White Meat Myths | Viva!

White Meat Myths

white meat myths

Origins of the Protein Gap

In the early 20th century came the belief that we should all eat more protein – in fact, good health depended on generous amounts of the stuff and nothing provided it better than meat.chick

It was reckoned that hunger and child malnutrition in the developing world was caused by protein deficiency due to a lack of meat. This myth reached epic proportions in the 1960s. A UN report recognised there was worldwide protein deficiency and called for a “global strategy to avert the impending protein crisis”. International aid focused on the so-called ‘protein gap’ and the USA subsidised dried milk powder to provide protein for the world’s poor.

Next came a report on diet and heart disease in 1976 by the Royal College of Physicians which encouraged people to eat white meat rather than red meat on the grounds that it contained less saturated fat and was therefore less damaging to health.

Speed up history to the present day and the shift in nutritional knowledge is astounding. We now know that the average Brit gets far too much protein – it makes up 15 per cent of the daily calorie intake when the maximum needed, according to leading health bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), is only eight per cent.

Most foods can provide us with this eight per cent, the exceptions being fruits (only about five per cent of their energy comes from protein) and most sweets and junk foods. The WHO’s estimate includes a large safety margin so most people’s real needs are even lower than eight per cent.

In truth, the protein gap had disappeared ‘at the stroke of a pen’ in 1969 when researchers concluded that almost all staple foods contain enough protein for our needs.

Good nutritionists know that by not eating meat – or dairy, for that matter – you can obtain plenty of protein, including all the amino acids you need. Get enough calories and you get enough protein!



Protein Quality

Protein plays an important role in the body, forming the basis of muscles, hair, nails and collagen – the connective tissue that holds the body together. It also plays a part in regulating the body, causing heart muscle to contract and the body to digest food and is what makes DNA.

To make protein, plants combine sugars, which they make from sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, with nitrogen from the air or soil. The end products are protein building blocks called amino acids (‘amino’ simply means nitrogencontaining). There are 20 or so different amino acids in the body, of which it can make about 11 solely from carbohydrate, fat and nitrogen.

About nine of these amino acids are called ‘essential amino acids’ and these must come from the diet as the body can’t make them. Animal and soya products are sometimes called ‘complete’ proteins as they contain plenty of all of the essential amino acids. Many other plant proteins have relatively low quantities of one or more of the essential amino acids – the socalled ‘limiting’ amino acid. Pulses such as peas, beans and lentils are a major exception to this general rule and contain good amounts of high-quality protein. Nuts and seeds are rich protein sources, too.

almost all staple foods contain enough protein for our needs

There is a persistent myth that vegetarians need to be well educated in order to know which protein foods to choose to make up for the amino acid deficiencies that one food or the other may contain. Research doesn’t support this view and is clear that both vegetarians and omnivores get enough protein, including plenty of the amino acids they need, as long as they are getting enough calories. In fact, almost all foods contain protein.

It’s relatively easy to eat enough protein if you’re a vegetarian and especially so if you choose foods from two or more of these three groups in a given day: wholegrains; pulses; nuts and seeds.

Says Dr Linda Bacon, nutrition lecturer at City College of San Francisco: “Plant products will typically do a better job of meeting your protein needs than animal products, both because they are less concentrated sources of protein, making protein over-consumption less likely, and because they are more likely to be bundled with other great nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and healthy fats.”



Protein Over-consumption– the Hazards

Ironically, excess protein is one of today’s big concerns, being linked to kidney disease, osteoporosis, cancers, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Excesses are usually a result of eating too many animal products. Even lean-looking white meats are associated with large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol – artery-clogging substances that are a main cause of heart disease, kidney failure and stroke as well as many cancers.

man eatting chickenPutting these hidden nasties aside, there is strong evidence to suggest that it is excess protein per se which plays a part in all these diseases. There is a compelling case that animal protein alone – ignoring all the other damaging substances that come with it – increases the risk for cancer, clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), crumbly bones (osteoporosis) and type 2 diabetes. Powerful evidence came from the China Study, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever undertaken to examine the links between diet and disease in people. Big differences in disease rates were seen when the amount of animal-based foods people ate were compared with plant foods.

The average Westerner gets well in excess of their protein needs. British men eat on average 88.2 grams a day, and women 63.7 grams – both getting around double (15 per cent) the WHO’s recommendation of eight per cent of calorie intake from protein. The WHO suggests that protein deficiency is highly improbable in industrialised countries.

Worryingly, an average portion of chicken or turkey meat weighing 100g (3.5oz) provides roughly half a woman’s daily protein requirement and almost half a man’s!



White Meat – the Low-Fat Choice?

White meat is seen as, and often promoted by producers as being, a low-fat, healthy food. It isn’t even close to being so. Chicken and all meats are muscles, which are made of protein and fat.

Average raw chicken meat is 17.5 per cent fat, rising to 38.1 per cent when roasted. Raw turkey is 13.7 per cent fat in terms of calories. Nearly half of the calories in roast duck come from fat – and that’s only when the skin and excess fat are discarded. Without that, 80 per cent of calories come from fat! Roast goose is not far behind at 63 per cent of calories. This compares with one per cent fat in a baked potato and four per cent in baked beans.


In fact, meat and meat products, including chicken and turkey in all their guises, are the leading source of fat in our diet, including the equally unhealthy trans fats. Not only are we eating meat in unprecedented amounts (see Figure 1) but modern farming methods have ensured that its fat content has doubled.

Professor Michael Crawford of London Metropolitan University found that chicken contains as much fat, gram for gram, as a Big Mac. He analysed chicken thigh meat from several supermarkets – even organic suppliers – and found they contain more than twice as much fat as they did back in 1940, a third more calories and a third less protein. Someone eating a 100 gram portion of chicken would get 207 calories from fat and only 64 from protein – and this wasn’t the breadcrumbed type which is even higher in fat.

