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Why being a vegetarian is easier than eating meat

lazyvegetarianmealideas

Over the years I have heard so many people say that being a vegetarian is harder, more expensive and more time consuming than eating meat. “I would be vegetarian, but I can’t afford it.” Or “I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t have the time.”. I’ve never understood what the hell these people were talking about, personally. Just to be clear, I don’t care if you eat meat or not. No one is obliged to cut it out, and if you see my post on vegan ethics and the environment you will see I don’t want the world to turn vegan. However, you should get your facts straight and if you do want to make the change you shouldn’t be scared off because of misinformation, so I’ve compiled a list that will hopefully clear some things up.

1: Being vegetarian is cheaper than eating meat.

My average weekly shop…

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I’m in Australia! I have a separate travel blog, so if you’re interested and like the pictures below take a look at https://theflyingvegetarian.wordpress.com

Nimbin

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Murwillumbah

Brisbane

Gold coast

More coming soon. Just to think two weeks ago I was working in my office

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #28 Super easy uber tasty roast vegetables

This meal was probably the easiest thing I have ever made and it was also very, very tasty. It can be eaten as a main meal if your dieting or trying to cut down on gluten, and can also make a great wrap, pie or samosa filling. I made this whilst my stove was broken so this required virtually no preparation.

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What you need: Two or three medium sized potatoes cut into small pieces, one chopped red pepper, two chopped aubergines, a few chopped mushrooms, crushed garlic, half a chopped courgette, one finely chopped chili and an oven.

Spices: Fenugreek, Asafetida, chilli powder, paprika, salt, pepper, herbs de provence, rosemary, a few chilli flakes.

Note: I like my food very spicy, but if that’s not your cup of tea feel free to use less chilli or cut it out altogether.

1: Soak the chopped aubergines in cold salted water for about twenty minutes. Chop the potatoes into small bits and finely chop the rest of the vegetables

2: Drizzle a little olive oil onto a baking tray and add the garlic and spices

3: Add the vegetables and stir until they are covered in the spices. Drizzle a little more olive oil if necessary

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4: Heat the oven to around 180 degrees and bake for around 40 minutes

5: Serve with some soy sauce and enjoy 🙂

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #27 Ratatouille (optionally vegan)

My stove broke last week. For over a week now my household has had no hobs and no big stove to use. I cannot cook pasta, or rice, or boil potatoes or do any of the amazing things we modern humans can do with an electric cooker.
All we have at the moment is a very small microwave size oven. This has posed a challenge as I don’t really use the oven that much and about 80% of my recipes require at least one hot plate. However, this has forced me to cook outside of my comfort zone and over the last week I have made some very tasty vegetable based dishes. The one I am most proud of, and the one I am sharing now, is my first ever attempt at making  ratatouille. Although being able to cook the sauce on the stove first may have helped, it still turned out really well and was also a gluten free, healthy and reasonably low fat dish.

What you need: An oven, a few thinly sliced white potatoes, two thinly sliced aubergines, one thinly sliced courgette, a carton of tomato passata sauce, a few chopped mushrooms, olive oil, a thinly chopped chilli, a few cloves of crushed garlic

Spices: Salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, dried herbs de provence, chilli powder

1: Pre-soak the chopped aubergines in cold salted water for about 15-20 minutes

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2: Chop the vegetables into small, thin circles. Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking tray, add the garlic and arrange the vegetables. Ratatouille should ideally follow the nice spirally shape that makes it so pretty, but if you are lazy like me you can arrange them how you wish.

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3: Drizzle with some more olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, dried spices and a little chilli. To make the sauce without the hob, simply mix the passata, garlic, spices, salt and pepper and stir thoroughly and then pour over the vegetables.  You can also add a little cheese on top.

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4: Put it in the oven for around 45 minutes. Remember to keep an eye on it, stir it a few times and don’t stop cooking it until the potatoes are soft

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5: Enjoy with cheese (optional)

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Is ethical veganism at odds with the environmental argument?

One of the most common reasons people become vegetarian or vegan is the environmental effects of farming. One of the other most common reasons is if a person does not agree with the unnecessary and often cruel slaughter of animals for food, especially as it is perfectly possible to live a long and healthy life on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Both of these are valid reasons, and as I have been a lacto-vegetarian myself for eighteen years the purpose of this article isn’t to question or challenge vegetarianism or veganism itself and is certainly not intended to convince people not to choose a meat free lifestyle. As you can see quite clearly from my blog, and especially my food  blog https://lazyvegetarianmealideas.wordpress.com/, I am committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and am fully supportive of the vegetarian and vegan community.

