5 Hearty Plant-Based Meals For the Carnivores in Your Life

I used to eat a lot of meat. Like, every meal plus meatsnacks. But over the last few years, I have gradually shifted to a plant-based diet—a flexible term I define as “eating mostly plants, while occasionally enjoying meat, fish, eggs and dairy.”

Why the shift? A few reasons:

It’s better for my health and my family’s health.

Research indicates that a plant-based diet may lower bad numbers like “body mass index, blood pressure . . . and cholesterol levels.” It may also reduce your risk for certain types of cancer, and prevent cognitive decline.

It’s better for the planet.

After fossil fuels, animal agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. To put it simply, meat is heating the planet.

But here’s the good news: shifting to a plant-based diet can “help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and land used for factory farming, which are all factors in global warming and environmental degradation.

Enough preaching. Onto the most compelling reason.

It’s tasty as hell.

Look, I’m no meat martyr. Plants, as it turns out, are delicious.

Getting my family on board, though, has been more of a challenge. My teenage boys don’t want to hear about “living into our values.” They would rather eat some chili.

But through a lot of trial and error (and my boys are not shy about pointing out the errors), I have found a handful of plant-based recipes that even my carnivores like. Note that I didn’t say will tolerate, only to run out to Wendy’s an hour later. They really like these five dinners.

Chili with Cornbread Islands

link to recipe

Here’s the thing you need to know about this meal: just before you pop it into the oven, it’s gonna look like a swampy mess. This is never going to come together, you’ll think. I can’t believe Furuness punked me like that.

Have some faith, little chef. Like a team gelling right before the playoffs, this dish will come together.

One tip: instead of working the butter into the cornmeal mixture with your fingers (which warms up up the butter, causing it to melt into the cornmeal too early), you can dump the cornmeal mixture and butter cubes into afood processor. Pulse until it’s mealy. (That might be the most repulsive sentence I have ever written, but you get the idea.)

Minestrone

Cookie & Kate | link to recipe

My neighbor is a man in his nineties named Dale. One time, he invited me to a dinner at the local Lion’s Club. On our way to the club, he told me about the menu for the evening—prime rib, meatballs, roast chicken. Then he paused and narrowed his eyes. “You’re not a viggan, are you?”

When I told him I wasn’t a viggan, he nodded. “Good,” he said.

Why am I telling you this story? Because even Dale loves my minestrone.

Pizza

Making pizza at home can be a complex undertaking, or it can be quick and simple. To cut down on the hassle, use sauce-in-a-jar and this recipe for super-fast pizza dough. (The secret is a tiny amount of baking powder so you don’t have to wait a long time for the leavening effect of the yeast.)

In our house, we double the recipe, because teenagers. Also, that allows everyone to customize their own pie, which cuts down on the complaining.

Oh, and if you want to level up from sauce-in-a-jar, try this simple and tasty recipe from Serious Eats.

Tacos

Cookie and Kate (again!) | link to recipe

Not everything we eat in my house is tomato-based. Sometimes we eat tacos.

Like pizza, tacos are customizable. People like choices. People also like tacos, and these are really good ones. I didn’t think I would like the pickled onions, but I really dug their crunch and vinegary bite. Star of the taco show, imo.

Baked Ziti

Cookie & Kate (yet again) | link to recipe

Back to tomatoes. And back to Cookie & Kate. I’m a little embarrassed that most of my recipes in this article come from a single site, but in my defense, C&K is the best. All killer, no filler.

I was skeptical of Kate’s claim that cottage cheese would work as well as ricotta, but it did. As a bonus, I didn’t walk away from the table feeling like I had swallowed a bowling ball made of Ambien.

In conclusion, eat more plants. Nourish the carnivores in your life. Make your neighbors think you’re a viggan (a vegan who’s also into wicca, maybe?). Most importantly, enjoy.

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