A medium-sized chicken contains almost a pint of fat

Even organic chickens didn’t do much better – 154 kilocalories from fat and 74 from protein. This is probably because, despite having more space than factory-farmed chickens, organic birds are on the same regime of high-energy feed, little exercise and being bred for rapid weight gain.

Says Professor Crawford: “This focus on rapid growth has changed the lipid [fat] composition of the chicken meat itself, and you cannot escape that – even by removing the skin and scraping away the subcutaneous fat stuck to the meat.”

The team also found that a medium-sized chicken contains almost a pint of fat!

Researchers at the American Cancer Society followed more than 75,000 people for a decade to find out what is was that caused their weight loss and weight gain. High meat consumption was the food most responsible for their putting on weight. Both men and women who had more than a single serving of meat a day showed a 50 per cent increase in ‘abdominal obesity’ – they put on the pounds around their middles.

From the 1980s onwards, it became common for butchers and processors to trim from meat any visible fat as part of the demand for leaner meat. It didn’t have much effect as people’s fat intake from meat has dropped by a mere five per cent since 1983!



White Meat – a Superfood?

Amazingly, turkey is listed as a superfood in Dr Steven Pratt’s book, Superfoods: 14 Foods That Will Change Your Life. Turkey makes the top 14, along with tomatoes, broccoli, beans, blueberries, tea, oats, pumpkin, yoghurt, walnuts, spinach, salmon, soya and oranges.

Dr Pratt favours turkey because it is the ‘leanest meat source of protein’. However, this position has more qualifications than a university. Readers are advised to eat skinless breast meat only (no more than three to four servings a week), don’t buy self-basting birds as they may contain damaging ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ and only eat ground turkey (minced) that’s labelled 99 per cent fat free!turkey

Even those who have the discipline to stick to the 3-4 ounce portion limit – about the size of a pack of cards – will be ingesting 100 milligrams of cholesterol with each portion – the same as beef – along with a scattering of harmful trans fatty acids.

Cholesterol from white meat does just as good a job at clogging arteries and causing heart disease as any other cholesterol (see The Effect of White Meat on Cholesterol, page 11). The human body produces cholesterol on its own and never needs outside sources. All plant foods are cholesterol-free!

While metaphorically patting turkey protein on the back with one hand, Dr Pratt assassinates it with the other, cautioning against too much animal protein. Excess can lead to a loss of calcium and an increased risk of osteoporosis, kidney damage, raised blood cholesterol levels, heart disease and increased production of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) – which is thought to boost the growth of cancer cells (see Protein Over-consumption – the Hazards, page 6).

What’s enough? A meagre 45 to 55.5 grams a day and you don’t need to eat any meat or dairy to achieve it, there’s plenty in plant foods.

Despite these hazards, Dr Pratt’s support for white meat is based on it containing some vitamins and minerals such as niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, iron, selenium and zinc. But it certainly has no monopoly on them. Mixed nuts, cereal grains, yeast extracts, vegetables and fruits are all useful sources of these nutrients but without the potential for harmful side effects. It’s even been shown that B12 in fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals, is more easily absorbed than B12 in meat, poultry and fish – particularly for the elderly. This is why the National Academy of Sciences in the USA advises adults aged 50 and over to obtain most of their B12 from fortified foods. It’s pretty good advice for younger adults as well.

All plant foods are cholesterol-free

This begs the question: what is missing from white meat? It has no fibre, complex carbohydrates or vitamin C. Fibre cleanses the digestive tract, keeping bowels healthy and regular, slows the absorption of sugar and fat, carries away excess hormones from the blood and lowers cholesterol.

Complex carbohydrates, found only in plants, are relatively low in calories and boost metabolism. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and is involved in immunity, wound healing and the formation of collagen in skin, tendons and bones. When white meat takes the place of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and pulses you get less vitamins, less fibre, and unwanted dietary fat and cholesterol.



White Meat- Essential for Growing Children?

There is a persistent myth that meat is essential for growing children – perhaps more so than for adults. In reality, children of all ages can thrive on a lower concentration of protein in their diets than adults!


One of the main causes of death in children in developing countries is from something called protein-energy malnutrition. It usually develops in those who get too little protein and energy – and these deficiencies tend to go hand-in-hand. Diets that contain enough energy (calories) typically contain plenty of protein (see Origins of the Protein Gap, page 4).

The real problem is usually quantity rather than quality. Wartime studies in the UK found that orphanage children grew faster than the general population when they ate a bread-based diet with only a small fraction (14 per cent) of their protein coming from milk products. These children grew no faster when nearly half their protein was from milk! Bread provided the children with plenty of energy to support their growth, whilst meeting more than double their protein needs.



High-Protein Diets for Weight Loss

Protein is the most filling nutrient of all which is why highprotein diets such as Atkins came into being. But there’s no absolute proof that it’s protein per se that’s responsible for weight loss on these diets – monotony and boredom from the tight restrictions on what you can eat and ‘ketosis’ may play a part.

girleattingKetosis happens when the body is short of glucose, the fuel needed to power the breakdown of body fat. Lacking glucose, the liver releases acidic substances (ketones) into the blood, much as happens in type 2 diabetes. But studies have shown that ketosis is unrelated to weight loss. In other words, low-carb diets do not trigger weight loss any more effectively than low-fat, vegetarian diets do.

While a few studies show that high protein, lowcarbohydrate diets do produce some weight loss early on, the long-term health consequences can be very serious.

Most of these diets contain less than 10 per cent carbohydrates, 25 to 35 per cent protein and 55 to 65 per cent fat. Protein comes mostly from meat, meat products and dairy, which are high in unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol. As they contain so much more fat than protein, a better name would be ‘high-fat’ diets.

Over 400 people who followed one of these diets listed their health problems using an online registry.They included constipation, loss of energy, bad breath, difficulty concentrating, kidney and heart problems, including heart attack, bypass surgery, irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and raised cholesterol.

Of course, plants also contain protein but plants rich in vegetable protein are low in the harmful saturated fat that increases the risk of heart problems. Good protein sources include pulses such as baked beans, peas, lentils and soya products, grains, nuts and seeds.They have the added bonus of being rich in fibre and eating two to three servings of these foods each day is recommended.

