.
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.
Christmas dinner is less about what’s served up and more about who it’s eaten with, right?