PlantBased meets Max La Manna

Max La Manna is an award winning author, zero-waste chef and host of BBC Earth food shows. He’s on a mission to get us to think about what we are eating, where it comes from, and what happens when we waste. PlantBased caught up with him to find out more about what he’s doing to spread the word about low-waste cooking, and reducing our consumption of animal products.

Hi Max! Tell us a little bit about why you are so passionate about food waste.

Hello! I am passionate about food waste because there is so much joy to be found in making the most of what we have and finding fresh and exciting ways to feed and look after ourselves, our families, and our communities. More widely, it’s a good way to educate on the second life of products.  I’m still very much learning, so just sharing delicious low-waste recipes using plant-based ingredients as I go!

We know there are some ingredients that are easy to use in their entirety, without creating waste (e.g. potatoes). But what ingredients would our readers be most surprised to learn are versatile enough to use the whole thing?

Where to start! I love using broccoli stalks for fresh pesto. If you steam the stalk for about 5-10 minutes, and then blend with toasted pine nuts, olive oil, heaps of fresh basil, fresh lemon, salt, pepper and (every vegan’s favourite) nutritional yeast, it makes the pesto super creamy. Perfect on top of any pasta!

You’re working with The Unbelievable ALT. – what is it about it as a meat-free product that you love so much?

Yes! The Unbelievable ALT. are so great because they’re all about making eating a more flexitarian diet more accessible for everyone. The Unbelievable ALT. isn’t meat, but it’s for meat lovers. So, for those who want to cut down on their meat-intake, they really show that it doesn’t have to be difficult at all, and that you don’t have to miss out on any of the texture, taste or flavour that people love.

Many people are looking at flexitarian diets as the perfect bridge between eating meat and animal products with every meal, and going fully vegan. What do you see as the benefits of a more flexible way of eating?

When it comes to creating positive change, we need as many people as possible doing what they can within their means. I think flexitarianism is a really impactful way to get more of us taking the steps towards a fully plant-based diet. It also feels really inclusive, and allows those who need it, the space to join and just do the best they can, making adjustments and figuring out what suits them as they go.

What tips do you have for people who are looking to reduce their meat/animal product intake?

You don’t have to jump straight in the deep end and taking smaller steps such as having one or two meat-free days a week can really help shift your lifestyle. The Unbelievable ALT. is a great place to start when looking for meat alternatives, because the texture is so similar to the real thing and it’s got a nice nutritional profile, packed full of protein and nutrients. This means that meat lovers can have a near replica of the real thing while trying to cut down, which is a win-win!

As we’re approaching what we all hope is an end to lockdown here in the UK, what’s on the menu for a summer get-together?

I love this question!  I think we should start with a really lovely sautéed asparagus and pea salad, as both of those ingredients are in season at the moment. All they need is a really simple seasoning of good quality olive oil, coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the juice and zest of a fresh lemon. For a main course, let’s make some vegan sushi, but using some British quinoa instead of rice. I love packing my nori sheets (seaweed is SO good for us plant-based folk) with shards of carrot and cucumber, sautéed spinach, some sticky baked tamari sweet potato and a spicy homemade cashew mayonnaise.  For dessert, we’re having rhubarb crumble with a crunchy oat and nut topping and vanilla bean ice cream.

Get Max’s recipe for Beefless and Broccoli Lo Mein – made in collaboration with The Unbelievable ALT.

Max is working with The Unbelievable ALT., the no compromise meat free alternative for meat lovers that tastes and bites just like real meat. With its versatility and reduced impact on the environment, it is the perfect solution for those wanting to cut down on their meat intake. For more information on The Unbelievable ALT. visit or @unbelievablealt on Instagram. 

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