Food & Drink

Food & Drink

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What are your thoughts on meat?  Are you a vegan, vegetarian, a meat with every meal kind of person, or somewhere in between?

I’m a vegetarian and have been for going on 12 years now, but I’m not pious about it.  It personally doesn’t bother me if I’m out to lunch or dinner with friends and someone sitting next to me is tucking into a steak.  I’m even happy to cook meat for friends or family that come over for food and don’t want to eat a vegetarian meal.

I understand that not everyone wants to be vegetarian or vegan, or even can be for health reasons, and I would never preach to people about why they should stop eating meat altogether.  What I do believe is that the most realistic and sustainable solution would be if everyone just ate less meat – even just by having one meat-free day a week.

So, as you can imagine, it was really exciting when Quorn, the leading meat alternative brand, got in touch with me to see if I would like to chat to one of my long-term favourites, Ben Fogle, about eating less meat and how that relates to sustainability.  I was also interested to find out how, as a meat eater, Ben has got on reducing his and his family’s meat intake.

I caught up with Ben after a day’s filming at the WWF UK Headquarters in Surrey, where he had met with Duncan Williamson, the food policy manager at WWF UK to film a short video for Quorn on the environmental impact of meat production.

The finished video of Ben and Duncan is currently in production,  but I’ll share it here on the blog in a few weeks time.  It’s sure to be a good one!

If Ben has inspired you to eat less meat, you could join the 35% of the UK’s population who identify themselves as semi-vegetarian (or flexitarian to give it it’s proper name) – where you still eat meat, but with less frequency.

My top tip for embracing flexitarianism is to start small: start with one meat-free dinner a week, then after a while see if you can make it a meat-free day.  If you want to introduce other meat-free days into your week then great, but if one feels plenty then stick with that.  It’s about what feels right for you.

I personally started out as a flexitarian in my mid-teens, long before I knew the proper term for it.  I started eating fewer meat-based meals at around age 15.   At the time I had given vegetarianism a fleeting thought, but the jump between someone who ate meat for every meal to eating no meat at all felt like too large a leap for me.

Then, after moving out of my parent’s house at age 17 to go to university I rarely, if ever, bought meat to cook and consume at home due to my somewhat limited student budget.  My meat consumption was limited to the rare occasions when I ate out, and my spell of working as a waitress, when I would practically inhale the meat-based meal kindly provided by the kitchen staff after being on my feet for 8 hours.

After ten years of eating less meat, I then decided to become vegetarian at 25, mostly motivated by the links between meat consumption and climate change.  As Ben discusses in the video, he learned that the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains, and ships combined.  I was working as a climate change researcher for a university at the time and the more I learned, the more I wanted to cut meat out of my diet completely.  Because I had eaten less meat for 10 years, the jump to vegetarianism was an easy one for me.

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Something that I found helpful in my transition, first to flexitarianism, and then later to vegetarianism, was Quorn, the meat-free substitute.

I found that in particular Quorn sausages, mince and fillets were handy things to have in the freezer when I wanted to rustle up something protein packed quickly and easily.  What I also appreciated is that Quorn is a highly sustainable source of protein.  Quorn mince, for example (which makes for a wonderful ingredient in chili or spaghetti bolognese) produces 90% less CO2 emissions than minced beef, and is very efficient in its land and water usage.  Their latest sustainability report makes for an interesting read if you would like to learn more.

Even now, Quorn is something I turn to frequently.  I do like to cook from scratch, but as working parents, we don’t always have the time or energy to do so after a long day at work, so having a back-up in the freezer is a godsend.

My current favourite is Quorn Fishless Fingers – vegan fish fingers that taste delicious drizzled with a wedge of lemon and served alongside chunky chips and peas.  True comfort food that the whole family enjoys!  On road trips, we’ll often pack some Quorn Picnic Eggs and Cocktail Sausages and the four of us will fight over who gets to eat the last ones.

Let me know what you thought of the video with Ben Fogle – and if there is anything you would have loved to have asked Ben!

I also can’t wait to share the finished video with Ben and Duncan – so do stay tuned!

