Less Meat

September 20, 2009 by  


Trendwatch: Less Meat is Hip

By Kate Heyhoe

Get ready: a new wave of cookbooks geared at cutting back (or cutting out) meat will soon hit the shelves. Hurrah! The reduced-meat diet is seriously catching on. Hopefully, we can all adapt the meat-free trend into our daily lifestyle, another step towards making “being green” into the new normal.


This month, I’ve picked four basic meat-free recipes to inspire you (one per week), no matter how busy you are. And I’ve got a handful of main dish recipes where only a handful of meat is used.

People ask me all the time: what are the fastest, easiest ways to go greener in the kitchen? Simple: consume less meat. Eating less meat shrinks your cookprint in big ways, reducing a whole chain of emissions that start at the farm, ride into your store, and end up at your table.

As I mention in Cooking Green, producing a single serving of beef requires more than 2600 gallons of water. Plus all the other global warming issues, like methane release and pollutants from livestock and factory farms. Plant based foods are the way to go, with loads of variety for wonderful flavor, texture, and nutrition: grains, nuts, leafy greens, root vegetables, legumes, and all the other fruits and veggies that fill our world. Don’t forget sea vegetables too, which are rich in nutrients, easy to prepare and great tasting, like my Wakame Salad.

Making a vow to eat less meat doesn’t mean committing to a total vegetarian diet, unless you want to. A meal that uses small amounts of meat as flavoring is still a great step to take if it replaces a meatier meal, where the steak, chop or chicken breast was at the center of the plate. Think fried rice, stir-fry, sausage and beans, pizza, paella, tamales, tacos and enchiladas, quiche and such.

Less is more, as they say. Gradually move from meaty meals to meat-free meals most days of the week. Cook fewer steaks and roasts, and more grains, beans and pastas. (And if you’re already a vegetarian, invite your carnivorous friends over and show them how to cook meat-free with style.) To get started, try the simple but delicious recipes below, from leading cookbook authors; they’re good templates, too, to customize with your own favorite ingredients. (And check out our archives of Pasta, Risotto and You for scads more recipes.)


DIY Basic Meat-Free Main Courses
Meat-Reduced and Fish Recipes


One Response to “Less Meat”

  1. akavivian on October 4th, 2009 8:40 am

    I made a radical change in my diet about two years ago–about the time there was so much in the news about the increase in grain prices, primarily corn and rice. At the same time, there were also a number of news stories about the difficulties of eating on the national average food stamp budget of $21 per week per person.

    Since I had recently experiienced a major change in my financial situation, I decided to go ahead and see what I could do to reduce my grain consumption (which, of course, included reducing my meat consumption) while saving money and eating a more nutritious diet. Most days I eat meat once day, and have beans for lunch. I also eat large quantities of low-cost and low-carbohydrate vegetables such as greens and cabbage.

    Two years later, I’ve lost over 60 pounds, my complexion is improved, I don’t have indigestion all the time, and I just plain feel better. I’m eating a wide variety of food I really enjoy, and I’m spending less. My biggest gripe is that I have to go and get all new clothes for work again this year because the things I bought last year are too big.