Hold on to your broccoli stems kids, next week is officially Meat Free Week, 18 – 24th March! It’s a week in which we can celebrate a culinary world sans animal flesh. “Lamb chop move aside, it’s MY time to shine,” (said Mr Beetroot).

In all seriousness, Meat Free Week is an opportunity to think about how much we consume. In case you’re wondering, we need to think about this because as a nation, we’re consuming way too much. Even the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare agrees – the latest Australian Dietary Guidelines stress that we need to halve our meat consumption immediately. The amount of meat we are eating annually – 120kg per person or 190,000 tonnes nationally – is putting pressure on our environment and our farmers. Carbon, nitrogen and methane emissions, water use and ethically-questionable intensive farming practices result.

Seafood is meat too

The seafood industry is under the same pressure as land-based food sectors, and it’s causing trends like 72% of seafood eaten in Australia being imported from countries like Thailand, Vietnam and China – countries that rate very low for responsible fishing practices (Australia ranks no. 4, Thailand no.42 out of 53 countries ranked). A Meat Free Week should, therefore, also exclude seafood.

What to do and what to cook

The good news is that contributing to a brighter future for our environment, animals and farmers isn’t that hard. It simply involves eating less meat (purchased from small, local and ethical farmers) and more vegetables and stuff. By stuff we mean highly nutritious yet super cheap protein sources like beans, lentils, quinoa and other seeds and grains.

To help you prepare and enjoy Meat Free Week, we have developed this absurdly useful FREE recipe booklet that we’ve designed to cover ALL your meals for the week. That’s 21 meat free recipes at your fingertips – 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners. It’s a trifecta!

Download your FREE copy of the recipe booklet by clicking on the image below:


What about beyond the week?

This isn’t about converting anyone to a vegetarian. It’s about learning to respect meat as it should be respected. Eating less of it (and more veg) and paying a little more for quality, ethically and sustainably-produced meat is the way to go.

Share your photos & win

Of course we have a competition! Share your photos of the meat free recipes you cook from our booklet and be in with a chance to win a copy of our award-winning book The Sustainable Table, valued at $40.  Here’s what you need to know:

Take snaps of your pretty meat free dishes and share with us either on Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to tag us on Facebook using @TheSustainableTable or on Twitter using @SustainTable. At the end of the week we’ll select the top 3 prettiest pics and draw a winner! Entries close COB 10pm Sunday 24th March 2013 EST.

You can fundraise for Voiceless too

Get your friends, family and workmates to sponsor you for the week and the money will go towards supporting the work of Voiceless.

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan

You can still get involved by encouraging others around you to take up the challenge of a meat free week. Here’s a few ideas.