Julie Goodwin: Eating less meat and dairy

By Julie Goodwin – Oxfam GROW ambassador

It’s no secret that keeping livestock for meat and dairy products is a contributing factor to global warming.  So it naturally follows that less meat and dairy means less of the damaging greenhouse emissions that these products help to cause.

However, meat and dairy are a deeply embedded part of our Australian culture and of most people’s daily lives.  So what to do?  For some dedicated souls, the answer will be veganism or vegetarianism.  But for many this is not a choice they are willing to make.  I number myself among those.

I’m a big believer in the power of making positive decisions every day – taking small steps in the right direction.  And in the power of one person to make a difference – both by their actions, and by inspiring others to take achievable and sustainable actions as well.

So even if you’re not ready to give up meat and dairy, these are still steps that can be incorporated into everyday life that will have a positive impact on the planet.

Reducing the amount of meat in your diet doesn’t mean replacing it with bland or unpalatable food.  There are tons of great recipes that don’t require meat.  Even my big, meat-loving teenage boys are happy to eat the veggie meals I plate up.

Take the Oxfam GROW Challenge and see if you can replace a couple – or a few – meals per week with a meat-free option, and even a bit more challenging (in my view) – try going dairy-free as well.  Here are a couple of my recipes to get you started.

Mushroom sang choy bow


To cook this quantity of mushrooms successfully, you will need to use a very large frypan or chef’s pan.  If you only have a small frypan, cook the mushrooms in 2 batches.

Prep time: 15 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

500g button mushrooms, diced small

1 brown onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tin bamboo shoots, chopped

1 tin water chestnuts, chopped

¼ cup oyster sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons cornflour

8 iceberg lettuce leaves

½ bunch shallots (spring onions), white and pale green parts chopped

1 cup bean sprouts

½ cup coriander leaves

Toasted sesame seeds or crispy fried shallots, to serve.

Heat oil in a large chef’s pan over a medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to soften and “collapse”.  Add the onion and garlic.  After a few minutes, the mushrooms will release quite a lot of liquid.  It is important to keep cooking them until most of that liquid evaporates again.

Once the mushroom mixture is fairly dry, add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts.  Add the oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Dissolve the cornflour in ¼ cup water and stir into the mixture.  Cook for another couple of minutes until the mushroom mixture is glossy and heated through.

To serve, place spoonfuls of mushroom mixture into the lettuce leaves.  Top with shallots, bean sprouts and sesame seeds or crispy shallots.

Julie Goodwin: Eating less meat and dairy

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Each month from April to September, we will profile a different principle from the GROW Method with information, inspiration, recipes, and delicious competitions. Be part of a growing movement of people who want to use their everyday buying and cooking power to create sustained change in the world.

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Mushroom soup

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1kg button mushrooms, stalks removed, finely sliced

¼ cup plain flour

1.25 litres chicken-style stock

¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper

½ teaspoon salt

In a large, heavy based pot, place oil and heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and gently sauté until translucent, soft and fragrant.

Add the mushrooms and stir through.  Turn up the heat and sauté until the mushrooms are soft and brown.  This will take about ten minutes – the mushrooms firstly will take up all the moisture from the oil, then they will exude their own juices, and eventually those will evaporate and the mushrooms will start to brown.  This is the point that you want to reach before proceeding.

Add the flour and stir well.  Add the stock, about half a cup at a time, stirring all the time.  When all the stock is added, bring to the simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve into warmed bowls with good sourdough toast.