National Vegetarian Week 2021 - A chat with Chris Packham
National Vegetarian Week 2021 – A chat with Chris Packham
We caught up with wildlife TV presenter and conservationist, Chris Packham, on all things National Vegetarian Week and who to nominate to take the Veggie 123 challenge. You can join the challenge right now at www.nationalvegetarianweek.org
Eating more veggie meals is a great way to do your bit for the planet and feel great. What do you think is the best thing about eating more veggie/vegan food?
Vegetarian (off the shelf food) was previously harder to find, so you had to make an active choice to be veggie which I think makes you think more about what you eat instead of being able to stick anything in your face. Where has the food come from? You’ve gone to the trouble of buying fresh vegetables to cook so you are less likely to mess up the cooking – you want them to taste good so you would take more interest in cooking and your health. Preparing your own food rather than dealing with processed food, I think it’s behavioural, you actually think about what you’re eating. Ultimately that ought to impact on how much food you waste. 70% of all food waste takes place in the home.
What are your favourite vegetarian/vegan ingredients?
Still love celeriac, carrots, parsnips. Yeh, I love root vegetables. It really takes a lot to beat a new potato. I’m a massive fan of peas!
How often do you cook veggie/vegan meals usually?
Not very often although coincidentally I had to make my dinner last night and I made a stir fry – it was great, actually tasty and not overcooked at all! I’m very lucky though as my partner takes an interest in cooking and she’s an excellent cook.
So you’re supporting the Veggie 123 challenge this National Vegetarian Week – what would you say to someone who is thinking about taking part?
Try it and see – this is the whole point of these challenge weeks. People think it’s a time you are going to be converted but that’s not necessarily the case. It’s about trying something new, even just for the week. Integrate it into your diet. You might continue to eat meat but you might find that maybe you will eat less. It’s a means of starting or initiating the thought process. Just have a go.
What’s your favourite vegetarian/vegan meal?
Butter tofu curry, which is REALLY good. Basically vegan butter – crispy tofu equals really tasty. It’s one of the BOSH! books recipes.
Which veggie/vegan ‘fakeaway’ would you like to master?
Japanese – vegan sushi would be great – it’s an art form.
Have you ever tweaked a recipe to make it veggie?
No not really. Well I suppose I did when I turned to veggie burgers?
Why do you think veggie and vegan food is increasing in popularity?
I think people are waking up to the environmental impact of eating. Also their health and the impact of what they are eating. We are definitely making inroads in educating people in animal welfare and industrial farming. Food wise, it’s more accessible, there are so many more people being vegetarian and vegan so it’s more acceptable in terms of getting food in restaurants and supermarkets. It wasn’t as easy 30 years ago but now there are so many things on the market.
What was the first veggie meal you cooked and how did it go?
Veggie pasta – you can’t mess up a pasta.
How often do you cook from scratch and do ever just fancy a microwave meal?
‘We’ cook from scratch every day – Charlotte loves cooking which, like I said I am very lucky, but as soon as her back is turned…. Ping!
What would you say to someone on their first steps of their veggie/vegan journey?
Make sure you enjoy it – you don’t have to give up anything in nutrition, health or flavour. It’s not a step backwards.
Who inspired you to discover more about vegetarian food?
Michaela Strachan – she was the one who encouraged me to do the veggie pledge week.
For National Vegetarian Week this year we’re encouraging people to get involved with our Veggie 123 challenge – which two celebs did you nominate to go veggie for the week?
Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer. Because more people will hear about it.