With the weather heating up here in Phoenix, many of us are looking for ways to eat lighter. Meatless meals often come to mind.
The trend here in the U.S. — and globally, for that matter — is a movement called “Meatless Mondays.” It encourages consumers to eliminate meat from their diet for one day a week.
Why should you cut down your meat consumption? There are many reasons, but a big one is that reducing meat consumption can lower health risks such as those for cancer and diabetes.
There are also environmental reasons to cut down on meat. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
If neither of these reasons are enough for you, how about eating lighter meals during our hot Phoenix summers? That seems to do it for me.
What can you use as a meat replacement? There are great options for getting protein without meat. Beans, for example, are a great substitute. So are cheese, eggs and tofu.
Now before you go off the deep end saying you hate tofu, I used to think the same thing. But I was challenged to develop a tofu class several years ago. I tried to look at tofu from a meat-eaters point of view, and I came up with some great recipes that did not include those icky little tofu squares. I even occasionally offer a “tofu for meat eaters” class and have converted many a tofu-hater. The fact that I enjoy tofu still shocks me!
There are lots of recipes featuring vegetables that are tasty and healthy. Some great vegetarian dishes to try are eggplant roll-ups, caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche, grilled portobello mushrooms and tofu “chicken” salad.
Understand that I am not trying to turn anyone into a vegetarian. After all, when I smell that steak on the barbecue, I would definitely fall off the vegetarian bandwagon. I am just trying to encourage you to go meatless one day a week. It’s not as difficult as you think, and you may find that you do not miss the meat.
What vegetarian dishes do you enjoy?
• Judy A. Toth is the owner of Simply Impressive Cooking School in Mesa. Her column appears the second Wednesday of the month. Reach her at (480) 654-1981 or simplyimpressive.com.