No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem


Among your other resolutions — do more good? make more money? — you’ve probably made the annual pledge to eat better, although this concept may be more often reduced simply to “lose some weight.” The weight-loss obsession is both a national need and a neurotic urge (those last five pounds really don’t matter, either cosmetically or medically). But most of us do need to eat “better.”

If defining this betterness has become increasingly more difficult (half the diet books that spilled over my desk in December focused on going gluten-free), the core of the answer is known to everyone: eat more plants. And if the diet that most starkly represents this — veganism — is no longer considered bizarre or unreasonably spartan, neither is it exactly mainstream. (For the record, vegans don’t simply avoid meat; they eschew all animal products, including dairy, eggs and even honey.)

Many vegan dishes, however, are already beloved: we eat fruit salad, peanut butter and jelly, beans and rice, eggplant in garlic sauce. The problem faced by many of us — brought up as we were with plates whose center was filled with a piece of an animal — is in imagining less-traditional vegan dishes that are creative, filling, interesting and not especially challenging to either put together or enjoy.

My point here is to make semi-veganism work for you. Once a week, let bean burgers stand in for hamburgers, leave the meat out of your pasta sauce, make a risotto the likes of which you’ve probably never had — and you may just find yourself eating “better.”

These recipes serve about four, and in all, the addition of salt and pepper is taken for granted. This is not a gimmick or even a diet. It’s a path, and the smart resolution might be to get on it.

Get the recipes here.


8 thoughts on “No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem

  1. Dairy in the northeast area of the NYTimes biggest readership base is a very local food that I’m hoping NYC people are proud of. Just a short drive north of NYC, you’ll find thousands of family farms, a traditional use of the extensive grasslands of NY. Unfortunately, some urban food writers seem ever further removed from us, the workaday dairy farmers of the Northeast. There are about 13,000 dairy farms, averaging 100 cows from northern Maryland to Maine producing milk. About 42% of the milk produced by NY’s farms goes directly to fluid milk for the northeast corridor. Another big chunk goes for fresh yogurt, especially Greek Yogurt. However, as farms have been lost, we are now looking at some 3,000,000 acres of empty grasslands according to Cornell’s recent grasslands report. Audubon is reporting grassland bird species populations plummeting as grassland dairy farms empty out. Empty barns, empty towns, decimated main streets are seen everywhere upstate. As dairy farms struggle, with some even turning to Fracking for money to survive, I can only wonder why Mr. Bittman never seems to give us a word of encouragement? Perhaps I am reading you wrong, but could you clarify what your position on dairy farming is, particularly NY dairy farming?

  2. I am sorry that businesses are failing NYFARMER, but Mr. Bittman is right. Dairy is on the way out. It is not necessary in our diets and in fact makes many of us sick. Dairy milk exists purely to feed baby cows. Those dairy farmers are just going to have to evolve and find other ways to live. Perhaps they could grow vegetables or grains.

  3. Thanks for this post, Mark. I completely agree. And to the farmer above, yes – dairy is on the way out. Cow’s milk is perfect for baby cows in the way that human breastmilk is perfect for growing baby humans – not the other way around.

  4. Hey, NYFarmer… I live in the midwest and I appreciate all you farmers do to feed us city folk! I adore everything dairy and my family eats lots of it. I know some people have health issues with dairy and I thank God I’m not one of them! Milk with dinner is still alive in our household. I have full respect for each and every persons dietary choices but I’m really glad for the dairy farmers of America!

  5. I consume dairy in moderation and that’s where I want to keep it. While we may not "need" cow’s milk, the fact is that pastoral populations did undergo genetic mutation thousands of years ago for lactase persistence. Some people can safely consume dairy without gastrointestinal problems well into adulthood. Of course if you are lactose intolerant or if you morally oppose dairy then by all means grab the soy milk. Moderation is the key and I think that’s what Bittman is trying to say here. It’s not about getting rid of meat or dairy all together, but cutting back on the frequency of ingestion. Some milk and some meat is healthy, for as long as your body can digest and ingest it, but the problems come when you have meat and dairy all the live long day 24/7.

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