September 20, 2009 by Kate Heyhoe
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
- Hominy and Kidney Bean Chili
- Quinoa Pilaf (and Quinoa with Pecans)
- Polenta Lasagne with Spinach, Zucchini, Herbs, and Fontina
- Leek and Mushroom Strudel