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Faking it

Let's be honest: the healthy eating Veganuary-themed post has the potential for enough sequels, prequels and TV spin-offs to squash even the stubbornly interminable Star Wars. But any die-hard fans out there may be disappointed to know that unlike the above film franchise (or the Die Hard film franchise, for that matter), in 42 years I will no longer be foisting my opinions on millions of gullible cinema-goers, but instead enjoying a carbon-free retirement in a renewably-fuelled cabin, or perhaps even starting the afterlife as a reef-ball for fish to nibble on in the middle of the ocean. Until that joyous day (which will follow a long and blissfully happy career at OSMP, I hasten to add), my healthy-eating musings will continue to pepper, whilst not suffocating, this blog. Don't want to erm, "over-egg" the pudding, right?

Time for my very best chicken chat (not chaat). Since owning 3 of these feathered beauties, I have come to love their cute clucking and their inquisitive pecking as they investigate the garden and suddenly appear at the patio door with their beady little eyes glinting mischievously. Alright alright, you got me, I also love their tasty eggs. Seeing pictures of battery-reared hens and the squalor of the environment in which they are bred with no access to sunlight, grass, and general wiggle room does make the whole animal welfare argument pretty compelling.

What, surely you don't still eat chicken then, I hear you gasp in horror. Truthfully, rarely.

Stood in the kitchen with a pair of succulent breasts on the chopping board, I feel The Guilt, which is why THIS, a brand of meat-free meat (stay with me), or 'fake chicken' is a godsend. With the look and texture of meat, it really is a very tasty alternative. If you're allergic to soy bean protein, water or pea protein, this ain't for you. I'm not yolking (joking, sorry). And they have a list of very interesting FAQs on their website to prove they are eco-savvy and up there with the top dogs in terms of beating meat out of the park when it comes to carbon-emissions. Look, the fact is, meat contains high levels of fats that can cause your arteries to clog up, leading to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and other scary conditions you don't want to read about before your Sunday roast. Reducing the amount of meat you eat is also one of the biggest changes you can make to cut your personal carbon footprint.

Am I supposed to say that other meat-free options are available? Yes? Uh, ok. Well if you enjoy cooking from scratch, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, quinoa and beans are the building blocks for all sorts of mouthwatering protein loveliness, such as burgers, curries, soups, falafels, hummus and more. Then there's tofu (more soy bean paste that has had the living daylights squeezed out of it), and Quorn (a fungus-based protein still strutting its stuff since the 1980s, basically the food equivalent of a shellsuit).

Remember though that many processed plant-based foods like cakes, dairy-free yoghurts, and pizzas may still be high in salt, saturated fats and sugars. So read the label carefully (more about food labels soon!). And if you're looking for inspiration to create something that doesn't resemble cardboard with salad on a plate, check out this article for some popular vegan cookbooks, and join famous vegans such as Venus Williams, Jermain Defoe and Lewis Hamilton.

The bottom line is, life without a chicken club sarnie can absolutely be achieved without losing the yummy taste. Go on, try it next time you feel, er peckish, I dare you...

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