First off, let’s set the record straight. We tried not eating meat on Mondays (Meatless Mondays) and, embarrassingly, failed. Every dish was “ok, for not having meat in it,” or “could have been better, if there was meat in it.” And after a few months, I just couldn’t take the rejection and whining, and we began serving meat again.
The cards were stacked against us. John is a butcher and has access to some of the best raised, tastiest meat there is. The boys are teens, growing like weeds and are always famished. And while some of us like tofu and others nuts, there is no uniformity to what we all will eat (at least not without complaining about it throughout the meal), unless it is chicken, hamburgers or bacon.
Yet it struck me that if we – relatively affluent foodies living in San Francisco – can’t figure out how to make Meatless Mondays work, then I’d bet my favorite shoes most people won’t even attempt it.
But could we try to just eat less meat everyday to the same affect? I wondered. Maybe in addition to limiting our intake on Mondays of “meat” (and I am including fish here, for reasons that will be discussed in this blog), mainstream Americans can learn to also eat less meat overall and to eat more sustainably every day. Maybe instead of using huge chunks of meat in our recipes we can instead learn to use the minimum amount of meat in a dish that still leaves it satisfying and tasty.
Of course, the idea to promote less meat eating is not new, and most notably I want to give a shout-out to Almost Meatless, a wonderful cookbook full of information and recipes on just this topic. The Environmental Working Group has also done great work on why you should eat less meat, as has the Worldwatch Institute.
This blog will go a step further in that while it will also be a collection of recipes suggesting ways to limit the amount of meat we use in our everyday dishes, it will also be a continuous discussion as to the challenges and successes of transitioning our diet.
The Less Meat Blog will present the latest information on “all things meat” and give you ways to learn how and why we all must eat less. In other words, the idea is that the more we all know about the topic the better. Better informed eaters make better decisions, be it to eat no meat on Mondays, to eat less everyday, or, at the very least, to buy only meats raised or fished responsibly.
So here is a recipe to get you started eating less meat. As with all our recipes, add things you have in the fridge to also limit your food waste (a topic for another day).
Less Meat Mexican-Inspired Chicken Stew (feeds two well)
1 chicken leg and thigh
6-8 small or 2 large peppers (a mix of red, yellow, green or orange) – cut into chunks
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 can of chickpeas
2 pounds tomatillos if available, or 1 can whole tomatoes.
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme (or a few fresh sprigs)
salt and pepper
package egg noodles
1 tablespoon cilantro
crema or sour cream
Salt and pepper chicken. Brown well in frying pan with oil. When it is mostly cooked, take it out of the pan. Add a little more oil and cook onion 2 minutes. Add peppers, lightly saute. Make a little pool of oil, heat and add garlic. Mix into peppers and onions. Add tomatillos if using, or tomatoes. Add back in the chicken and cook until tomatillos are fully cooked and/or the sauce is stewy, not soupy. Serve over egg noodles and garnish with cilantro, lime, and crema or sour cream.