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Food & Drink, Life & Style

After the best reusable coffee cup? I’ve found it!

hydro flask review uk

I have been on the hunt for the very best reusable coffee cup, and I’m happy to say I’ve finally found the one.

You see, I have quite a prolific tea habit.  Coffee, less so, but tea, gosh, give me all the tea.  I never like to be too far from a hot beverage, and my bog-standard reusable coffee cup wasn’t quite cutting the mustard for me.

hydro flask review uk

My issues with the standard reusable cups were twofold.  Firstly, when I’m out and about I’m normally pushing a buggy.  This means I can’t carry a reusable coffee cup.  I have tried to balance it in the buggy basket but that only resulted in spilled tea.  And while you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk, you should definitely cry over spilled tea.

The other times I want to use my reusable coffee cup are for the bus commute to and from work.  I don’t have time for a cup of tea before I leave the house.  Therefore I like to use my commute to drink tea and read the news on my phone.  The problem is I’m normally fumbling in my purse to find change for the bus, or trying to find my ticket. Having one hand out of action whilst holding the cup wasn’t ideal either.

My Reusable Coffee Cup Criteria

What I wanted was something like a flask, that could be sealed up and chucked in my bag without fear of spillage, but was easy to drink on the bus.  Drinking tea out of a flask cup on the bus isn’t ideal and prone to spillage if the bus starts or stops suddenly.

After intense internet searching, I didn’t think such an invention existed.  Then, randomly one day, I came across the Hydro Flask – a reusable coffee cup that promised to not leak when sealed up.  After reading a little about it I bought one as a treat to myself in the hope that it would solve all of my tea based problems.

best reusable coffee cup uk

Does the Hydro Flask Live Up to the Hype?

I have been using my Hydro Flask for a month now.  As such, I’m ready to say, hand on heart, that it is the best reusable coffee cup out there, by a mile.

I have tossed it around my bag for a month on all kinds of adventures and have had zero leaks! Bus trip to make?  I pop it in my bag and have two hands free to get on the bus with ease.  Off to the park with my little ones?  I pop it in my bag and off we go with the buggy.  Car journey to make?  I pop it in my bag and don’t have to worry about it spilling when we hit a bumpy road.

Hydro Flask Performance

My Hydro Flask keeps drinks piping hot for hours.  So hot, in fact, that I have to make my tea or coffee and leave it to cool for 5 minutes or so before decanting it into the Hydro Flask. Otherwise it’s scalding hot and undrinkable for a good couple of hours, which, yes, I did learn the hard way.

The Hydro Flask is also great at keeping cold drinks cold.  This means I don’t have to carry about a separate reusable coffee cup and water bottle.  This saves my back and freeing up precious space in my already bulging mum bag.

What I love most about the Hydro Flask is that when you screw the cap back on it doesn’t cause the liquid to displace if you’ve been a bit overzealous and happened to fill it up a bit too much.

It’s also easier to clean than a traditional flask.  There are no fiddly components.  Just a solid lid.  This means it’s not prone to fusty odours that flasks can be prone to.  As I say, best reusable coffee cup ever!

The Downsides?

My only criticism is that the body of the cup does not get hot.  Therefore so you don’t get that comforting warm feeling you get when holding a cup of hot tea.  However, if it did then it wouldn’t keep the tea or coffee warm for so long, so I guess you can’t have it all.

Do Baristas Accept Hydro Flasks?

You can buy the Hydro Flask in varying sizes – from a small 12 oz, a medium 16 oz, to the large 20 oz.  Rather handily these are equivalent to standard coffee shop sizes.  I plumped for the medium.  The large felt a little too large, even for my liking.

Even with the medium, it’s got a nice wide mouth.  And so far I’ve found that coffee shops are happy to fill it.  Therefore I’ve been making sure to get my reusable cup discount!  With my tea habit, my cup will pay for itself in no time!

If you’re also after the best reusable coffee cup too, then I’ve found the Hydro Flask online on Amazon* or Cotswold Outdoor if you’d prefer to avoid Amazon.

In case you’re curious, I paid full price for my Hydro Flask and am just sharing the love of this rather fortuitous find that has vastly improved my tea drinking on the go!