Count Us In this summer to tackle climate change

Mango, coconut and coriander curry from Plantopia.

Mango, coconut and coriander curry from Plantopia. - Credit: Plantopia

We have all had a very strange year or two, and as much as I like to tell you about cakes and lovely places to eat out, we do need to talk about the elephant in the room. Our climate. It’s a huge and daunting topic but there are easy steps that we can all take to help improve the situation.

Sustainable St Albans are taking part in a national idea called Count Us In. There are 16 steps that we take (or at least take some of them!) to cut carbon emissions, ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in November in the UK. Between now and then, we can all make a few changes, and as there are 60 million of us in the UK, those small changes will add up!

So, where does this fit in the food column? Three of the steps are about food. First up, eat more plants. Mass meat production has been identified as one area we could cut back on to help with carbon emissions.

‘Producing one joint of beef accounts for 85kg of carbon pollution – the same as flying from London to Paris.’ That’s a pretty sobering statistic. So could you ditch the burger or steak when eating out?

Tabure, for example, do amazing vegetarian food, from stuffed courgette flowers to fava truffle humus. Perfect for this hot weather too. Thai Rack on George Street do great tofu dishes, if you have never tried tofu before.


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Wagamamas do an extensive vegan menu, including sticky ‘ribs’ – a great way to try plant proteins if you are new to this, and very popular with families as we head into the holidays.

If you are not sure about cutting out meat and fish due to ‘what will I cook/eat!’ you could try to make a switch at lunch time – that can be an easier step than changing evening family meals. Stock up on tins of cooked butterbeans, black lentils, red chickpeas and creamy Borlotti beans to add to summer salads. Black beans are great too, and are lovely in wraps and pittas with tomatoes and lime for a Mexican-inspired lunch.

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You can also chuck cooked beans and pulses into soups or make a simple chilli that you can eat on its own, or pile onto baked potatoes. Beans and pulses are much cheaper than packs of salmon and chicken and tins are more recycled than plastic packets.

Why not invest in a new cookbook? The Green Roasting Tin is a very easy book to use – you just put the ingredients in a tray and put in the oven. Dinner sorted! Use any leftovers for lunch the next day. Fancy a takeaway? Plantopia is based in St Albans and deliver to the local area. Why not try their mango, coconut and coriander curry this summer?

Eating more seasonal food is another step. This should be pretty easy in the UK where we grow so much amazing produce, particularly in the summer. Switching to a veg box is an easy way to do this, and prices start from £10.99 and you can swap items, skip weeks and you cut back on packaging too.

Shopping at Carpenters, Smallford Farm shop and at the markets is an easy step too. How about fruit picking at Hawkswick Lodge Farm?

Cutting back on food waste is another step. What is the one thing you throw out most often each week? Bread? Milk? Soft fruits? Could you make more use of your freezer or only buy on the day you need it? It might seem a small thing but if you imagine the 150,000 households of the St Albans area doing the same, it can add up.

Head to www.count-us-in.org for is more info on ‘why’ it is important to take these steps and to add when you have taken a step. One of the steps is ‘Speak up at work’ which I am doing here with all our readers! We all share responsibility for our planet, so get involved!

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