Living with a meat lover

Tags: Food

Story of a French girl who quit meat 5 years ago and turned to share her life with a meat lover. Student life, meat, plastic, healthy life, how do we combine everything while not losing your head? I accepted the challenge!

Who am I
My name is Meredith, a French girl and a Master’s student in Leadership for Change, European and Global Politics at Tampere University. After spending my Erasmus in Tampere in 2017/2018, I decided to pursue my journey in Finland and who knows settle forever? Forever is quite a big word, let’s try to moderate our excitement here. Thus, I am living in Lapinniemi Area in a non-student building but very close to the TOAS building. I share my life with my partner who is Finnish and also student. So, here is my journey with meat … Where to start ? Four years ago I entered University in France (oh gosh, I feel old..) and I started to care about things! You must think wow , what is that girl living in a bubble. Well, veggie, vegan was something “trendy” (for hipsters) and for rich people. (bobo in French). One day, I came home and said to my mum , I am feminist and vegetarian and it is starting now! I leave you imagine the reaction – Again your teenager crisis is coming back – Why can’t you just stop with all your crazy ideas and be as everyone – I prepared beef for dinner so you are not eating? Can’t you start tomorrow. No, I decided and then I started. Since April 2016, I didn’t touch a piece of meet. And guess what ? I didn’t die and I’m in good health – I know it is so surprising. However, living in Finland had been quite a struggle for being vegetarian and also A FOOD LOVER as me. Where are your vegetables in winter ? Well, maybe thanks to this wonderful climate change – no snow - mandarin will start to grow in Helsinki in January. Stop kidding, this is a challenge – Local food , student budget, no plastic and no meat … How do I manage ? Sometimes I don’t, and I have to make choices.

Groceries in K-market
First episode, I will start with a simple evening with my partner. We were coming from school/work with my partner and I decided ok, we are going to do small groceries but SMART groceries. We ended up spending one hour in a small K-Market (Lapinniemi) and bought around 10 items (yes, it was an adventure). First things first- we stopped buying any plastic bags except the bio-plastic and we use it as trash bags, so we don’t have to buy this plastic trash bags.
Now that I am talking Trashy trashy, I can briefly share a recycle example that we implemented home. This is blog starts to be a bit too intimate, I didn’t think I would share my waste with you one day but here we are! (feel privilege please). So, this is a two and two bin system (available in bauhous for example- no I don’t have a discount count sorry ask Instagram), where you can split carboard, bottles, biowaste and mixed waste (can improve by splitting the plastic if you have more space). Biowaste needs, Biowaste plastic bags but the one just above are fitting.

TADA ! Total price. Here are the final items we ended up buying. Which were the dilemmas. You sure, I can’t buy meat? No. A little bit, just so I have something consistent to eat (yea vegetables are for turtles and turtles don’t seem to have so much energy in their lives… hmmm) Ok you choose one meat with no plastic then. (After 5minutes of course I realize plastic is everywhere) Ok so local meat and not big quantity (you can see the sausages). Another dilemma, was the choice of eggs, well I still don’t speak Finnish and I always thought I was buying free eggs, but it was written that “maybe the chicken were going out”? What does it mean? If they are in good mood, if they succeed opening the cages by themselves? Not enough. Bio eggs are twice the price, we are still students. So, we chose the “organic” eggs, they go outside and find their insects, have natural lights, no GMO so… ok we go for that. Better not to eat any for sure. Advice,, buy -30% food and freeze it, it works well with the bread or vegetarian food. For the fruit, only apples are coming from Finland right now, I will give you a good apple pie recipe. Milk, many organic options are available and will advice to taste at least, because even a meat lover comprised on that, so why not you ? The last dilemma was the cereals…. We spent 30minutes trying to find out where the cereals were coming from and what was in there. Nestlé didn’t even dare giving information except the catchy “40% is real” – Congratulations you are eating 60% of fake food. We chose the better out of the worse and I am not proud of this one. One colleague is doing a research on the eco labels and it will be useful for this kind of item, for example.

What can we cook with this?

This is a homemade Erasmus creation.
You need potatoes, eggs, tomato sauce, cheese (as you prefer), salt, pepper and for meat people, one or two sausages can be added. The important thing is to cut the potatoes in small cubes and fried them in the pan, so they get crusty.
For two people and 1.5 meals per person, 5 eggs, 5 potatoes.
It can be served with salad, and halloumi cheese in the hoven with a bit of cream! It takes approximately 30 minutes; it has some proteins and salad is an additional healthy ingredient.

What can we do with the apples ?
I have to confess, this apple had been baked a week after, because baking takes time! So I baked the apple pie my partner used to eat during his childhood, I have to admit I felt like a woman when I cooked for my man – JOKE. We do share the cooking as a 2020 feminist, it is important to remember that every service we do at home has to rewarded and is not “a gender duty”. Women never forgive, we don’t have neither cooking or cleaning gene. Just a friendly reminder, let’s go back to this pie.

