Tips for Starting a “Meatless Monday”

The average American diet is incredibly meat-heavy. While animal products offer a wide variety of nutrients, like protein and iron, there is also evidence from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the average person’s health, as well as the environment, would benefit from just a little less meat consumption. With how extensive culinary arts programs are, there’s no doubt that you’ve learned how to make flavorful and interesting meals that don’t include meat. If you’re interested in trying a more vegetarian diet, consider cutting out this food group once a week. Here are a few ways to have a delicious “meatless Monday.”

Be more generous with your eggs
Many people feel like their meals aren’t complete without a main dish of protein. They may also feel that eggs are solely a breakfast food. However, we can expel both of those myths by working more eggs into your dinner dishes. This way, you’ll get the protein you crave at supper time, even without the meat. Incorporate some egg into your veggie stir fry, or even top your chilaquiles with a fried egg. You’d be surprised at how much you can do with eggs and how great they taste in a variety of dishes.

Use veggies with different textures
If you’re eating a dish that incorporates vegetables, be sure to use a variety of different kinds so you don’t even realize that the meat is missing. For example, rather than making a chicken pot pie, make a veggie pot pie with squash, potatoes, beans, carrots, celery and any other ingredient you desire. All of these veggies have different textures when they’re cooked, so you won’t feel as if you’re just eating spoonfuls of vegetables. Not that there’s anything wrong with spoonfuls of vegetables, but if that’s all you wanted you could just eat a salad.

Soups are a great way to go veggie while still maintaining flavor.

Make meat dishes without
There are plenty of “meaty” vegetables out there that can easily be used as a substitute. You can go the classic route with an eggplant Parmesan dish instead of chicken Parmesan, or be a little more creative with a barbecue Portobello cap burger. If you don’t want to go all-veg, though, you can use a variety of grains, like quinoa or freekeh, to give your dishes that typically use meat a little more bulk. Try a “grainloaf” instead of a meatloaf. It may take a little bit of trial and error.

Experiment with ethnic cuisines
Not every culture focuses so heavily on meat as America does. For example, some of Thailand, China and Greece’s most popular meals don’t even use meat or only contain it in small amounts. Instead of attempting to stick to making your favorite American dishes meatless, get a little more daring and delve into ethnic cuisines. Chances are, you’ll be exposed to a variety of seasonings and spices that bring a lot of extra flavor to your meals, even without the meat.

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