I am no vegetarian, in fact I am a carnivore, but this summer I have decided to support and follow Meat Free Monday, something easy to practise and helps reduce the environmental impact of the livestock industry on this planet we call home.
Sir Paul McCartney and his family launched Meat Free Monday in the UK as the livestock industry produces more greenhouses gases than the entire transportation sector put together. It is also very water- and land-intensive. A third of all cereal crops, and well over 90% of soya, goes into animal feed, not food for humans. Eating less meat will free up a lot of agricultural land which can revert to growing trees and other vegetation, which, in turn, will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It’s amazingly easy to take one day in your week, Monday or any other day, and not eat meat. When you think about it, there are so many great alternatives, for instance, in Italian cooking, so many of the dishes are vegetarian already and Thai and Chinese cuisine are the same. All it means is that you have to think a bit about what you’ll eat that day but, in actual fact, far from being a chore, it’s a fun challenge.
Here I am sharing with you one of the simplest yet most popular vegetarian dish that you can try at home, using fresh ingredients straight from farm to table.
Egyptian Vegetable Dip
1 Red bell pepper
1 Onion (optional – quartered)
1 Zucchini (small)
3 Garlic cloves
3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
60g Cream cheese
10g Tomato paste
1g Thyme (leaves only)
3g Parsley leaves (minced)
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Trim all the vegetables and cut the bell peppers into chunks, and the zucchini into strips
2. Put the bell pepper, onion and zucchini into a baking pan and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper
3. Roast at 475F (246C), stirring a few times until well cooked with charred spots
4. Blend with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate to allow the flavours to blend
I love this dip. Its smoky, rich flavour of the roasted bell pepper and zucchini goes well with wedges of pita bread or with raw vegetables. Try using it as a sandwich spread or rolled up in wraps as well. It is best to prepare the night before use, but it does not take long to prepare at all.
It is a great reason to visit your local farmers’ market, talk to the vendors about local fresh produce, and experiment with some amazing vegetarian dishes. Love your community, your local market and the love you share with your friends and family for this planet.
Some photos courtesy of Meat Free Monday