There are many reasons why eating less meat is good for the planet. I won't go into all of them, but a lot is centered around the large amount of natural resources used to raise animals solely for food. Please realize I'm not talking about small family farms that enlist healthy agricultural practices. Rather, I'm concerned about large factory farming and the meatpacking industry. Practices, such as cutting down forests to maintain an eventually unsustainable amount of red meat consumption. Yes, people can shop at local farmers markets, but not every person has time or access to that type of shopping. Plus, those products are much more expensive. It's therefore more economical to rather reduce your meat intake (not necessarily fully stop, but at least cut down) and focus on other sources of proteins instead. It can also be fun to experiment in the kitchen and get yourself out of the meat/grain/veg formula. I'll admit I use this combination on nights, or weeks, that I'm busy and just need to get dinner on the table. But it's always more fun when I mix things up!
Enter Weekday Vegetarian (100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat). The book is written by Jenny Rosenstrach, the founder of Dinner A Love Story. I am really connected to her feelings about food and family - the idea that you can show love through cooking and the importance of eating a meal, aka breaking bread together on a regular basis. Like her, my family tries to eat dinner together almost every night and that routine is extremely important to me. So I listened when Jenny started talking about going vegetarian, at least during the week. If you've been reading GreenLifeNH for a while, you'll know that Hannah is the longtime vegetarian of our duo, while I'm always aspiring to "greenify" my life and habits. Going all or nothing can be hard for me, as I'm someone who lives in the gray area. Half of my wardrobe is used, while I still shop at Old Navy from time to time. I use Reel toilet paper, and bulk dish soap, but can't get rid of my chemical-laden skin cream (I know, I know). It's a process. So my family has now instituted some vegetarian nights into our rotation and I always aim to eat at least one meat-free meal a day.
There are many fun recipes in the book. If I had to be honest, it's not for someone who eats gluten-free, as many of the options rotate around breads and pasta. However there are lots of other gems as well. I personally love her "Spicy Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Greens (seen above)," "Crispy Cabbage Pancakes" and "Mushroom-Bok Choy Packed Fried Rice." The "Cheesy Bean Bake" is next on my list. In the back of the book, Rosenstrach also includes a convenient chart that helps you use-up items in your fridge. For example, have some extra mushrooms? There's a recipe for that! Overall, really recommend if you're looking for some new recipes and ways to change up your dinner routine. Plus, the Earth will thank you!
PS Have you heard about this other cookbook by a local Concord mother? Lots of good vegetarian and seasonal recipes in this one, too. Most importantly, the proceeds go towards a very important cause.