What does strike me is that people who use the environmental and the ethical arguments for mass and/or worldwide veganism often don’t seem to see the implications that one (environmental) will have on the other (ethical) and I’m interested to see how ethical vegans and those who do not eat meat for purely moral reasons would respond to this. From what I have read and understood the end result of the spread of veganism i.e the aim of making the whole of the UK vegan and, eventually, the whole world, does not bode well for the animals in question. To effectively lessen our carbon footprint where livestock and farming is concerned, the only result I can see is the eventual genocide of most, if not all, farm animals. I am sure other people have considered this and I am interested in how other people would approach this point and if there is anything I have overlooked.

Some of the environmental consequences of farming animals are outlined on the PETA website and are as follows:

  • 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. According to the United Nations, a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.
  • It takes an enormous amount of water to grow crops for animals to eat… and give animals water to drink.
  • Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce many times more excrement than does the entire human population of the country. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), animals on U.S. factory farms produce about 500 million tons of manure each year.
  • Using land to grow crops for animals is vastly inefficient. It takes almost 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based (vegan) diet than it does to feed a meat-eater since the crops are consumed directly instead of being used to feed animals. According to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, it takes up to 10 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and in the United States alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow feed for animals, while only 4 million acres are producing plants for humans to eat.

Some other facts

There were 270,848,210 cows in the world in 2013, and the total number of animals killed in British slaughterhouses in 2013 was over a billion. This included 9.8 million pigs, nearly 15 million sheep, 18 million turkeys, 14 million ducks, over 945 million chickens and 2.6 million cattle. Add to that 4.5 billion fish and 2.6 billion shellfish you have a total of over 8 billion animals killed in the UK each year.
Farmed ruminant animals, including cattle and sheep, are thought to be responsible for up to a quarter of “man-made” methane emissions worldwide.
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, says the report.
According to Cowspiracy, 70 billion farmed animals are reared annually worldwide and more than 6million are killed every hour, and methane has a global warming potential 86 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame.

So what does this mean?

All of the above suggests that if the world were to adopt a vegan plant based diet it would have a positive effect on the environment. Combined with other measures such as better and more effective waste disposal, less use of fossil fuel and less destruction of our natural environment we could, in theory,  save ourselves from the inevitable destruction of our planet.
There are arguments against this which suggest that it is actually wheat farming that is destructive to our environment, and as I am in no way shape or form a scientist I can’t really give an informed opinion here, but let’s just say for arguments sake that the vegans are right and cutting out animal farming would help the environment. I can get behind that, and I can see the sense in it.

But what happens to the animals?

This is what confuses me. Ethical vegetarians who abhor the murder of innocent animals, who also tend to be against zoo’s and anything that stops an animal having a natural life, people who use cruelty free hash tags and spend a lot of time talking about all the very horrible things that farming, particularly factory farming, does to animals, when these people say that a vegan diet is good for the environment I have to wonder if they realize the implication of what they are saying. Yes, it does look like a vegan diet would be good for the environment. But that is because the animals many of us eat now wouldn’t be there anymore, not just because we stopped eating them. Note; this is all under the assumption that the ultimate goal is to get the majority of the population in this country and in the world at large to eat a vegan diet, and also that this is a matter of urgency as our environmental situation is getting steadily bleaker. This is not realistically going to happen, but I think it’s an interesting starting point.

Sure, they could all be left to fend for themselves in the ‘wild’. If that was the case, and the animals were simply left to their own devices, I doubt it would change their environmental footprint that much. The weaker ones may die and over time they may evolve, perhaps beyond recognition (as it is pretty obvious years of selective breeding and humans interfering has drastically warped what these animals used to be) , but how long would that take? They can’t just be  left to graze the fields all day like they are already doing if the reason we should become vegan is because these animals, and the land they take up, is harmful to the environment. There are far too many of them as they are mass bred to create meat, but if you are an ethical vegan who is against the killing of animals would you justify culling them to help the environment? And how many would you need to cull if that was the case? You can have wild cows, and wild goats and sheep. But you can’t allow the whole farm yard population to be wild, and you probably can’t count on a whole bunch of them naturally dying straight away. So if you are an ethical vegan, would you support the culling of the majority if a few could then be wild and live a natural life?

