This post is the finale of my “Reformed Carnivore” week: a discussion of how this former meat-eater started focusing on a more plant-based diet in order to cut back on the footprint created by my family’s eating habits.
If you missed it, click HERE to read why and how I got started!
Click HERE for my post about chickpeas.
Click HERE for my post about lentils.
For most of my life, I was a really picky eater. I have memories of my parents trying to force me to eat veggies. “You have to eat three bites before you are allowed to get up from the table.” … “Just eat one bite.” … “Leah, you are going to sit there all night if you have to!” … Cue me, slumping down in my chair to get comfy and figuring out how I would sleep sitting in a dining room chair. Finally, my mom would give up and yell, “Fine! I’m tired of looking at you! Get out of here!”
If I couldn’t pronounce it, didn’t know what it tasted like, or wasn’t sure what was in it, I definitely wasn’t eating it. Trying new things was something I know I SHOULD do, but I really just wasn’t interested. I’ve taken steps and found a number of new foods that are now part of my diet, but I’m still not super adventurous when it comes to new foods.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’re not likely to add “weird” foods like lentils and garbanzo beans into your meals. Don’t worry, there are lots of ways to cut back on meat and stick to traditional American foods!
Focus on other foods that provide protein without meat. Eggs, cheese, peas, green beans, nuts, seeds, yogurt, and peanuts are all great protein sources, and delicious meal ingredients. Eating meat-free doesn’t have to mean a new recipe or even a new ingredient!
Here’s a list of simple ideas for Meatless Meals:
- Breakfast for Dinner (skip the bacon and sausage, and focus on eggs, potatoes, and pancakes or waffles)
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Potato Soup
- Pizza (go for cheese or veggies instead of pepperoni!)
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Veggie Fried Rice
- Cheese Lasagna
- Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
- Chili (just skip the meat)
- Salad (throw some cheese, seeds, and nuts in the mix for protein!)
- Cheese Ravioli
- Broccoli & Cheese soup
- Veggie and Cheese Quesadillas
- Pasta with Marinara (for more protein, use a gluten-free pasta made from chickpeas or lentils–they taste just like regular pasta!)
- Vegetable Soup (Still not my personal fav, but it’s a good option.)
- Yogurt and Granola with Fruit
- Peanut Butter and Jelly (Oldies but goodies shouldn’t be left out!)
This is just a starting point. Another option is to load up with “side dishes” like cheesey potatoes and peas. They can be a full meal on their own without a meaty “main.” How many of us wish we could eat a meal of all the side dishes? Well, I’m here to give you permission!
So go ahead, eat food you like. Cook food that looks good, sounds good, and tastes good… and sometimes skip the meat.
Let me know in the comments: what’s your favorite meatless meal?