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Here are ways you can make some of your favourite meals better for you and better for the planet.

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Breakfast

Cereals

Simple swap

Crunchy nut cornflakes and milk ➔ Bran flakes with a fortified plant drink (soya/nut/oat), topped with a handful of berries and a sprinkle of seeds

Tips

  • Opt for fortified wholegrain cereal or oats. Use lower fat milk or try calcium fortified plant drinks e.g. soya or oat
  • Add a serving of fruit – fresh, frozen or dried
  • Top your cereals with plant proteins such as seeds and nuts

Better for you and the planet

  • 1 of your 5-a-day
  • Big increase in fibre
  • Increase in iron, calcium and vitamin D

Classic cooked breakfast

Simple swap

Two fried beef sausages, two fried rashers of bacon, two fried eggs, a serving of beans and a spoonful of mushrooms served with two white toast and butter ➔ One grilled pork sausage, one poached egg, up the beans and mushrooms and go for two wholemeal toast with unsaturated fat spread

Tips

There's no reason why you can’t have a cooked breakfast occasionally, but:

  • Grill and poach rather than fry
  • Pile on the baked beans and mushrooms
  • Alternative meal idea: Beans on toast with a poached egg
  • Alternative meal idea: scrambled eggs or omelette with mushrooms and peas

Better for you and the planet

  • Increase in fibre
  • Decrease in saturates and salt
  • Source of vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, iodine, selenium

Lunch

Baguettes

Simple swap

Large cheese baguette with little salad and plenty of mayonnaise ➔ Make your own version using a small seeded baguette, less cheese – pile in the salad and use low fat mayonnaise

Tips

  • Go for wholegrain, wheatgerm or seeded breads
  • Use unsaturated spreads rather than butter
  • Other great fillings: falafel, hummus, lean chicken, peanut butter, egg
  • Grating a little cheese makes it go further
  • Always add seasonal, locally produced salad vegetables

Better for you and the planet

  • Decrease in calories, fat, saturated fats and salt
  • Increase in fibre
  • Source of vitamin B12 and calcium
  • 1 of your 5-a-day

Soups

Simple swap

Cream of chicken soup with a white roll and butter ➔ Lentil soup with a wholemeal roll and unsaturated fat spread

Tips

  • Go for beany, lentil and/or vegetable soups with or without added grains
  • Serve with wholemeal, seeded or wheatgerm bread spread with a vegetable spread
  • Avoid ‘cream of’ varieties or those containing ham or chorizo
  • Grain or pasta salads. Use grains like quinoa, couscous or pasta as your base. Pile on the beans, nuts and seeds and use an oil-based dressing rather
    than mayo.
  • Alternative meal idea: Jacket potato with beans.

Better for you and the planet

  • Half the saturated fat
  • 1 of your 5-a-day
  • Increase in zinc, iron and fibre

Dinner

Curry

Simple swap

Creamy curry e.g. chicken tikka masala with a large portion of rice ➔ Vegetable and bean or lentil and tomato based curry e.g. Sweet potato Bhuna curry and a moderate portion of brown rice

Tips

Don’t miss out on the nation’s favourite, but:

  • Avoid the cream-based sauces and go for tomato-based sauces or dry curries
  • Go for vegetable, peas, bean and /or lentil based chicken or fish curries
  • Serve with seasonal and locally produced vegetables
  • Watch your rice portion: three spoonfuls cooked rice is ample
  • Naan and rotis provide unnecessary fat – opt for a chapatti made without fat, or if you really want one, try and share it!

Better for you and the planet

  • Saturated fats more than halved
  • 2-3 of your 5-a-day
  • Increase in iron, calcium and fibre
  • Source of zinc

Spaghetti Bolognese

Simple swap

Classic meat recipe with a large pasta serving ➔ Halve the meat of the recipe and replace with lentils and/or beans and other veg. Serve with a moderate serving of wholewheat spaghetti and a side of seasonal or frozen vegetables

Tips

For meat recipes like stews, chilli con carne, shepherd’s or cottage pie - make it more sustainable and healthy by:

  • Replacing half or all the meat in the recipe with your choice of beans, lentils, soya mince, Quorn™, nuts, seeds and/or vegetables
  • Always serve with cooked veg or seasonal and locally produced salad vegetables
  • Choosing locally sourced meat where affordable
  • Watch your portions of rice, pasta and potatoes

Better for you and the planet

  • Half the fat
  • Cut saturated fat by 66%
  • 2 of your 5-a-day
  • Increase in iron, calcium and fibre
  • Source of zinc and selenium

Spaghetti Bolognese (Meat-free)

Simple swap

Classic meat recipe with a large pasta serving ➔ Try a veggie version by simply replacing all the meat with Quorn™ mince, serve with a more moderate serving of wholewheat spaghetti and a serving of seasonal vegetables

Tips

  • Fill up your plate with seasonal vegetables or salad
  • Watch your portions of meat, especially lamb and beef
  • Have some meat-free days
  • No more than 70g (100g raw weight) per person per day (a deck of cards)
  • Use less fat when cooking and avoid butter
  • Pizzas are tasty – but go for thin and crispy and lots of veg toppings rather than deep pan or filled crust meaty varieties and serve with vegetables

Better for you and the planet

  • Half the fat
  • Cut saturated fat by 75%
  • 2 of your 5-a-day
  • Increase in iron, calcium and fibre

How can you make your meal times more environmentally friendly & nutritious?

Red meat

Watch how much meat you eat, especially beef Red meat and lamb.

  • Try and have some meat free days
  • Keep your portions small – no more than 70g (100g cooked weight)
  • Have more plant food sources of protein such as beans, lentils, soya mince, Quorn™, nuts and seeds
  • Try replacing half or all the meat in classic recipes with some plant protein foods

Dairy

Moderate your dairy intake.

  • Choose lower fat versions or calcium fortified soya and other plant based varieties

Fruit & veg

Aim for your 5-a-day but keep it sustainable.

  • Choose local and seasonal produce
  • Avoid fruit and veg that have been flown in
  • Avoid chopped/prepared and packaged fresh fruit and veg/salads

Potatoes, bread, pasta, rice and other starchy carbohydrate foods

Eat wholegrains and tubers such as potatoes whenever possible.

Fish

Buy fish from sustainable sources.

  • Look for the Marine Stewardship Council or Aquaculture Stewardship Council symbols

Hydration

Quench your thirst with tap water.

  • Tap water or tea made with tap water – is by far the most sustainable way to go
  • Carry a refillable water bottle to top up on the go

Learning

Make learning around this topic more fun.

  • Play a game such as ‘planet on a plate’ which could include getting kids to read labels, learn about where their food comes from etc and trying to work out where all their food comes from on their plate

Waste less

Did you know...

  • A quarter of all food we buy we throw away
  • The majority of food we throw away is still edible
  • We throw away 1.2 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables away every year
  • Food in landfill contributes to global warming

Top tips for wasting less:

  • Buy tinned or frozen fruit and vegetables if you tend to throw away a lot when you buy fresh
  • Plan your meals ahead and only buy what you need
  • If food is nearing its use by date, cook it and freeze
  • Any waste should be recycled – it makes for great compost
  • Cook leftovers

Choose seasonal fruit and veg that is locally produced or go for frozen, dried or tinned variants – especially for fruit.

View our seasonality calendar here, taken from the Vegetarian Society website.