The transportation and systematic killing of these animals would cease if the population became vegan, so that would slash the carbon footprint somewhat, but I’m not sure how much that on it’s own would contribute whilst the animals were still out and about creating methane and eating crops. According to Cowspiracy, Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide.  Cows also apparently produce 150 billion gallons of methane a day. So, clearly, if you want to stop the environmental impact these animals have you would have to do something about the animals themselves, not simply the way they are treated and where and how they are killed.

It is also  very unrealistic to think that if we stopped eating these animals they would be allowed to take up all that land, land that could be used to build houses and probably significantly reduce the housing crisis. Cowspiracy says that livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land, so if the animals were not providing benefits for us anymore how could their continuing to take up that much space be justified? Whilst I am sure some would protest, once the majority of people stopped having a use for these animals it isn’t exactly a leap to suggest the majority wouldn’t want to allow these animals to keep occupying the land.
So if a country like the UK, or indeed the whole world did become vegan, the farm animal population would inevitably be culled, probably in a very large amount, and it seems fairly likely they would eventually be wiped out altogether as with no further use for them and with evidence that they have a negative impact on the environment I can’t really imagine an alternative solution. This would be a mass animal genocide on a very, very big scale.
I’ve read articles which say that dying would be better for farm animals than living the life they currently have, and that it is better for them all to die and stop existing than for them to live and be killed for food, but I’m not so sure. If your whole ethical basis is that animals should not be killed or mistreated, supporting something that seems to inevitably result in the genocide of a large number of that species doesn’t really make sense to me. It would be fine if you were vegan for environmental reasons, but I just can’t see how ethical veganism and environmental veganism could work together.

I agree that a lot of farming at the moment is incredibly cruel, the treatment of veal and milking cows in particular, but the alternative isn’t necessarily to get rid of it altogether. Is genocide really kinder? We can all agree that factory farming, battery chickens, cramped environments and the many many ways animals are mistreated whilst they are alive are very bad and unnecessary things. But the alternative may not be to just do away with farming and meat altogether.
Free range farming and/or rewilding is a far better alternative to factory farming and may solve the problem of what to do with the animals whilst also helping the environment. Projects like the Knepp Wildlife project give the animals considerably more freedom and allow the different species to intermingle and behave as naturally as possible, whilst allowing natural processes to take place and therefore improving the biodiversity of the land in question. This approach does not use traditional fertilizers or chemicals which, they claim,  has allowed many species of grass and wildflower to be revived.

Rewilding

Rewilding could, in theory, be used more frequently for the good of our environment and would also allow the animals far more freedom than they currently have. The animals would still be killed for food, but the process would be changed as humans would take the role of the ‘natural predator’, I.e they would kill to control the population when necessary, but rather than the systematic breeding and killing of these animals as the only reason for their existence, these animals would have natural and free lives until their death in the same way they may have had before humans took over the death.

Perhaps farm animals probably do need to be culled if we want to significantly reduce our carbon footprint, although this would just be one step in a long list of changes. Perhaps people should stop using animal products and we also killed off more farm animals to make room for all the new vegan crops. We as humans created the farming conditions that exist today, so perhaps we now need to change them in the form of rewilding or perhaps doing away with farming altogether. Perhaps it would be better to kill of three quarters of the current livestock if it means the remaining few could live in the wild and have a natural life and death.
My basic question for you is; if you are against the killing of animals in principle, what would you suggest as an alternative? Do you think it is better to kill all the farm animals off at once so they no longer exist than to kill them for food? Do you think rewilding is a better approach, or do you still oppose the killing of the animals even if they are living a natural life until their death? I’m interested to hear your opinions on the subject and especially any research or articles that may be of interest.

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #26 Return of the Zoodles

I can understand why someone would be skeptical about zoodles, but please try to keep an open mind here. They are better than you would think, but it’s true that they don’t completely pass for real pasta. The annoying thing about zoodles is that when you cook them they shrink a lot, so to get enough you really need to use at least two courgettes and even then you may end up with  less than you want, and it’s also less filling than regular pasta so you may need to eat more to avoid snacking on crisps. That being said, herby zoodles with pasta sauce and cheese is a really tasty meal that looks and feels decadent when really it’s just vegetables and optional cheese, so if you are trying to be healthy but have an aversion to healthy food you should definitely give it a try.