A low-fat veggie diet is a successful aid to weight loss. Try the VVF’s V-Plan Diet – order from www.vvf.org.uk/shop or by calling 0117 970 5190 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm).




In 2007, the USA organisation, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, filed a lawsuit against seven high street restaurant chains over carcinogens in grilled chicken.

Called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), these hazardous chemicals are directly linked to cancer in humans. They arise during the cooking of many meats, including chicken, beef, pork and even fish. In January 2005, they were officially added to the USA federal government’s list of known carcinogens.

HCAs form when sugars, creatine – a chemical found mostly in muscle – and amino acids are heated during cooking. These are all naturally present in meats. Some of the highest concentrations are in grilled meat – especially chicken – which contains more than 10 times the amount in grilled beef. Frying can also produce large amounts of HCAs.

As creatine is found mostly in muscle tissue, grilled plant foods such as veggie burgers, veggie sausages or portabello mushrooms tend to contain either no HCAs or negligible levels.

mushroomsHCAs can bind directly to human DNA, causing mutation and initiating cancer. One common HCA, called PhIP, has been shown to damage DNA even at the low concentrations found in home cooking. Alarmingly, the pan scrapings often used for gravy contain up to 500 parts per billion of PhIP – hundreds of times higher than the concentration in meat!

According to Dr Michael Greger, GP, author and a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine: “There does not seem to be a way to cook meat to an internal temperature necessary to kill off [food poisoning] bacteria without producing at least some carcinogenic compounds. And even low doses have been shown to cause human DNA mutations which could lead to cancer.”



The Effect of White Meat on Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) called a sterol made by the liver and present in every cell in an animal’s body, including human animals. It is found only in foods of animal origin – white meat, fish, eggs, and every other meat and dairy product. Foods from plants – all types of fruits and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains, nuts and seeds – are cholesterol-free.

Our livers make all the cholesterol we need – approximately 1,000 milligrams per day – and it is used in the manufacture of hormones and cell membranes and in other parts of the body. It follows that we have no need for cholesterol in our diet at all.

Cholesterol can’t be avoided by choosing lean cuts of meat as it’s mainly found in the lean parts. Neither is white meat lower in cholesterol than red meat as chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef. One small, grilled, skinless chicken breast contains around 100 milligrams of cholesterol – an amount that can add roughly 0.13 mmol/L (or 5 mg/dL) to your cholesterol level!

Animal products also contain saturated fat which causes our livers to manufacture even more cholesterol. Unsaturated fats don’t have this effect.

Despite a welter of evidence that a vegetarian diet is the best way to avoid high cholesterol levels and the diseases which go with them, official advice, amazingly, is not to go vegetarian.

But to switch to a lower fat diet – avoiding fatty cuts of red meat, eating white meat and fish and ditching butter for margarine.

Dr Neal Barnard, president and founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, states that: “…chicken-and-fish diets are not low enough in fat or cholesterol to do what vegetarian diets can… The leanest beef is about 28 per cent fat as a percentage of calories. The leanest chicken is not much different, at about 23 per cent fat.

Fish vary but all have cholesterol and more fat than is found in typical beans, vegetables, grains, and fruits, virtually all of which are well under 10 per cent fat.

“So, while white-meat diets lower cholesterol levels by only about five per cent, meatless diets have three to four times more cholesterol-lowering power, allowing the arteries to the heart to reopen.”



The Acidifying Effects of White Meat

When certain foods are digested, acids are released into the blood. The body attempts to neutralise this acidity by drawing calcium from the bones. This calcium is then excreted in the urine (the calciuric response).

The sulphur in high-protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products is metabolised into sulphuric acid which can cause this acidifying process. Meat and eggs contain more sulphurcontaining amino acids than plant foods – up to five times more. As the sulphur content of the diet increases, so does the level of calcium in the urine. Research suggests that animal protein increases the risk of uric acid stones.

The calciuric response may also be a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis. The traditional Inuit (or Eskimo) diet is made up almost entirely of animal protein. Inuits have one of the highest calcium intakes in the world, hitting as much as 2,500 milligrams per day depending on whether they eat whole fish, including the bones, or not. They also have a high rate of osteoporosis; even higher than white Americans.


How much protein and its type can affect bone-mineral loss in post-menopausal women. The first real evidence came from Andrews University in the USA in a survey of 1,600 women, where meat eaters (omnivores) experienced almost double the bone loss of vegetarian women.

It’s estimated that people’s consumption of acid-producing protein has increased by 50 per cent over the past 40 years and this includes chicken and turkey which are both acidforming foods. Over time, high-protein diets – especially meat- and cheese-based diets – lead to a decrease in bone density.

colvegThe good news is that vegetarian diets based on protein from pulses, cereals and other plant foods produce much less acid than mixed meat and vegetable diets – even when the total protein content of the diets are the same. Plant-based diets often produce no unwanted acid or alkaline residues.

In her book, The Chemistry of Success, Dr Susan Lark links an acidic diet to a range of inflammatory conditions:

“As we age, our ability to maintain a slightly alkaline balance in our cells and tissues diminishes… Maintaining the cells and tissues of the body in their healthy, slightly alkaline state helps to prevent inflammation… Overacidity promotes the onset of painful and disabling inflammatory conditions as diverse as… rheumatoid arthritis and interstitial cystitis.”



Ingredients and Stockists

Praise Seitan!

Fake meats made from wheat gluten have been used in the Orient for hundreds of years at least, partly because the Buddhist tradition used meat substitutes to cater for vegetarian monks.

Gluten is a fairly pure, minimally processed food. It’s also a good source of protein, relatively low in fat and cholesterol-free. Seitan (pronounced ‘say-tan’) is another name for gluten and is available in jars from health stores, such as Yakso or Vegetalia brands, both organic. Vegetarian chicken and duck (gluten) are available in tins from Chinese or similar supermarkets at less than half the price, but aren’t organic. Companion and Mong Lee Shang are the most common brands. They may have a Chinese name but will also be labelled as ‘vegetarian mock chicken’ or ‘vegetarian duck’ or ‘gluten’. As you’ll see in the recipes which follow, gluten is an excellent white meat replacement in just about everything.

