One of the more annoying problems plaguing gastronomy is a fickle public’s appetite for trends. (Remember how low-carb was going to change the world?) The latest dietary fad is the awkwardly named “flexitarianism,” which is predicated upon a simple message: eating less meat and a lot more veggies will reduce your impact on Mother Earth and also make you healthier.
Essentially, flexitarians want you to eat meat only a few times a week. Everyday Flexitarian, by food journalists and cookbook authors Nettie Cronish and Pat Crocker, aims to help people do just that. “There is no doubt that the Earth and its inhabitants fare better when meat is not a priority at dinner (or lunch or breakfast, for that matter),” they write.
Well, maybe, but this kind of eating can spell disaster for the palate. Vegetable cookery is tricky, and for most amateur cooks, a poorly grilled rib eye will win out over poorly cooked broccoli every time. Thankfully, Cronish and Crocker come through with a wealth of superb, easy vegetarian recipes to help us bridge the gap between steaks and burgers.
In chapters ranging from soups, salads, and sides to barbeque, beans, and beverages, the plants outnumber the beasts by at least three to one. The authors excel at recipes that draw out the rich flavours of vegetables through roasting and grilling techniques, and combining them with other tasty ingredients such as nuts and cheeses. Meat occasionally features as a main event, but more often it is used sparsely – some bacon as a flavour accent, a bit of chicken in a veggie-laden soup, a few shrimp in some pad Thai – and vegetarian versions are always provided.
Once a luxury, meat has arguably become almost a vice for much of North American society. Most people eat far more than they need – but then, it is so damned delicious! Whether or not flexitarianism will evolve into more than just a fad remains to be seen. For the time being, Everyday Flexitarian should prove helpful for those wanting to kick the meat habit without feeling completely cheated.