Is veganism just a missed steak?

Friday 26 May 2017
  • Soba noodles with roast mushrooms

When your local pizza joint starts offering dairy-free cheese, you know the vegan trend is here to stay.

Nowadays, even fast food joints are becoming nutrition savvy, offering healthier alternatives to traditionally unhealthy foods (zucchini fries, anyone?). The latest craze causing a stir is veganism, led by the humble hippie shunning all animal products (including meat, dairy, eggs and even honey) in the name of animal rights. Veganism has attracted a reputation that it’s healthier than an omnivore diet, despite the misconception that animal meat is our best source of protein.

So what are the facts?

Animal proteins are what’s called complete proteins, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body needs to function effectively, whereas not all plant proteins can claim the same label. Animal protein sources are also usually higher in certain nutrients, like vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 and zinc, however red meat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to its high levels of saturated fats – something that is never a risk when consuming plant proteins.

But the truth is, you can live a healthy life with a combination of both plant AND meat-based protein. A study in the Journal of American Medical Association analysed these two diets in over 100,000 participants over 32 years, and found that people who switched 3% of their daily calories from red meat to plant proteins seemed to weigh less, and eat less foods high in saturated fats, meaning overall they were healthier.

The bottom line? Choose fresh, unprocessed and colourful food to feed your body. Get your two and five serves of fruit and vegetables, and listen to your body to eat when you’re hungry. It also doesn’t hurt to swap out heavy-meat meals for a plant-based option each week. Not only will it help to slim your waistline, but it’ll also help your hip pocket!

We’re embracing all things meat-free with our top three protein-packed recipes sure to have you making ve-gains without having to brave tofu.

Greek chickpeas on toast

Brekky Chickpeas on toast

Be a cool bean with this quick and easy toast topper. Each portion contains one third of an adult’s daily recommended protein intake, and can be meal prepped ahead of time.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small shallots, finely diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (or cumin)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½-1 tsp sugar, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 400g tin of peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 4-6 slices of crusty bread, toasted
  • fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
  • pitted Kalamata olives, to garnish (optional)

How to make

  1. Heat up olive oil in a medium pan.
  2. Add shallots and fry gently, stirring frequently, until almost translucent. Add garlic and fry until shallots are completely translucent and garlic is softened.
  3. Add all the spices to the pan. Mix them into the onion and garlic mixture and fry off gently for 1-2 minutes, stirring the whole time.
  4. Squash tinned tomatoes, or chop them roughly, before adding to the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Simmer on low-medium heat until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Mix in cooked chickpeas and let them warm through in the sauce. Season with salt, sugar and black pepper.
  6. Serve on toasted bread with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a few black olives.

Serves 2.

Recipe courtesy of Lazy Cat Kitchen.

Roasted teriyaki mushrooms & broccolini with soba noodles

Get your complete protein fix with soba noodles – a Japanese thin noodle made from buckwheat. You won’t even notice this dish is meat-free with this unique way to cook meaty mushrooms.

  • 500g button mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 package soba noodles
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ shallot, diced
  • 2 bunches broccolini, ends cut off and cut in half lengthwise
  • 5 stalks kale, stems removed and cut into shreds
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish

Mushroom glaze

  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger

Noodle sauce

  • ¼ cup tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated

How to make

  1. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 220°C and line a tray with baking paper.
  2. Whisk mushroom glaze ingredients in a large bowl. Once combined, add mushrooms and mix until all mushrooms are evenly coated.
  3. Pour the mushrooms onto the baking tray and place them in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and toss so they cook evenly, then roast for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Cook soba noodles to package directions. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and diced shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add broccolini, kale and season to taste, and cook until just tender (about 5 minutes).
  5. Whisk together the soba noodle sauce while vegetables and noodles are cooking.
  6. Add cooked noodles to the pan, add the sauce, and stir until combined.
  7. Place a portion of noodles and vegetables into bowls, and top with the roasted mushrooms. Garnish with sesame seeds, chilli and shallots.

Serves 4

Recipe courtesy of Sobremesa.

Cherry and almond brownies

Cherry & almond brownies

Don’t be thinkin’ vegans don’t know how to have fun. Try these decadent cherry and almond brownies, and you’re sure to sink into a sweet, sweet, food coma.

  • 80g dairy-free margarine, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 120g dark chocolate (dairy-free)
  • ½ tsp coffee granules
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 70g almond meal
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 70g glacé cherries (rinsed and halved)

How to make

  1. Heat oven to 170°C, fan-forced. Grease and line a 20cm square tin with baking paper. Combine the flaxseed with 4 tbsp water and set aside for at least 5 minutes.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate, coffee and margarine with 60ml water on a low heat. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Put the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder and ¼ tsp salt in a bowl and stir to remove any lumps. Using a hand whisk, mix the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture, and beat well until smooth and glossy, ensuring all the sugar is well dissolved.
  4. Stir in the flaxseed mixture and vanilla extract, the cherries and then the flour mixture. It will now be very thick. Stir until combined and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 35-45 mins until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean with moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the tin completely, then cut into squares.

Makes 12.

Recipe courtesy of Foodiful.

Ashley Hanger

Ashley is UQ Sport’s Content Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Partial to food of the deep fried variety, Ashley is a self-confessed social media addict with a knack for words. You’ll often find her with a cup of tea in hand, still in shock she made it through a HIIT class alive.