A Year of Less Meat

Last year, as a casual sort of a New Year’s resolution, I decided to eat more vegetables. I figured that the only way to do it was to learn some more interesting vegetable recipes, so I bought Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and combed through it and some other favorite recipe sources.

I didn’t make any big promises or specific goals about vegetables. My plan was simple: if I made the vegetables the main event of the meal, instead of an afterthought, then meat would become secondary, and the vegetables wouldn’t be a chore to eat.

I don’t ever envision myself as becoming a complete vegetarian. There are too many meat dishes that I truly love. But I’m moving toward saving those as a special treat and skipping the meat when it isn’t anything special—for health and also because of a growing concern about how our meat is produced and what it takes to produce it. The family (husband, two kids) has been surprisingly flexible with the new recipe testing.

Besides How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (HTCEV) I’ve especially enjoyed the blog 101 Cookbooks and Foster’s Market Cookbook (sometimes altering FMC recipes to cut the meat content). Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood cookbooks are also a great place to start if you’re looking to reduce your meat intake.

The collage above includes our favorite recipes from 2011. Many of them I blogged about. Maybe they’ll inspire you.

From left to right, starting from the top:

1. Spicy Cauliflower  from 101cookbooks

2. Baked Rice and Red Kidney Beans, Jamaican Style from HTCEV

3. Spicy Baked Chickpeas from HTCEV

4. Simple Bean Tostadas—filling from Healthy Latin Cooking

5. Tortilla Soup from 101cookbooks

6. Curried Cauliflower with Cashews, inspired by 101 cookbooks but really I just followed the directions on the curry paste package and added toasted cashews.

7. Beer-Glazed Black Beans from HTCEV

8. Tuscan White Beans with Pasta from HTCEV

9. Pasta-Chickpea Salad with Tomato and Basil, my own creation

10. Falafel in pita, from a falafel mix, with Tahini Sauce from HTCEV

11. Tabbouleh made according to mix directions, with vegetables and Yogurt Sauce from HTCEV

12. Strawberry-Peach Agua Fresca

13. Rustic Pine Nut Sauce from HTCEV

14. Pumpkin Soup (with chipotle/ adobo sauce swirled in) from the butternut squash soup recipe in the William-Sonoma Soup book

15. White Bean Chili from Foster’s Market Cookbook (minus the chicken)

16. Pa Jun (Korean style veggie pancakes) from HTCEV

17. Red Lentil Soup with Lemon from 101cookbooks

18. Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic from HTCEV

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12 thoughts on “A Year of Less Meat

  1. Hey Em! Some of these look really yummy! I can definitley eat a meal with all vegetables and be content but hubby thinks it is not a meal if there is no meat and he does most of the cooking which makes me happy. I will have to sneak some of them in our repertoire as “side dishes” 🙂

    • I know what you mean about husbands and meat. Mine was surprised that he doesn’t miss it most of the time—and of course he doesn’t eat lunch with me 🙂 Definitely some of these recipes could be great side dishes or could be accompanied by a side dish of chicken or other meat. Some of the soup recipes I serve with optional shredded chicken. The most filling ones are the bean or bean and rice dishes. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. I started this about five years ago, after I read The Omnivore’s Dilemna. I make a concerted effort to not at meat more than once a day. I used to have no meat days frequently (and often purely by accident!) but since Jordan now is the cook in the house and he can’t do pasta (no gluten) which was a lot of my vegetarian meals, it’s not actually as often.

    • So nice you have a cook! We had to do no wheat for awhile and it was very hard, but I learned a lot of rice dishes! Trader Joe’s makes some gluten-free pasta that’s not bad, too. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. i am definitely going to check some of these out! we have done the same thing at our house. less meat…more veggies. recently i have starting cooking quinoa some…there are some great vegetarian recipes using that…might want to check it out.

  4. I just got my very own copy of Mollie’s cookbook The Vegetables I Can’t Live Without and i love, love, love it. I had a brief flirtation with vegetarianism years ago, and the veggie main dishes just stuck. I only cook meat once or twice a week now, and the husband doesn’t even mind!

    • I will have to take a look at that book. I do love Mollie K. Yeah, I’m surprised my husband doesn’t mind, either. He does get a full hot lunch every day, and he’s always been willing to try all kinds of foods, so he had that going for him to start with. He’s pretty great 🙂 I think for him the main thing is—-is it filling? and does it have a lot of flavor?

  5. Hi there, I came across your blog after seeing your Anda dress on Burda. I’m also thinking of making it – I downloaded the pattern ages ago and still haven’t made it! Anyway, this was really a comment about cooking with veg. My boy gave me a beautiful book for Christmas, River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. It followed the rather lovely tv series (one of many from River Cottage). It’s an excellent book, one in which veg are the stars of the show. It doesn’t claim to be a vegetarian recipe book, HFW is a carnivore! It does exactly what you described, focuses on veg as the main part of the meal rather than meat. We have had a heap of meals using it already. Delish. If you check it out I hope you enjoy and it inspires you further.

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