Chunky No-Chick

TVP (textured vegetable protein) is available in chunky pieces. It’s a good, very economical white meat substitute, particularly in curries and stews. TVP is also available in mince form. Both varieties can be found in large supermarkets and health stores. For best results, soak the chunks in very hot vegan stock until softened. Drain and use in the recipe as instructed. The stock can be re-used in soup or other dishes.

On the Curds

Tofu (or bean curd). The plain variety is a very pure food which is available from large supermarkets and health stores. Health stores increasingly sell other flavours, too. (Taifun brand is particularly good.) It’s often organic and is very good in stir-fries, salads and other dishes. The ready-made deep-fried pieces (eg Cauldron brand) have a slightly more chewy texture and are usually popular with ‘tofu virgins’! Plain tofu is bland but absorbs other flavours very well.


Thai Taste green or red curry paste is our current favourite. Not only does it taste very good, but it is also easily available in large branches of Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury, as well as delis and health stores. And of course, it’s suitable for vegans and vegetarians – unlike some Thai products, it doesn’t include fish sauce.


You may well have your own fantastic curry sauce recipe – however, for those busy nights, we’ve recommended Meridian sauces which are all vegan and readily available in free-from sections in large supermarkets or in health stores. We’ve also listed a few other animalfree curry sauces at the end of the recipe, but do check with your local shop/supermarket, as they may have a list including other suitable products.




Luvverly Lunches

Food to go: these recipes are not only delicious and healthy, but much cheaper than buying ready-mades at the local sarnie shop!

Creamy Mock Chicken, Avocado & Tomato Wraps

Serves 4
clock 5 minutes
Just yummy…


o 1 pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces OR 100g/generous 3oz of drained and thinly-sliced seitan/vegetarian ‘chicken’
o 1 avocado, sliced/cubed
o 2 tomatoes, cubed
o 4 tortilla wraps (preferably wholemeal)
o 1 tbsp Plamil vegan mayonnaise and 1 tbsp dairy-free yoghurt (eg Yofu or Sojasun), mixed together in a small bowl
o Black pepper
1 In a bowl, mix tofu or ‘chicken’ with avocado and tomatoes and the mayonnaise/yoghurt mixture so everything is well-coated.
2 Season well with black pepper.
3 Spread the 4 wraps out, put one quarter of the filling inside each one and fold it over.
4 If transporting, wrap in foil or place in a sealed plastic box.


Coronation Salad Sandwich

Makes 1 sandwich
clock 5 minutes
Based on the traditional Coronation Chicken recipe, this is another luxurious, easy recipe – just multiply the ingredients as appropriate if you want to make more.


o 2 large slices of good quality wholemeal bread
o 60g/2oz vegetarian ‘chicken’ or seitan, sliced quite thinly
o 1 handful lettuce leaves of choice (not Iceberg)
o 1 dsp mango chutney
o 4 thin slices tomato
Coronation Sauce:
o 1 tsp tomato purée
o 1 tbsp Plamil vegan mayonnaise
o 1 tbsp dairy-free yoghurt
o 1⁄2 tsp Madras curry paste
o 1 pinch ground allspice
o 1 dried apricot, finely chopped
o 1 splash lemon juice
o Salt and freshly ground black pepper
o 1 sprig coriander, roughly chopped


Tasty Tofu Salad

About 6 servings – also great in sandwiches, wholemeal pitta or tortilla wraps

50 minutes total:

5-10 minutes preparation

30 minutes cooking

10 minutes cooling plusmarinating time

A creamy, healthy alternative to chicken mayo. The tofu can be baking and cooling while you do other things. You can also do the marinating overnight to save time.


o 450g/16-17oz firm plain tofu, drained and patted dry
o 240ml/9fl oz water n 60ml/4 tbsp shoyu type soya sauce (eg Kikkoman or Clearspring) n Oil or low-cal oil spray to coat baking tray
o 2 thin stalks celery, finely chopped n 1⁄2 a large red pepper, finely chopped
o 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
o 5 tbsp vegan mayonnaise mixed with 5 tbsp soya milk
1 Cut tofu into 21⁄2mm/1⁄8 inch (ie very thin!) slices.
2 Place in a single layer in two shallow dishes.
3 Combine water and soya sauce and pour over tofu.
4 Marinate for 15-30 minutes.
5 Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC/Gas Mark 5.
6 Coat a baking tray with oil and add marinated tofu in a single layer.
7 Bake until deep gold in colour – about 30 minutes.
8 Cool, cut into thin strips, place in serving bowl with rest of ingredients and coat with mayonnaise/soya milk mixture.
9 Chill before serving.



Main Courses

Mock Chicken in Mushroom & White Wine Sauce

mock chicken
Serves 4
clock 30 minutes, including preparation time
This is a simple variation on an old favourite. You’ll notice that it gives three variations for the chicken substitute, so you may want to try the recipe out with each one and then decide on your favourite!


