Should life be a constant meat feast?

nasi lemakLooking back over my last five posts, I see that I’ve reported on eating steak, lamb chops and lamb shanks. This is pretty much in line with global statistics. According to the Rough Guide to Food:

As a species, we are consuming more meat than ever before: world per capita meat consumption has doubled since the 1960s and, on current projections, by 2050 it will have doubled again.

Of course, much of this is down to the increasing affluence in the developing nations. But the fact remains, that in the West we eat far more meat than we need to. I used to spend half of every year in Southeast Asia with work. Time in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia taught me that tasty meals need not be based on the meat and two veg formula; and that a little meat can go a long way. Meals like Malaysia’s nasi lemak use meat as an accompaniment rather than as a centrepiece, an I think this is a really healthy attitude. Nasi lemak comprises a scoop of white rice cooked in coconut milk, to which is added ikan bilis (small, dried anchovies), roasted peanuts, fried or hard-boiled egg, sambal sauce, slices of cucumber and – perhaps – a small chicken wing or leg, or a small piece of fish. In Indonesia, I often enjoyed plates of rice which drew the majority of their protein count from nuts and tempeh (deep-fried slices of a cake made from fermented soy bean).

It’s a telling fact that, until I spent time in Southeast Asia, I never enjoyed eating meat off the bone. At Sunday lunch I would always ask or breast, not leg or wing. More fool me: not only is the darker chicken meat tastier than breast, but how spoilt I was to think that eating off the bone was somehow unsavoury or inconvenient. In many parts of Southeast Asia, people don;t have the luxury of passing up food on the bone.

In summary, a balanced diet need not revolve around a huge chunk of meat; a little meat can augment a varied dish; and bones are not evil. I must strengthen my resolve to cut down my meat intake.

[This post was brought to you by the excellent – and ad-free BBC coverage of the Spanish Grand Prix]