food

'When my daughter gave up meat, our family learned these 5 things.'

Quorn
Thanks to our brand partner, Quorn

My daughter was eight when she told me she wasn't going to eat meat anymore.

She was entirely unaware that at 11, I'd told my mum the same thing. 

We'd been on holiday on a farm, city kids spending the days roaming chicken coops and pig pens and a shed with wall-to-wall rabbit hutches stuffed with fluffy bunnies. Some uncomfortable connections were made. 

I told Mum that I wanted my "last meat meal" to be roast beef and Yorkshire puddings (we were English, after all) and I didn't eat any meat again for 12 years.  

They were my formative food years. My busy working parents drew up a cooking roster when I was 12, and I subjected them to all kinds of strange weeknight meals from one thin, dog-eared recipe book I'd been given, Easy Vegetarian Food For One. Clearly designed for singular plant-eaters in a family on carnivores. People like me. 

I made the family fried cottage cheese burgers one particularly memorable Wednesday. They really weren't great. I think I remember my brother sighing, 'FFS' and stomping off to find a cheeseburger. 

But anyway, I digress.

My daughter was eight. We were on our way north for a camping trip (remember when that was something we all did?) and she announced it at the drive-through. "Just fries for me, Mum. I don't eat meat anymore."

I exchanged a look with my partner. "Sure you don't, babe." I said.

"Let's not make A Thing of it," I said to him. "See where it goes." 

Taco night at ours. More on that soon... Image: Supplied

Where it went was here, two years later, and my girl is still a vegetarian. Still perfectly happy in her decision. 

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I am not. I started eating meat again in adulthood. I went through the motions of picking bacon out of my first Aussie housemate's delicious Ceasar salad until... I didn't. Slowly, meat came back into my life.

So Matilda is the only true vegetarian in our home, but she's not the only one with dietary requirements. My little boy, Billy, is the person you see when you look up "picky eater" in the dictionary. He eats about three things knowingly, and none of them a vegetable, so cooking for one kid who won't eat meat and another who won't not eat meat is... challenging.

'Family dinner' might be a big bowl of noodles in the middle of the table, chicken over here, veggies over there, and everyone chooses their own adventure.

It's really not the simplest way to feed people, but it's taught me a lot. Things like: 

1. Kids know their own minds. People have said to me, "It's so nice of you to let your daughter make that choice." I don't know how to 'let' her make any other choice. At eight, she was sure enough about her own view of the world that she knew she didn't want to eat meat, and the idea of trying to force her to never entered my mind. It's become a part of who she is, and she never waivers. Of course, she hasn't ever been tempted by my old friend's Caesar salad...

2. "Mince" is a relative concept. Tacos made with Quorn mince is something everyone in our house will eat willingly.

Here's our Quorn mince. Image: Supplied.

Delicious. Image: Supplied.

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The great thing about the Quorn protein-rich, fibre-filled mince is that it takes on other flavours brilliantly, so with the taco spice mix we'd traditionally add to beef mince, plus a tin of kidney beans, the stuffing for our hard and soft tacos is tasty, meat-free and gets past Billy. Tick, tick.

 Ta-dah. Image: Supplied

3. We instantly collect some eco-cred. It was speech day this week at the kids' school. It wasn't the usual kind, since we watched at home via Zoom, after a whole litany of teachers came up to the camera and asked "Is it on?" and "Can you hear us?", just like those early iso days away from the office.

Every second speech was about the environment, and most of them urged us to take a 'meat-free' Monday, but in our house, we're way ahead of one day a week of being kinder to the planet by eating less meat. 

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Quorn is a more sustainable source of protein. Their super protein, called mycoprotein, uses natural, nutritious fungus grown in soil, which is then fermented. It uses 90 per cent less land and water to produce protein from traditional animal sources. Better for the planet, and delicious too.

4. Veganism will be off the table until an obsession with ice cream - both the fancy gelato kind and the fast-food, soft serve, super-cheap kind - has passed. Which may be never, if my own life is anything to go by.

5. 'Nuggets' make a pub-meal an at home possibility. Again, Quorn beats Billy at his own game, with vegan nuggets that you can throw in the oven to crisp up exactly like the other kind at the pub.

Last night, both my kids had a Friday night treat tea of Quorn nuggets, oven chips and a big pile of veggies (for Matilda, at least). And plates were cleaned.

This was a favourite. Image: Supplied

Maybe Matilda will remain a non-meat eater for the rest of her days. Maybe, like me, she'll drift back to meat. But either way, not eating meat is much, much easier than it was back when I was an idealistic 11-year-old.

And no-one need ever eat a fried cottage cheese burger ever again.

For more products and recipes to make it meat-free more often in your household, check out quorn.com.auFind Quorn products in the freezer and chiller sections of your local Coles, Woolworths or independent stores.


Quorn
Discover a delicious, nutritious and a sustainable protein source with Quorn. Quorn products contain the unique ingredient mycoprotein, which is nutritionally healthy because it’s a source of protein and dietary fibre. Producing mycoprotein uses less land and water than animal protein production, so it’s better for the planet too! Find your family favourites and discover more adventurous Quorn creations.
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