o 2 tsp olive oil
o 225g/8oz chestnut or field mushrooms, chopped
o 1 clove garlic, crushed
o 1 jar of seitan (health stores) OR 1 tin vegetarian ‘chicken’ OR 60g/2oz dried TVP chunks, soaked in stock made from 200ml/7fl oz hot water and 1⁄2 tsp vegan bouillon powder
o 360ml/13fl oz soya milk (plus a little extra if sauce too thick, or use some stock)
o 2 level tbsp cornflour
o 2 tbsp white wine OR dry sherry
o 1⁄4 -1⁄2 tsp dried thyme
o 1⁄2 tsp dried tarragon
o Small bay leaf
o Pinch ground nutmeg
o Dash of soya sauce OR Aminos (lower in salt than soya sauce. Braggs or Marigold brands available in health stores)
o Salt to taste
o Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 If using TVP chunks, soak in enough hot stock to cover.
2 Heat oil in a medium pan and sauté mushrooms until soft, adding garlic after a minute or two. Cover and leave to cook in their own juices, stirring occasionally.
3 Meanwhile, mix a few tbsp of the soya milk in a small bowl with the cornflour. Set aside.
4 Add rest of soya milk to mushrooms in pan, plus the wine/sherry, herbs, nutmeg and soya sauce/Aminos.
5 Add cornflour liquid and stir in well.
6 Bring to boil, stirring frequently, until sauce starts to thicken. Add a little more soya milk or stock if sauce is too thick.
7 Simmer for a few minutes then taste and season.
8 If using seitan/vegetarian ‘chicken’, chop into chunks. If using TVP, drain. Add chunks of choice to the sauce.
9 Leave everything to cook on a low heat (a heat diffuser is even better)*, stirring regularly for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt and black pepper if necessary. Remove bay leaf before serving.
10 Serve with cooked pasta or rice and steamed
vegetables or salad. Also nice with a baked sweet potato.
  *Heat diffusers or simmer rings are perforated metal plates (sometimes with a handle) that allow you to simmer liquids very slowly and gently. They are available from good hardware stores, kitchen stores and the like from around £4. Best used on gas flames but check the instructions.


Mock Duck Pancakes

Serves 4
clock 10-15 minutes
This is a brilliant (and fast) healthy alternative to the traditional recipe – and much kinder to ducks, of course. Because you assemble each wrap yourself and pass dishes around, it’s also a very communal-style meal – a great conversation starter!


o 1 tbsp cooking oil (not olive)
o 1 large red pepper, cut into thin strips
o 1 jar seitan OR tin of vegetarian ‘duck’
o 1 bag of fresh beansprouts Accompaniments:
o 1 small bunch radishes, cut into slices
o 1 bunch spring onions, cut into approximately 7cm/3 inch slices and then into thin slivers lengthways n4-8 soft tortilla wraps (preferably wholemeal) OR 1 pack of Chinese pancakes (available in freezers in Oriental stores)
o 4 tbsp shoyu soya sauce
o 2 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
o 2 tsp date or maple syrup
o 2 tsp cornflour n 1 tsp root ginger, grated
o 1 large clove garlic, crushed n 1⁄2 -1 tsp dark miso, to taste (available from health stores) – or use black bean sauce if you can’t find miso
1 Prepare all vegetables for stir-fry, accompaniments and sauce. Place sliced spring onions and radishes in separate small bowls – they don’t need cooking.
2 Slice seitan or mock ‘duck’ into very thin slices.
3 Make sauce. Place all sauce ingredients (except miso) in a small pan.
4 Heat gently until simmering, stirring continuously.
5 When sauce is thickened, add the miso to taste. Place in a small serving bowl and keep warm until rest of meal is ready.
6 Slice wraps into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on size (no need to do this if you have Chinese pancakes, as they are small).
7 Gently warm the wraps in oven or microwave and keep warm in a clean tea-towel or foil.
8 Heat a wok or large frying-pan until hot. Add oil, then stir-fry red pepper and seitan or mock ‘duck’ until red pepper softened and seitan/mock ‘duck’ browned – about 3 minutes.
9 Just before the end, add the beansprouts and warm through with rest of stir-fry. Place stir-fry in a serving bowl.
10 Put all bowls of food and wraps on the table. Each person takes a wrap and smears a little sauce on it. Add a few spring onions, radish slices and stir-fry mix to wrap.
11 Roll up and eat and repeat until you’re full!


Quick Thai Curry

Serves 4-6

10 minutes preparation

30 minutes cooking

You can make the curry red or green, according to preference. This recipe is a lovely – and easy! – way to make this popular dish. It’s also very good made in a slow cooker/crock pot.


To Serve:
o 330g/12oz brown basmati or short grain brown rice
o 1 pack plain tofu, cut into 8-12 cubes plus a little oil or low-cal oil spray to fry it OR 1 tin vegetarian ‘chicken’, drained and chopped OR 60g TVP chunks, soaked in stock made from 200ml/7fl oz hot water and 1⁄2 tsp vegan bouillon powder
o 1 tbsp oil
o 1 medium-large onion, chopped n 4 cloves garlic, crushed
o 1-2 dsp Thai Taste red or green curry paste (see below for availability)
o 1kg/generous 2lbs assorted vegetables: eg French or other long green beans; baby sweetcorn; red pepper cut into bite-sized pieces; aubergine, cut into 2cm/1 inch chunks; broccoli florets
o 4 Kaffir lime leaves, left whole (available from Waitrose and other good supermarkets)
o 400ml/14fl oz can coconut milk (reduced fat if available)
o Salt and freshly ground black pepper
o Juice of 1⁄2 a lime or more, to taste n Generous handful of fresh coriander leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
o Few Thai basil leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped – or use ordinary basil if you can’t find it n Handful of roasted cashews for garnish
1 Put the rice on to cook with enough water to just cover it – top up with boiling water if it starts to stick. Cook until it is slightly sticky and keep warm.
2 If using TVP chunks, put them to soak in hot stock immediately after the rice goes on. Cover and set aside.
3 If using tofu, in a non-stick or heavy-bottomed frying pan, fry tofu cubes in the oil until golden on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
4 Now cook the vegetables: sauté onion in the oil until it starts to soften.
5 Add garlic, rest of vegetables and lime leaves and cook for a further few minutes.
6 Stir in the curry paste and coat everything well.
7 Gradually stir in coconut milk – stop if curry starts to look too watery – and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add TVP chunks if using.
8 If using tofu pieces OR mock ‘chicken’ pieces, add these just before the end.
9 When vegetables are cooked, taste, add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
10 Just before serving, stir in fresh coriander, basil leaves and roasted cashew nuts.
Thai Taste curry paste is available in tubs from Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose, as well as independent health stores and delis.


