Reducing Meat Consumption a la Mark Bittman

how to cook everything vegetarianI'm becoming a huge fan of Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Although he's not vegan/vegetarian himself, he's doing his part for the cause. The cause being, reducing the number of animals processed for food. Actually, I believe his cause is the environment, but the two aren't mutually exclusive. If people reduce their consumption of meat, both the animals and the environment will benefit. This is, of course, the "baby steps" approach, but it's an approach that is more likely to affect change in the population at large. His suggestions are a pretty good way to ease your omnivorous friends and family into a less meat intensive diet. Most of us know that "demanding" or even simply suggesting that they go vegan usually doesn't work.

Anyway, in yesterday's New York Times, Bittman gives a few strategies on how to cut down on meat consumption. His basic statement is to change the focus of the meal, instead of considering meat the focus, he suggests planning meals around the "side dishes." This is actually a good strategy for new vegans too, at least if our experience is typical of how most people make the transition. We relied very heavily on the faux meat products at the onset of our vegan life. As Jane's gotten more comfortable with the new cuisine, we've been able to wean ourselves away from most of the faux meats. We still really enjoy some of the faux products (Riblets), and will base a meal around them, but the "meat" doesn't occupy the center of the plate.

If Bittman's article doesn't give you enough suggestions to help your omnis eat less meat, Gary over at Animal Writings has been writing a very comprehensive series directed at meat eaters, entitled "easy ways to reduce meat consumption." He's already up to part 38, so you're sure to find great tips there!


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Bittman’s book! It was the first cookbook I bought after deciding to go vegetarian and there has only been one recipe so far that I haven’t loved. My favorites are the Lentil Soup (so easy and delicious!) and the Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad. I make a batch of either one on a Sunday afternoon and have the leftovers for lunch over the course of the week.

  2. Thanks for this. I’m losing the fight to get my friends to go vegan, and some of my friends for that matter… Maybe I can get them to eat less meat.

  3. Hi Becky,
    Jane loves the Bittman book too. I jokingly refer to it as the doorstop. It’s huge. We did have one clunker early on however…
    The Quinoa Sweet Potato salad sounds great. Well have to try that.

    Hi David,
    Good luck. We’ve sent the article out to a few of our friends with the caveat that we’re sort of proselytizing, so they can ignore us if they want to.

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