familiar foods without meat

Today is the vernal equinox and the Great American Meat Out.  Both designations are important for homeEcology.  The equinox marks the transition into the season of more daylight.  It’s also a good time, inspired by images like the one below from NOAA, to think about earth systems, climate change and conditions on earth.

Equinox GOES satellite image NOAA

Vernal equinox 2013, shown in a satellite image from NOAA. The northern and southern hemisphere experience equal shares of daylight and darkness on 2 equinoxes per year. Photo courtesy of NOAA (the image of earth is a satellite image; the image of the sun is an illustration).

The Great American Meat Out is an annual call to go vegan for a day.  The climate footprint of meat is one of many reasons to eat a plant-based diet.  Livestock production for meat is responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions; 18% to 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to meat production, according to recent estimates¹,².  I’m working with a group to highlight the role of meat-production in climate change.  More to come on that later.

I was talking with some people in that group and I said that, after 25 years as a vegetarian, I don’t really think about cooking without meat as anything different than just cooking.  And, I said, a lot of familiar foods are vegetarian.  When pressed to list them, I got stuck— and I’ve been putting together a mental list since then.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a list of vegetarian and vegan foods that are meat-free in their familiar form, even in the homes of people who never think of eating a vegetarian or vegan meal.  Check back on Meatless Mondays for vegetarian breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts that are common in American kitchens.


¹ Livestock’s Long Shadow:  environmental issues and options.  Steinfeld et al.  2006.  Food and Agriculture Organization.

² Livestock and Climate Change.  Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, 2009.  World Watch Institute, November/December, 2009.


author:  Susan Ask