Mock Chicken Satay

Serves 3-4
clock 20-30 minutes
Serve with brown rice or wholemeal noodles and a large mixed salad for a quick and delicious meal. The sauce is really easy and a sure-fire hit; it’s also great with stir-fries!


To Serve:
o 200g/7oz brown rice cooked in 450-500ml water (about 16-18fl oz) OR a 300g pack wholemeal noodles
o 1 jar of seitan OR 1 tin vegetarian ‘chicken’, drained, will make approximately 40 medium pieces – 8 skewers each containing about 5 pieces OR use 1 packet of Cauldron marinated tofu pieces
o 8 x 20cm/8 inch wooden skewers n Low-cal oil spray or a little oil Satay (Spicy Peanut)
o 125ml/8 level tbsp smooth peanut butter
o 1⁄2 tbsp root ginger, grated
o 1⁄2 tbsp garlic, crushed (about 2 medium cloves)
o 2 tsp date syrup or a little brown sugar
o 2 tsp tomato puree
o 180ml/61⁄2fl oz hot water
o 2 tbsp cider vinegar
o 1 tbsp soya sauce
o Large pinch chilli powder
o Ingredients for large mixed salad of your choice
1 If using brown rice, place it and water in a medium pan on the hob to cook first, as it takes about 20-25 minutes. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
2 Meanwhile, preheat grill to medium.
3 Make the sauce. Mix all sauce ingredients in a pan until smooth and warm gently until thickened. Keep warm.
4 If using noodles, cook now according to packet instructions. Rinse and keep warm.
5 Thread the seitan, ‘chicken’ or tofu pieces on skewers. If using seitan or vegetarian ‘chicken’, oil lightly. Place skewers under grill for about 3-4 minutes per side – but keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
6 Make salad if having.
7 If sauce is too thick, add more hot water but adjust seasoning to taste.
8 Serve ‘chicken’ skewers on a bed of rice or noodles, topped with sauce.


Mock Chicken & Cauliflower Curry with Pilau Rice

monk chicken
Serves 4

10 minutes preparation time

25-30 minutes cooking time

A mellow curry that will please everyone – just have some hot pepper sauce available for those who like a bit of a kick to their food!


o 225g/8oz basmati brown rice (or use long grain brown rice if not available/too expensive)
o 1 tsp vegetable oil n 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
o 600ml/20fl oz water n 1⁄2 tsp turmeric
o 1 heaped tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
o Salt
o 1 tbsp vegetable oil
o 1 medium onion, finely chopped
o 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
o 1 jar of Meridian Korma or other of their mildmedium curry sauces, eg Tikka Masala or Dopiaza*
o 60g/2oz TVP chunks, soaked in 1⁄2 tsp vegan bouillon and 200ml/7fl oz just boiled water OR 1 tin vegetarian ‘chicken’, drained and cut into chunks OR 1 pack plain tofu plus low-cal oil spray for frying
o 300ml/10fl oz vegetable stock or water
o 2 tsp cornflour n 100ml/generous 3fl oz soya or rice milk
o 2 tbsp plain soya yoghurt
o Salt to taste – if you’ve used salted stock, taste curry before adding any extra salt n 1 tsp garam masala
1 Heat oil in a medium-large saucepan and sauté garlic and rice for a few minutes, stirring continuously until rice is evenly coated with oil.
2 Add turmeric, water and salt.
3 Cook for 20-25 minutes or until rice tender but not mushy.
4 Meanwhile, prepare tofu or TVP chunks if using.
5 If using tofu, drain off all liquid in packet, then press with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel to extract as much excess liquid as possible. Chop into cubes and lightly fry in 2 squirts of low-cal oil spray until each side is golden brown. Set aside.
6 If using TVP chunks, soak in hot stock, cover and set aside.
7 Make curry: in a medium-large pan, heat oil and sauté onion and cauliflower for 5 minutes.
8 Add stock/water, bring to boil then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. (Add a little more fluid if necessary to ensure the cauliflower cooks without sticking.)
9 Add ‘chicken’: drained TVP chunks OR cooked tofu chunks OR vegetarian ‘chicken’ pieces.
10 In a small container, mix soya/rice milk and cornflour to a smooth paste.
11 Add this and the curry sauce to the pan. Stir well so all ingredients are coated with sauce.
12 Bring to boil, stirring continuously then simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, or until cauliflower is cooked. Check seasoning.
13 Check that the rice doesn’t need any more fluid.
14 Just before serving, add the yoghurt and garam masala and mix in to the curry.
15 Serve curry on a bed of rice, sprinkled with chopped coriander. Serve with chapattis and chutney as desired.


Mock Duck à L’Orange with Steamed Broccoli

monk duck orange
Serves 2
clock 20-25 minutes, including preparation time
An easy recipe which has a fraction of the fat content of the original – not only is duck cruelly produced but it is a very unhealthy, fatty meat.


Orange Sauce:
o Juice of 2 oranges
o Zest of 1 orange
o 100ml/4fl oz vegetable stock
o 1⁄2 tsp arrowroot, dissolved in a little cold orange juice
o 1 medium head of broccoli, chopped into florets and the outside stalks peeled thinly to get rid of the woody outer layer
o 1 tin mock ‘duck’ OR 1 jar seitan
o 1 tsp olive oil
o Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 If serving with new potatoes, put them on to cook now – or else fry pre-cooked potatoes and keep warm in the oven while you get everything else ready.
2 In a frying pan or a wide-bottomed saucepan heat the orange juice, zest and stock.
3 Add the arrowroot and whisk in, stirring well. Bring to the boil and simmer until sauce is reduced by half.
4 Meanwhile, put the broccoli on to steam. Cook for just a few minutes – check it isn’t overcooking. It should have a little bite to it. If necessary, place in a covered dish in the oven and keep warm until you’re ready to eat.
5 While sauce and broccoli are cooking, drain the liquid from the seitan/mock ‘duck’ and press with the back of a wooden spatula to get rid of any more liquid (as much as possible).
6 Heat the olive oil in a non-stick or heavy frying pan.
7 Season the seitan/mock ‘duck’ with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Depending on the brand, you may have a few ‘bitty’ pieces rather than all large chunks/steaks. This doesn’t matter.
8 Fry mock meat until each piece is lightly browned on both sides.
9 Serve with broccoli and orange sauce – and potatoes if you’ve cooked them.