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What you need: At least two courgettes, a spiralizer (or ready made zoodles), garlic, olive oil, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms, two chopped peppers, olives, sundried tomatoes, a chopped white onion, two chopped chillies (optional)

Herbs: Basil (fresh or dried), oregano, herb de provence (or your choice of Italian herbs), chilli flakes, salt, pepper

1: Get two pots (one a bit larger than the other) and heat olive oil in both. After a minute or two add garlic and fry on a medium heat until fragrant (but make sure it doesn’t burn). Then add some basil and chopped chillies and cook for a few more minutes.

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2: Add the mushrooms and peppers to one pot and saute for a few minutes. Spiralize the courgettes if necessary and add to the other pot and stir with the basil and garlic. Add some more herbs to both pots and stir.

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3: Turn down the heat on the mushrooms and peppers and add the tinned tomatoes. Add salt and pepper and cook for around ten minutes whilst stirring occasionally and making sure it doesn’t boil.

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4: Cook the zoodles on a medium heat for ten minutes, making sure to stir occasionally and add extra herbs if desired. After the ten minutes is up turn off the heat and toss with the olives and sundried tomatoes

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5: Add cheese (optional) and enjoy your fake decadence.

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #25 Chickpea and Kale Delight

I love chickpeas. Like, seriously. I could write a sonnet about chickpeas. Chickpeas are cheap, tasty and protein filled beauties and I don’t know what I would do without them, and they are also fabulously cheap! This recipe is my take on the more traditional spinach and chickpea combo; kale has a slightly sweeter taste, but I prefer it personally.

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What you need: A can of chickpeas, about half a pack of kale, olive oil, an onion.

Spices: Asafoetida, fenugreek, tumeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, salt, pepper, chilli flakes

1: Heat oil in a large saucepan and add some asafoetida and mustard seeds. Heat the oil over a medium heat for a few minutes (chop the onion in the mean time) until it becomes fragrant. Then turn up the heat, add the onions and spices and fry for five-seven minutes

2: Add the kale and sauté on a medium heat for a few minutes. Then add the chickpeas and some more spices and fry for about five minutes

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3: Turn down the heat, add a small amount of water (literally a few splashes) and cook for about ten minutes

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4: Enjoy with my delightful sauté aubergines (coming soon)

 

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #24 Tofu stir fry

I know I’ve posted several stir fry recipes in the past, but this one was so tasty I just had to share it. Rather then go through the long process of drying, frying and re frying the tofu I bought some ready marinaded Cauldron tofu pieces. They tend to be slightly more expensive and a bit harder to find, but as they are so much quicker to cook it’s worth it, and they are far harder to cook wrong and end up soggy and horrible in the way tofu sometimes does.
Stir fries are great because its such a quick and easy way to cook your favorite vegetables, and as this meal has the protein factor it’s an all round easy, healthy and tasty vegan meal ideal to ward off the winter germs.

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What you need: A large frying pan or wok, olive oil, one large chopped onion, one pack of ready marinaded Cauldron tofu, a few chopped broccoli florets, half a pack of trimmed mangetout, some chopped cabbage leaves, a few handfuls of chopped mushrooms, two finely chopped chilies, basmati rice. I would normally add peppers and bean sprouts, but unfortunately I was too lazy to go shopping so had to make do with the contents of my fridge. If you have any peppers/other vegetables lying around feel free to add those.

Spices: Salt, Pepper, Chinese 5 spice, Vegetarian stir fry sauce, Soy Sauce, Sesame seeds

1: Heat olive oil in a large wok/frying pan and add the sesame seeds.  Lightly fry them for a few minutes (or as long as it takes to chop the onion), then add the onion and fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a low heat and saute whilst you chop the rest of the vegetables

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2: Add the marinaded tofu and a few sprinkles of Chinese 5 spice, a few dollops of stir fry sauce and soy sauce and a few more sesame seeds, and fry for about 5-7 minutes.

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3: Whilst your frying the tofu, cook the rice as per cooking instructions. To make sure the rice doesn’t go horribly wrong simply pour the basmati rice and a pinch of salt into a small pot, then and add boiling water until it just covers the rice. Cover with a lid and keep on a high heat until the water starts boiling, then turn to the lowest heat and keep covered for around 10 minutes.

