I’m sure that this is how all of our grandparents ate. That Shabbat chicken was probably the only meat for the week - and it was probably shared by the entire family plus guests. The rest of the week, it was that illusion of meat - the chicken-scented broth - that kept everyone happy.
I’m sure you’re aware that meat consumption affects our health, our finances, even the environment. And just maybe you know deep down that you and your family are never going to give meat or dairy up. I get that and respect it. But you know what? Eating less meat and dairy need not be all or nothing. You don’t need to say good-bye to meat and dairy for the rest of your life to enjoy more plant based foods.
In fact, over the course of a few years, I’ve slowly transitioned my family into a largely (notice I said “largely” and not “totally”) plant-based diet, with minimal fussing. The secret to my diet-switching success? I watched + learned from Cambodian women. During these years living in developing countries, I noticed that the non-western world views meat differently than we do. Most of the world doesn’t (and can’t!) have meat as the center of their meal.
They view meat as a flavoring agent. Almost a condiment. Those Cambodian women use an ounce of meat to flavor the soup stock, so the whole soup is infused with flavor - without all the fat and cost. They shred ½ an ounce of beef over rice or noodles. They drop a bone into the curry base and call it a day.
These simple, strategic preparations give the dish the taste and feel of meat without piles of actual meat. You can do exactly the same thing in your kitchen.
- Top your spaghetti with just a sprinkling of ground beef.
- Shred one chicken breast and divide that between six plates.
- Drop a quarter-sized piece of beef into your soup broth and then toss it when the soup is done.
Your family will still be eating meat, but just a little bit differently.
Here are some recipes that use meat to add flavor, but are not the center: