AN Aussie celebrity chef is calling on his countrymen to become "blenditarians", reducing their meat consumption and upping their mushroom intake.
The call is part of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA) recent "Mushrooms + Mince = The Blend" consumer campaign involving television chef Adrian Richardson lending his name and expertise to fungi cooking.
Curiously, Mr Richardson's career to date has focused heavily on red meat, rising to fame as the star of TV shows, Good Chef Bad Chef, Secret Meat Business and Boys Weekend.
He is also the author of MEAT and owner of La Luna Restaurant in Melbourne which is famous for serving indulgent meaty dishes.
The campaign encourages all Australians to cook healthier, more plant-forward meals at home, using a combination of mushrooms and minced meat - coining the phrase "Blenditarian."
The AMGA has launched a new website (www.blenditarian.com.au) which contains recipes, cooking videos and Mr Richardson's Blended Recipe eBook.
But before pro-red meat groups start penning angry letters, Mr Richardson said it wasn't about telling people they can't eat meat.
"Meat is delicious. But if you are trying to feed the kids healthier meals or if you want to reduce the amount of meat you eat, it can be confusing on what to cook," he said.
"The Blend is simple. All you do, is finely dice white mushrooms and swap out some mince for mushrooms in your spaghetti, burgers and tacos.
"I've been blending mushrooms with mince for years, not just because it's healthier, because it makes burgers and meatballs taste meatier and juicier."
Meat and Livestock Australia reports that the average Australian eats 25kg of beef a year, with 30 per cent of it minced.
However according to Food Frontier, the number of Australian meat-reducers or "flexitarians" has grown rapidly in recent years, with one in three (32pc) Australians now actively trying to reduce their meat consumption - with the main motivator being health.
Seniors are a leading the way, with 43pc of meat-reducers being baby boomers.
Dietitian Jane Freeman (APD) said the rise of alternate eating patterns opened an opportunity for mushrooms to be blended in minced meat recipes, to help Aussies reach their flexitarian health goals.
"By substituting a portion of mince for mushrooms, the nutritional value of meals is instantly boosted, along with a reduction of fat and sodium," Ms Freeman said.
"Mushrooms also have a unique advantage due to their umami flavour (which is the same flavour profile of meat); by adding mushrooms to minced meat dishes, the 'meaty' flavour is proven to be enhanced, and less salt is needed - this a benefit no other vegetable can claim."
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