Recipe

Dough:
150g butter
3.5 DL of wheat floor
1 big spoon of Ice sugar
1 big spoon of cold water
Pick the sugar, flour and butter by hand. Add water and mix quickly. Put it in the fridge for approximately one hour.

Filling:
750g apple sliced (really thin slices)
1.5 dl of sugar
1 big spoon of cinnamon
(1.5 big spoon of calvados)
Peel the apples and slice, add sugar, cinnamon and calvados. Roll the dough and put it in the bowl. Make holes with a fork and prebake in 225° for 10 min. Add the filling and continue baking for approximately 25min – until apples are soft.

Meringue:
6 egg white (no waste do an omelet with the left yellows)
7-9 big spoon of sugar
Whip the egg whites into a thick foam (better with a robot, or consider going to the gym for 2 weeks before), add sugar carefully. Add the meringue on top and bake in 250 until the surface is brownish ( careful it’s around 5min).

Which vegetarian meal can make a meat lover forget about meat?

That is a very good question. The answer from meat lover to: why are you not trying more vegetarian product? “when veggie food will taste like meat, I will stop meat”. Guess what, veggie food makes a lot of progress and I can say that sometimes I felt bad thinking it was real meat. I can tip you later with good “veggie meat”. However, I got the answer for you, I made it. I convinced him with my specialty, veggie LASAGNA!

I went to Lidl this time and for the price of 20 euros you can make lasagna and still have some spared vegetables. This lasagna was 6 meals for us in total! The dilemma in Lidl was horrible, plastic is everywhere, vegetables are definitely not from Finland except the tomato. But I bought them Bio for whatever it means…

Recipe

1 tomato
1 box of bio tomato sauce
1 or 1/2 egg plant
2 Zucchini
1 onion
1 paprika
1 box of veggie smashed meat
1 pack of lasagna sheets
1 bag of emmental

For the Bechamel :
60 cl of Milk
50 g of butter
50g of flour
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg powder

First, cut the vegetables in slices. Cook the vegetable separately, zucchini, egg plant , paprika and onion can be cooked at same time. Cook the veggie meat and add some tomato sauce as in the picture. The bechamel has to be done last moment , first butter, then flour and then slowly the milk to avoid pieces. Spices can be added at the end. You need to keep on whipping it, until you put it in the preparation.
Take a big dish suited for oven.

First step , add some of the tomato sauce and bechamel in the bottom. Then, you cover with lasagna sheet. Add some tomato sauce and bechamel, then add the zucchini + tomato sauce.

Second step, cover with lasagna sheets and repeat the same with egg plants and the veggie meat.

Third step, cover with one more layer of the sheets and add paprika and onions. Add some emmental and put half of the tomato on top of it. Add some bechamel and tomato sauce.

Final step, cover with the last lasagna sheet layer and finish the bechamel.
Add the rest of the emmental cheese.
Put in the oven 180° for approximately 30 minutes.
Check regularly.

What If I don’t have time neither to grocery nor cook?

Indeed, it also happen and as students and workers this is not always easy to find time and energy to spend an hour in grocery questioning where the food is coming from. One night this exact situation happened, first reaction ok let’s buy a pizza or burger in the closest fast food. First, it will cost you a lot. Second, this will require 2 weeks at the gym while we all know that it is not worth it and finally, it not environmentally friendly. So ok girl but I still want something good and quick. RESQ APP is your friend. This app is connected with a lot of café and restaurant in Tampere center/Kaleva… Every day you can rescue the food from lunch or the last evening for a really cheap price. Users grades the restaurant so you can check the quality of the food. It was also easy for us because I could take no meat and he could choose a meat dish. Moreover, it avoids food waste which is a very big issue in our society. For 16 euros, we got food for 2 meals each with a good diversity. Noodles, chicken and curry, tofu and sauce and a set of 10 smoke salmon sushi- still fresh. The containers were plastic, but you can used them as Tupperware, except the sushi one. The restaurant was Sakura sushi in the city center, and we got an extra 20% discount because the restaurant was almost closing. I would recommend any of you checking regularly this app and consider eat before running to McDonald.

How do I feel about this challenge? Daily adventure
As a personal feeling, I would say, it is not easy to make a conscious choice every day regarding food consumption. Multiple temptation and bad habits are hurting you every day. However, I would say everything you do has an impact and every choice, even small makes a difference. Be kind with yourself even if the guilt above your head is permanent, if you care then you already have an impact. Choose a challenge which is accessible and raise it slowly, until you reach a better routine. Of course, I didn’t mention Veggekauppa store, pure or even going to the market place (every Monday ?) to buy local product, because I myself don’t have the time and budget for it. As also, leaving with a meat lover is adding some challenges to my food consumption. I shared with you some of my tips and I tried also to aim the effort a student could do easily. Never hesitate to challenge your friends, partner and make them taste veggie food, even if they will not adopt your food diet, it will make them think, consider and care step by step. Reducing meat consumption, eating local food and paying attention to plastic waste are key elements for a responsible consumer.

Meredith Chuzel-Marmot (Feb. 2020)
This challenge will be pushed forward by a team during session 2 so stay tuned!!

Check more veggies recipes (Feb. 2020)