4: After frying the tofu for 5-7 minutes, add the rest of the vegetables and stir fry on a high heat for about four minutes whilst stirring constantly. Add some more of the spices and soy/stir fry sauce to taste, but don’t add so much that you drown out the taste of the vegetables

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5: Serve and enjoy

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #23 Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

When you think of vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese,  do you think of Quorn?

A lot of people tend to assume that if you are making a sauce that would normally have meat in it, such as spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne, then you must be substituting it with Quorn. The idea that Quorn is the essence of vegetarianism, and all vegetarians must eat the stuff can be a little annoying when every place you go to throws Quorn at you because, clearly, that’s all vegetarians eat. As a lacto-vegetarian Quorn isn’t particularly appealing to me, and even without the egg factor it normally tastes a bit wrong. For those of us who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about this genetically modified mushroom hybrid, there is always soy mince. However, from my experience it often looks like bird food and has a disturbingly chewy texture. I am sure there are better vegetarian mince alternatives out there, but if you haven’t got the time (or the money) to look for them remember that lentils are not only the right shape for traditionally mince based dishes but they are also tasty, healthy and very cheap.

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What you need: A tin of green lentils (I don’t think dry would work in this case), two tins of chopped tomatoes, half a pack of small chopped mushrooms, a chopped red pepper, one finely chopped chilli, a few basil leaves, one chopped onion, a few crushed garlic cloves, olive oil.
Spices: Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Chilli Power, a sprinkle of chilli flakes

Note: This recipe is really cheap to make. One tin of lentils is around £0.55 and the chopped tomato is around £0.35. Your average decent shop bought jar of bolognese sauce is going to be around £1.00. Even if you don’t normally cook from scratch, just give it a try. You will save money and gain on taste.

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1: Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and chop the onion and crush the garlic. Drop a little  garlic in the heated oil and if it sizzles (but doesn’t burn, don’t let it burn!) it is hot enough for the onions. Add onions/garlic and fry for about five minutes. Then turn to a lower heat and cook for a few further minutes until translucent.

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2: Add the chilli and basil and cook on a medium heat for about two minutes, then add the peppers and mushrooms and sprinkle in the spices. Fry for a bit longer to let the peppers soften then add the lentils, stir together, and fry for about five minutes, then transfer to a low heat.

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3: Add the tinned tomatoes and some more spices, stir and cook on a low heat for about ten minutes/whilst cooking the spaghetti. Make sure it doesn’t start to boil as that will impair the taste

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4: Cook the spaghetti as per pack instructions. To add some extra flavor to your spaghetti add a stock cube to the water and remember to salt!

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5: Enjoy with cheese and olives!

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Lazy Vegetarian Meal Ideas #22 Zoodle Stir fry

Image-1 (5)I’m not going to lie, I love grains. I love bread, pasta and rice and I doubt I’ll be anywhere near gluten free for the foreseeable future, although gluten free pasta and bread is actually pretty good. However, I also overdid the eating and overeating and yet more eating at Christmas, so in an attempt to lose 50000 stone and also fight off the winter cold that’s been trying to take me down for a few weeks now, I’ve made an all vegetable stir fry.  I’ve always been a little dubious about zoodles; although courgettes are good, surely they can’t pass for noodles. However, when fully cooked and drizzled with soya sauce they are actually pretty good and take on a noodle like appearance and texture.

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What you need: 3/4 or one whole courgette/zucchini,  chopped mushrooms, two chopped peppers, two chopped chillies, half a packet of bean sprouts, half a packet of trimmed mangetout, one chopped onion, one spoonful of garlic paste, a few chopped broccoli florets, olive oil, a spiralizer, a wok or large frying pan.

Spices: A few dollops of Chinese five spice, a sprinkle of crushed chillies, pepper, soy sauce, vegetarian stir fry sauce, pre-made packet of black bean sauce (optional)

1: Spiralize the courgette/zucchini so it takes on the shape of regular noodles, then set aside

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2: Heat oil in wok/frying pan and chop the onion; spoon in some garlic paste, add the onion and fry for a minute, then add the chinese five spice and fry for a few more minutes. Turn to a low heat and continue to cook whilst chopping the other vegetables

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3: When the vegetables are chopped, turn up the heat on the onions and add the peppers, chillies, mushrooms, broccoli and mangetouts and bean sprouts, fry for a minute or two then add the stir fry sauce, soy sauce and (if using) the black bean stir in, then add the zoodles and fry for a few more minutes.

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4: Enjoy, you healthy fiend.

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