Festive Feasts

Luxury Festive Roast

luxury festive roast
Serves 6-8

1 hour 45 minutes total:

30 minutes preparation and cooking

1 hour roasting

15 minutes cooling time



These are great any time, but particularly Christmas – or in the case of the Haggis, on Burn’s Night!

Probably the tastiest Christmas Roast you will ever eat! Teeming with juicy nuts, pulses, porcini mushrooms and other surprises. Although there seem a lot of ingredients, most of the preparation takes place while the lentils are cooking! And of course, you can be roasting/steaming vegetables and making gravy while the roast is in the oven…

o 110g/4oz red lentils
o 25g/1oz porcini mushrooms
o 230g/8oz mixed nuts
o 1 aubergine
o Pinch of salt
o 1⁄2 a large courgette
o 1 large carrot
o 2 celery sticks
o 1 large onion
o 100g/31⁄2oz mushrooms
o 4 tbsp dairy-free margarine (eg Pure,Vitalite or Suma brands) plus a little extra margarine or oil for baking tin
o 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
o 2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
o 2 tbsp mild curry powder
o 4 tbsp chopped parsley
o 10g/1⁄3oz chopped dried apricots
o 2 tbsp soya flour
o 110ml/5fl oz water
o Vegan pesto (eg Zest, Suma or Meridian brands, available from large supermarkets or health stores)
o 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.
2 Gently boil the lentils for around 20 minutes and soak the porcini mushrooms in hot, freshly boiled water for the same time.
3 Meanwhile, cut the aubergine in half, then chop into small chunks, along with the courgette. Lay aubergine out on a plate and sprinkle with salt (this is to reduce their bitterness). Leave for 20 minutes also.
4 Now chop the carrot, celery, onion and mushrooms into small chunks. Pass them through a food processor or blender until they are quite finely chopped.
5 Melt the vegan margarine in a wok or large frying pan and fry the vegetables for 5 minutes, stirring in the curry powder.
6 Drain and chop the porcini mushrooms, then mix in a bowl with the lentils, ketchup,Worcestershire sauce, parsley, apricots, soya flour and water. Mix well.
7 Add in mixture from wok and mix all together.
8 Grease a large bread tin with oil or vegan margarine, then line with greaseproof paper.
9 Press 4 tbsp of the mixture into the tin, then spread over a layer of pesto. Spoon in the rest of the mixture and smooth over.
10 Bake for about 1 hour until just firm, covering the top with a piece of greaseproof paper if it starts to burn.
11 Sprinkle with pine nuts to finish, then holding the sides of the greaseproof paper, gently pull the loaf out onto a plate or serving tray.
12 Trim down the paper along the edges, allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into slices and serve with our gravy recipe (see page 27).


Chestnut Paté en Crôute

Serves 6

Approximately 55 minutes:

5-10 minutes preparation

13 minutes cooking

25-30 minutes baking time

Thanks to Rose Elliot, the goddess of veggie food, for the lovely recipe! This is so easy – and it frees you up to do other things while it’s baking. Serve with piles of roast potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips – plus gravy, of course!


o 4 onions, chopped
o 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
o 2 tbsp olive oil
o 4 garlic cloves, crushed
o 100g/31⁄2oz button mushrooms, sliced
o 435g can unsweetened chestnut puree
o 75g/3oz soft breadcrumbs
o 2 tbsp brandy
o Salt and pepper
o 375g/13oz frozen ready-rolled puff pastry sheets (Jus-RolTM and Brake Brothers brands are both vegan)
o Soya milk to glaze
1 Fry the onions and celery in the oil in a large saucepan, covered, for 10 minutes.
2 Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.
3 Mix in the chestnut puree, breadcrumbs, brandy and seasoning.
4 Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8.
5 Put the pastry on a baking sheet. Pile the chestnut mixture lengthways down the middle third – you may need more than one sheet of pastry.
6 Make diagonal cuts 1cm/1⁄2 inch apart on the pastry on either side of the chestnut mixture.
7 Fold these up alternately to make a lattice covering it.
8 Trim the ends – you could make pastry leaves and stick on top with water.
9 Brush with soya milk.
10 Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat setting to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes.


Happy Haggis

Serve with Neeps & Tatties

Serves 4

100 minutes:

1 hour to soak oats

35-40 minutes baking time


Haggis is usually made from sheep guts, but of course ours is veggie, hence the recipe title. (However, some Scots love to tell gullible foreigners that ‘real’ haggis is actually a threelegged bird, with one leg longer than the others to help it get up and down the mountains and glens… a rather dodgy link to our white meat replacement theme, but there you go!)

The rest of the preparation and cooking can be done while you are soaking the oats – otherwise soak them the night before and drain in the morning. Refrigerate until needed.

o 75g/3oz fine oatmeal (the pinhead or fine variety works best)
o 110g/4oz of uncooked brown or green lentils OR 300g/11oz cooked (about 1 tin and a quarter of drained, rinsed lentils)
o 1 large onion, chopped
o 1 tbsp vegetable oil
o 2 large carrots, finely grated
o 4 to 6 mushrooms, sliced
o 1⁄4 tsp each of allspice, cumin, paprika and nutmeg
o 1⁄4 tsp each of dried sage and thyme
o 1 tbsp soya sauce
o 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
o 60g/2oz mixed nuts, ground
o 3 tsp yeast extract, eg Marmite
o 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
o Salt and black pepper to taste
o Knob of dairy-free margarine, eg Pure brand
1 Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5.
2 Put the oatmeal in a bowl and cover with water. Let it stand for at least an hour. Drain thoroughly.
3 If cooking lentils from scratch, place them in a pan of water and boil rapidly for 20-30 minutes or until soft (the time will vary according to the type of lentils).When the lentils are ready, drain and rinse them in a sieve. If using tinned lentils, ignore this stage and go to no.
4 4 Sauté the onion in the oil until it is soft. Add the carrots and mushrooms, and cook for a little longer. Then add the herbs and spices, soya sauce, cooked lentils and about a quarter of the kidney beans. Mix in the yeast extract until it is well incorporated.
5 Using a blender or potato masher, mash the remainder of the beans to form a thick paste (add a little water if necessary to prevent it getting too stiff). Add this to the lentil and vegetable mixture.
6 Finally, add the drained oatmeal, salt and pepper, and the garlic. If the mixture looks too dry, add the margarine. Mix well.
7 Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
8 If serving with Neeps & Tatties prepare vegetables as instructed on page 27, while haggis baking.


