3 Painless Ways to Eat Less Meat

Here are Aarti Sequeira's easy tricks for making a meatless meal a delicious one.
red lentils

Aarti Sequeira's Mum's Everydat Red Lentils for Reshoots, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Aarti's Easy and Delicious Red LentilsBesides the health benefits of eating less meat – according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, eating less red meat reduces your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity – and the financial ones – meat is pretty pricey! – you also help reduce your carbon footprint: According to Oxfam America, meat production uses 8% of the world’s water supply!

What other reason do you need to go meatless, even just once a week?

I love the whole Meatless Monday trend, not just because I’m one of those freaks who loves her a big plate of vegetables, but also because I love the challenge of finding ways to satisfy my meat-loving husband. And I have! So here are some of my tricks to making a meatless meal a delicious one.

  1. Beans, beans, beans (and lentils)

Canned beans are one of the best things to hit the shelves since sliced bread! I always have a variety in my cupboard to add to salads, soups and quick vegetable sautees. Try straying from the well-worn path of black beans and chickpeas; black-eyed peas, great Northerns and even brown and green lentils make a great addition to your Monday arsenal. Red lentils cook up very quickly, especially if you have a pressure cooker – they cook up in 10 minutes in that sucka! If you’re looking for a good recipe for red lentils, my Everyday Red Lentils (pictured above) are a great place to start. I still make this recipe every couple of weeks when I’m fresh out of ideas. Combine with some rice to make a complete protein! You can also throw some beans in a food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil for a quick hummus-like dip.

  1. Veggie sweet potato burgers

Though I’m not a fan of those made with lots of soy (it doesn’t agree with me), I love the ones made predominantly of vegetables. And sometimes I’ll make my own: Boil or roast a sweet potato and puree it with some beans. Add some chopped vegetables (peas, corn, sun-dried tomatoes, sauteed shallots and garlic, herbs) and a binder like AP flour or chickpea flour. Shape into burgers and shallow-fry until crispy. Yum!

  1. Lots and lots of roasted vegetables!

Gone are the days of that greasy, slimy roasted vegetable platter. These days I love roasting up everything from broccoli to sweet potatoes! Roasting the vegetables draws out their sweetness and gives them a meatlike texture that allays the fears of meat-lovers. Speaking of which, here are a few vegetables that mimic that chewy meaty texture some of us miss: Brussels sprouts, eggplant, sunchokes and if you can find it, jackfruit.

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