Billy & Jack’s Vegetarian BBQ [VIDEO]

Billy & Jack’s Veggie BBQ: Better for Your Health, Your Pocket, and the Planet

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, This World Can: challenged Masterchef runners-up Billy and Jack to serve up a mouth-watering vegetarian BBQ. These two self-confessed food-geeks teamed up after the show in an unlikely bromance, and now share their unique style of cooking through their popular supper clubs at the London Cooking Project. Best known for quirky dishes like chicory, octopus and coriander cheesecake, this week they share their culinary expertise to show you how to throw together a super tasty, super easy, meatless BBQ feast.

Whether you are starting out on your vegetarian journey, trying to reduce meat, or are simply veggie-curious, their easy, tasty recipes are sure to inspire you. So, weather permitting, what better way to celebrate National Vegetarian Week than by donning your apron, grabbing those tongs, and inviting your friends over for a veggie extravaganza?

National Vegetarian Week runs from 15-21 May, and is all about encouraging you to eat vegetarian food for seven days. But why is this important? Well, eating meat is linked with a host of health risks. Cancer, heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes are all associated with the consumption of red and processed meat. This is due to the high content of saturated fat, as well as the salt, colours and preservatives added to many processed meat products.

On the other hand, a vegetarian diet is associated with better health and longevity. Now, that doesn’t mean living exclusively on potato chips and cheese, or vegan junk foods like oreos, but rather including more plant-based whole-foods into your diet. Fresh vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, beans, nuts and seeds are all packed with vitamins and minerals that support your health. Their high fibre content keeps your digestive system healthy and reduces your risk of colon cancer. Their antioxidants protect your cells from free-radicals and strengthen your immune system. Hundreds of studies show that a vegetarian diet can lower your risk of chronic illness, obesity, and heart disease.

If you’re watching your weight, eating a diet that consists mostly of plant-based foods will help you shed those pounds—in fact a study by Imperial College London found that reducing the amount of meat you eat can prevent long-term weight gain. Forget the low-calorie lasagne, just go meatless a few days a week.

In our protein-obsessed culture, one of the biggest concerns for people looking into vegetarianism is the potential lack of protein. Well, worry not. Plant-based foods are packed with protein. Quinoa, beans and peas are some of the best sources, as well as tofu, nuts and seeds, and even leafy greens. What’s more, these foods are cheaper. In fact, a vegetarian diet costs about half the price of a meaty diet!

But it’s more than just about our health and our budget. Going vegetarian, or at least reducing your meat consumption, is one of the best ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet. The meat industry packs a hefty punch when it comes to the environment—and demand for meat is growing. According to the World Health Organization, industrial animal farming generates a fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions—more than all transportation combined—thereby playing a significant role in the acceleration of climate change. Its role in deforestation and groundwater contamination is also well documented. Cowspiracy is famous for bringing some of the more mind-boggling statistics to popular consciousness. Like the fact nearly half the world’s land surface is used to “grow” livestock. Or that it takes nearly 5,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef. A kilo of tofu, in comparison, only requires 450 litres. By cooking up a veggie burger instead of opting for a quarter pounder, you’re saving over 3000 litres of water (the equivalent of over 170 5-minute showers).

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Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is essential to meeting the targets set by the Paris Agreement, in order to mitigate against the worst consequences of climate change. The production of meat requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of beef. By comparison, it only takes 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. The statistics speak for themselves, and studies by respected establishments such as the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University and the United Nations confirm that a vegetarian diet is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than a meat-based diet.

Eating more vegetarian food isn’t just better for your health and your pocket. With world population soaring, impending water shortages, and the pressures of climate change, the time is now for us to change our habits to heal the planet. The good news is that you can make a huge difference simply by going meat-less and swapping that beef burger with a veggie alternative.

A vegetarian diet doesn’t have to be bland or boring. In fact, it’s tastier, more satisfying, more colourful than you might think! Have you been inspired by Billy and Jack’s veggie BBQ? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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This project was sponsored by Steve’s Leaves.

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