Neeps & Tatties

Serves 4
clock 25 minutes
Language note. What the Scots call turnip (neeps), the English call swede – that large round root vegetable that is a pale yellow inside, not English turnip, which is smaller and white inside.


o Even quantities of peeled potato and peeled swede – enough to serve 4
o Salt and black pepper
o A little soya milk
o Dairy-free margarine, eg Pure,Vitalite or Biona
1 Cut vegetables into medium chunks and cook in salted boiling water until tender. You can cook them separately or mix in together. Either way is fine.
2 Similarly, mix each vegetable separately with a little soya milk and margarine OR mash together.
3 Taste, then season with freshly ground black pepper.
4 Serve hot.


Red Wine & Porcini Mushoom Gravy

Serves 4
clock 25 minutes
This luxurious little number really hits the spot. Particularly good served with either the Luxury Festive Roast on page 24 or the Chestnut Paté en Crôute on page 25.


o 1⁄2 packet (approximately 7-10g) porcini or mixed dried mushrooms
o 300ml/generous 10fl oz freshly boiled water
o 4 shallots or 1 small red onion, finely chopped
o 1 tbsp olive oil
o 450ml/16fl oz hot vegan stock
o 3 tbsp cornflour mixed with 4 tbsp cold water to a smooth paste
o 240ml/generous 8fl oz red wine
o 2 tbsp sherry – any type
o 1⁄2 tsp basil
o 1⁄2 tsp tarragon
o 1 large bay leaf
o 2 tbsp medium-dark miso – miso is soya bean paste, available from good supermarkets, Oriental or health stores OR 2-3 tsp yeast extract such as Marmite
o 2 tbsp cold water
o Salt and pepper to taste (taste carefully first as miso/yeast extract/stock will all be quite salty!)
1 Boil the kettle. Place dried mushrooms in a jug or bowl, pour boiling water on them, cover and set aside.
2 In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, sauté shallots/onions in oil until translucent.
3 Add the stock, then add cornflour paste and stir in well.
4 Add wine, sherry and herbs. Bring to boil, stirring thoroughly to ensure that no lumps form.
5 Lower heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, stirring often.
6 Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix miso or yeast extract with the cold water to a smooth paste. Set aside.
7 Add porcini mushrooms and their soaking water to gravy – omitting gritty liquid at bottom!
8 If gravy too thick, add a little more water/stock; if too thin, make a paste from 1 tsp cornflour and a splash of water – bring to boil again. Add more if necessary.
9 Blend gravy to the texture you prefer – if using a goblet blender, return gravy to pan. If using a stick blender you can whizz it directly in the gravy pan.
10 Stir in miso paste but don’t allow gravy to boil.
11 Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and serve.



White meat myths

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White meat

– from chicken, ducks, turkey and geese – has become the meat of choice for many Westerners. The average person eats at least 1,226 birds in a lifetime. Chicken is the most popular, accounting for one third of all meat consumed in Britain. Recent fears over bird flu, food poisoning, dubious foreign imports and chicken meat pumped up with beef protein and water have all knocked sales. Yet despite all this, white meat’s ‘healthy’ image remains largely untarnished. High-protein, essential for kids’ growth and for muscle in athletes – you can’t get a better marketing image for white meat than that! Sadly, it’s just another of the myths that has bedevilled the national diet for decades.
















































White Meat for Athletes?

Vegan Carl Lewis won six Olympic Gold medals! Other veggie athletes include Martina Navratilova, sixtime Wimbledon tennis champion; Ironwoman Ruth Heidrich and London Sports Nutritionist Gareth Zeal, a champion weightlifter who could haul up four times his own body weight!

Contrary to popular opinion, animal protein is not essential for building muscle. The belief that eating animal muscle – meat – means you automatically build human muscle simply isn’t true. Muscles develop by being used rather than from eating another animal’s flesh. Gorillas are the most muscular of all primates and their impressive physique comes from regular physical activity and a 99.9 per cent plant diet. The remaining 0.1 per cent is from insects!

Even athletes themselves often believe that heavy training increases their protein needs. Although their needs for certain vitamins, protein and iron might increase during training, these are all automatically supplied by the extra amount of food they eat. This increased food intake makes lack of protein – or any other nutrient for that matter – unlikely.














































































































































































Food Poisoning

Over five million people suffer agonising food poisoning every year in the UK and hundreds die from it. Most European cases can be traced back to chicken. If you want to avoid food poisoning or any potential risk from bird flu then you’re advised to cook white meat properly. But here’s the ‘killer’ – thoroughly cooked chicken can increase your risk of cancer.



















New research suggests that eating just one serving of meat a week could significantly increase your risk of diabetes. Published in March 2008, the study looked at the link between the amount of meat eaten and rates of diabetes in adults. More than 8,000 people took part and none had diabetes at the start.

Those who ate even modest amounts of meat over the 17-yearlong study period had a staggering 74 per cent increased risk of developing diabetes compared to vegetarians. Allowances were made for weight gain, which can also increase diabetes risk, but independently of that, meat was an important risk factor.

Diabetes is less common among vegetarians and vegans, as a 21-year study of 25,000 adults in the USA found. Those on meat-free diets had a 45 per cent reduced risk of developing diabetes compared to the population as a whole.