FA Student Foodie: a ​flexitarian feast for one

By Samuel Turner |

“Roasted harissa aubergine with Moroccan couscous” | Samuel Turner

The August United Nations report voiced the detrimental effects that livestock rearing is having on the planet, yet in a society where meat is so essential to many, it still proves difficult to ensure good quality, high welfare produce is readily available or affordable to all. In this instance, reducing the amount of meat and other animal products within our diets may be the answer to live not only more sustainably for the environment, but also more nutritionally and adventurously for ourselves.

If you are not yet aware of sustainability week, running from Sunday 3rd – Friday 8th November, it’s five days in which we should explore less environmentally-impacting alternatives for much of what we take as standard in our day to day lives. For the FA Student Foodie – that means our meals! This article will discuss the flexitarian diet, and explore the reasons why cutting the amount of meat in your grub can help you to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle, not to mention how to do it with a flexitarian recipe for a cheeky midweek meal. 

Reports suggest that greenhouse emissions from livestock account for 14.5% of anthropogenic (human-caused) carbon emission, which is attributed to be the cause of anthropogenic climate change. Livestock rearing is also a large cause of deforestation and the negative environmental impacts of it, including species extinction and wildfires. This is allowed to happen because the majority of deforestation is driven by a demand for cleared land, required as grazing space to rear meat-livestock. In other words, the meat-eater’s diet is contributing to the planet’s ill-health and with population levels rising, the demand for meat and other animal products will also continue to increase. These current statistics will only worsen if no action is taken to ensure our demand for meat and animal products as a society becomes more sustainable…*Introducing* the UN-suggested flexitarian diet.

A flexitarian diet, unlike a vegetarian or vegan diet that cut-out meat and/or all animal products completely respectively, instead encourages a shift towards a more plant-based diet without eliminating meat or animal products all together

I should declare at this point that I follow a flexitarian diet, well unknowingly, until I stumbled upon the word whilst writing this recipe up. Having lived on a smallholding farm for almost half my life, and currently a geography student, I have developed a deep appreciation and passion for food in terms of its impact on culture and the environment, as well as its taste of course! I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, probably something that is inevitable due to the fact my family has a history of butchery. I am very conscious of where my food comes from, especially ensuring that the meat I buy is of high welfare. The flexitarian diet is perfect for me, as I appreciate good meat too much to give it up (like many) and I think because of this a societal shift to flexitarianism is realistic as a solution to globally help reduce the detrimental effects of meat and animal product consumption, as it considers that it’s not always practical or culturally considerate to cut out meat entirely.

If you need some inspiration, this is my recipe for roasted harissa aubergine with Moroccan couscous for one, which I believe is a great dish to start reducing your meat and animal product intake. Though this is a fancy recipe, it is still an affordable treat for those on a student budget, especially if food is not wasted and the ingredients are sourced sensibly. 

“an affordable treat for those on a student budget” | Samuel Turner

Ingredients 

1 Aubergine 

5 teaspoons of harissa  

1 small carrot 

Half a red onion 

50 grams raisins  

A bunch of coriander 

50 grams of couscous

Olive oil

65ml of water

A squeeze of lemon juice 

Optional garnishes include:

Adding a handful of pumpkin seeds (for a bit of a crunch and extra protein.) How about pomegranatete seeds or a drizzle of honey for a burst of sweetness? Try chopping up some chilli peppers for a kick or just a few salad leaves to make it go that little bit further.

Method

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius.

Cut the Aubergine lengthways in half, drizzle with olive oil, and spread two teaspoons of harissa on to each half.

Place on a baking tray in the oven for 30 minutes, or until they are soft on the inside and slightly blackened on the outside.

Meanwhile, slice the red onion into thin strips, cut up the carrots into 2-inch strips, and roughly chop the coriander.

After the aubergines have been in for 15 minutes splash with a sprinkle of water and place back in the oven for the rest of the time. 

10 minutes before the aubergines have to come out of the oven. Place the couscous in a pot, pour the boiling water over and place a lid on top.

After 3 minutes or so place the onion, carrots, raisins, and a teaspoon of harissa in with the couscous, and then place the lid back on.

Wait another 2 minutes and the couscous should be light and fluffy, stir in the chopped-up coriander and add a splash of lemon juice. (If still dry pour a small amount of boiling water in and of too wet place on the hob until the excess water is absorbed.)

Serve up the couscous on a plate or a wide bowl, and place the roasted aubergines on top. Add any of the optional garnishes to taste and enjoy!


“Enjoy!” | Samuel Turner

Being environmentally sustainable can be not only as easy and tasty as a Friday night fry-up, but also a lot more student-budget friendly, and of course nutritious. Hopefully, I have inspired you to consider the flexitarian diet as an alternative to going full-on veggie or vegan, but still ultimately helping to protect the planet’s resources that are today so endangered.

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