It's no secret that many of us eat meat, and enjoy eating meat. But we also recognize that it's easy to fall into a trap of putting it at the center of every meal - the way we ate growing up. Now we're pushing meat off the plate on a semi-regular basis. Why? Simply put, our bodies feel better when we eat a wide variety of foods. While meat can be a part of that; it is sometimes eclipsing, preventing us from exploring other exciting options. Health experts advocate not eating too much meat, particularly red meat, and environmentalists decry the damage that large-scale meat factories do to our world.
As Michael Pollan famously said, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." That can be hard for some of us to do in the wintertime, when fresh produce is limited. But at this time of year, where a new and exciting piece of fruit or vegetable appears in the market every week, we like to push ourselves a little.
Does this dish really need meat? Would the flavors of the fresh veggies shine a bit brighter if the focus weren't on the meat? Is the boneless skinless chicken breast in this recipe going to get dry and stringy, while tofu will stay moist and tender?
And of course, finding good vegetarian main dish recipes adds an interesting challenge to our meal planning on meat-free days. That's how we've discovered some of our favorite dishes, and some of our favorite grains. This "restriction" actually leads us to eat a more varied diet.
So, we thought some of you might like to take up this challenge as well. If every meal typically includes meat, try adding one or two regularly scheduled meat-free nights. If you're already eating meat-free at some meals, add a few more specially designated nights.
You might just discover you like it!
Related: Resources for Going Vegetarian
All images by Faith Hopler for the Kitchn.
Israeli Couscous with Chard; Cold Soba, Sesame, and Carrot Salad; Basil Parmesan Pot Beans