Photo Credit: A. Breakey
I recently interviewed Tara Mataraza Desmond, co-author, with Joy Manning, of Almost Meatless (Ten Speed Press, 2009), about the trend toward eating less meat.
Cheryl Sternman Rule: You've written about the "middle place" between vegetarians and carnivores. Please elaborate.
Tara Mataraza Desmond: The middle place is the growing population of people who eat meat for flavor, texture and nutrition, but who believe we should cut back significantly on the amount we consume. Those of us in the middle place are not vegetarians but we don't consider steakhouses our favorite restaurants.
CSR: Can you provide an example of where people have cut back?
TMD: The Baltimore Public School System has declared "Meatless Mondays" in their cafeterias. Eighty-three percent of 80,000 kids opt in for meat-free school lunch on Mondays. Toni Geraci, the district's food director, says it's not about withholding meat, it's about offering choice.
CSR: Any advice for those who want to eat less meat but don't want to give it up altogether?
TMD: Make meat a team player, rather than the center of the plate. Cook with what we call "power players" in the book: non-meat ingredients [hard cheeses, nuts, beans, dried and fresh mushrooms, to name a few] that lend meaty textures and flavors. Learn why it's important to spend more on meat from trusted sources, and how to cook satisfying meals with less of it.