Happy new year!
More people than ever have chosen to give Veganuary a try this year. Others, who perhaps aren’t quite ready to take that step, will at least have resolved to reduce their meat intake.
It’s encouraging to see so many people willing to challenge and change their food consumption habits, whether it be for health, environmental or ethical reasons, or all three.
Sadly, world governments continue to show little similar willingness to change their bad habits.
Unsustainable farming practices – the continued growth of the meat and dairy industries in particular – continue to be heavily subsidised by governments at the expense of the rest of us, including those who farm sustainably.
A recent report revealed that 99% of worldwide farming subsidies goes to support farmers engaged in high-emission cattle production, excessive use of agrochemicals and deforestation.
If those subsidies were redirected instead towards a transition to a healthier agricultural regime, they would simultaneously help to tackle climate change. Cultivating organic soil and planting trees, for example, are effective ways to capture and store carbon. In addition, we would all have the benefit of a supply of healthier food and a better diet.
The way the world’s food system currently operates is not only unsustainable, it is propelling us rapidly towards climate disaster.
Changing the way we eat is the biggest single contribution we can make at an individual level. Less demand for meat and more demand for organic produce will help force change.
Since our governments won’t do it, it’s down to us.
As the name would suggest, the famous Bolognese sauce originates from the Italian city of Bologna. Tradionally a meat-based sauce, there is in fact no single recipe that can claim to be “authentic”.
This vegan version, based upon crumbled smoked tofu and finely chopped vegetables, takes quite a few liberties with the general concept of a Bolognese sauce, but in my defence it results in a plate of food that is very tasty, hearty and nutritious.
smoked tofu and mushroom Bolognese
225 g smoked tofu, grated or broken into small pieces using a food processor
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
150 g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, approx 100 g, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
200 ml red wine (or substitute vegetable stock if preferred)
450 ml organic passata
25 g organic tomato puree
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C (275°F, gas mark 1). Pour the olive oil into a large ovenproof dish that has a lid and place over a medium heat. After a minute, add the onion, celery and carrot and fry, stirring for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring for another three minutes before stirring in the crumbled tofu.
2. Stir in the oregano, basil, sea salt and black pepper then add the wine, passata and tomato puree. Bring to a simmer, then give everything good stir before placing the lid on the dish and then placing it in the pre-heated oven.
3. Cook the sauce in the oven for 30 minutes. After the sauce has been in the oven for 20 minutes, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until just tender – al dente. Drain the pasta.
4. Remove the dish from the oven and remove the lid. Carefully stir in the drained spaghetti and serve immediately.