One meatless meal a week can significantly reduce your carbon footprint
By Claudia Hackney
Co-chair, ACE Environmental Team
This project is in alignment with the Meatless Monday movement, an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet by lightening our carbon footprint.
Former Environmental Team Chair Julie Mark got us going, and we collected family favorite vegan or vegetarian recipes to help those who are trying to lower their carbon footprint by reducing meat, especially commercial beef and lamb, and cheese, too. FYI, vegan means “no meat or dairy,” and vegetarian generally means “no meat.”
- Each day you leave meat off your plate, you can reduce your carbon footprint by over eight pounds, or 416 pounds of CO2 per year.
Producing meat requires large amounts of water, land, and energy compared to plant-based foods.
- You can save nearly 133 gallons of water with each meatless meal.
- On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of beef in the U.S, compared to 2.2 calories for vegetable protein.
- Animal agriculture generates nearly 20% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, adding to climate change.
- Animal agriculture is a top polluter of rivers, lakes, and wetlands in the U.S.
We’d love you to try these recipes. They have been family- and friend-tested! And consider making the change, one day a week, to no meat. It’s easy and fun to try new recipes and tempt your taste buds in a new way. We would be happy to get some of your favorite recipes as we continue this initiative. Thanks!
Family-Friendly Meatless Recipes
Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Corn Salsa
You could substitute black beans or Great Northern beans for the black-eyed peas.
1 (15.5 oz.) cans unsalted black-eyed peas, rinsed, drained and divided
½ cup whole-wheat panko (or regular if you can’t find whole-wheat)
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (didn’t have it, skipped)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed (this is the step I usually forget!!)
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
1-1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place ½ cup peas in a bowl; set aside. Place remaining peas in a food processor; pulse until coarsely mashed. Combine mashed peas, panko, 3 tablespoons onions, ½ teaspoon salt, red pepper, and eggs in a bowl. Divide and shape pea mixture into 8 (3-inch) patties.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium. Add 4 patties to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 4 patties.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add corn to pan; cook 2 minutes. Place corn in a bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
Add reserved ½ cup peas, remaining 1 tablespoon onions, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients to corn, stirring to combine. Spoon evenly over cakes.
Serves 4 (serving size is two cakes and about 1/3 cup corn mixture.
From Cooking Light, September 2016
Caldo Verde With Mushrooms
This version of the traditional Portuguese soup uses mushrooms coated in smoked paprika for meaty flavor, instead of the typical smoked sausage. Makes 6 servings, about 11 cups.
1/4 cup olive oil
10 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds russet potatoes (3 large), peeled and diced
7 cups no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
8 ounces kale (1 small bunch, stems removed), leaves very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat half the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have released their moisture and become well browned. Remove from the heat just long enough to stir in the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, then transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil and the onion; cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add the diced potatoes and broth; once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Add about three-quarters of the kale and cook for about 3 minutes, or until it is wilted yet still a vibrant green. Puree with a stick (immersion) blender directly in the pot, or in batches in a regular blender (center knob of the lid removed and covered with paper towel) until smooth, with small flecks of kale. (If you wish, reserve a few pieces of potato before pureeing, and add them to the finished soup.)
Increase the heat to medium; once the pureed soup begins to boil, stir in the remaining kale, the cooked mushrooms, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes, until that kale is wilted.
From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.
Copper Pennies Carrot Salad – Vegan and
Judy Harris, my neighbor in Atlanta, gave me this recipe about 45 years ago. It’s a delicious summer side dish, easy and safe to pack for a picnic too (no mayo). Best if prepared one day ahead to allow time for the flavors to meld. — Bev George
2 lbs fresh carrots, peeled and sliced into discs, 1/8-inch thick
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped (Vidalia or red onion)
1 11-oz can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
2/3 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
sliced black Kalamata olives
Bring a pot of water to boil (enough to cover sliced carrots). Add carrots and boil just until tender (5-8 minutes). Do not overcook. Drain well and cover with cold water to stop cooking.
Drain when cool.
In a large mixing bowl combine the celery, bell pepper, carrots and onion.
In a medium saucepan, bring tomato soup, oil, vinegar, and sugar to a boil. Stir well while heating. Remove from heat and let cool 15-20 minutes.
Add basil, olives, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper to cooled tomato soup mixture. Pour tomato soup mixture over the carrots, pepper, celery & onions. Stir gently to mix and coat veggies well. Cover and marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Serve cold using a slotted spoon.
Cowboy Caviar – Vegan
Makes about 8 cups without the avocados. Prep time: 30 min
Here’s one my friends love for July 4th barbecues. It’s vegan cowboy caviar (black bean, pepper, and corn salsa). This is a double recipe because people will gladly take any leftover home! —Julie Mark
½ c. lime juice
4 tbsp honey
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 tbsp oil (canola)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium onion (white, preferably)
1 c sliced black olives
1 red bell pepper small, diced
1 green bell pepper small, diced
4 seeded jalapeño peppers, diced
2, 15 oz. cans corn
2, 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 avocados diced (optional)
1 c cilantro
Mix the first seven ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl. Add the olives, onions, peppers, corn, and beans. Mix well. If planning to serve right away, gently fold in the avocados and cilantro. Otherwise, just mix in the cilantro. Without the avocado, this lasts for days and tastes better after sitting overnight.
Serve with non-GMO (organic) corn tortilla chips.
This is a recipe I found in the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook after having it in a restaurant. I changed it a bit to make it easier with fewer ingredients, but it’s just as good. Zucchini can be used instead of eggplant, but I’ve never tried it. —Joyce Trier
2 medium eggplant
Large can tomato purée
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil (or more to taste)
8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
Cut eggplant in 1/4 inch slices and boil in salted water 10 min. Combine tomato purée with all but cheeses. In a dish, layer eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.
Gigantes Plaki/Baked Giant Beans (Greek Recipe) – Vegan
I always add a lot of carrot disks to this, 3 or 4 carrots, and often add 1/2 of a cabbage, cut in 1 inch squares or triangles. If you do add a lot of extra veggies, you’ll need to add an extra cup of water and bake 3/4 hr longer. — Julie Mark
1 pound dried beans (gigantes or large lima beans)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (approx. 2 medium onions)
1/3 cup chopped garlic
1 cup chopped celery (approx. 2-3 stalks)
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp crushed, dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup Greek olive oil
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2 cups reserved cooking water from beans
1 cup water, room temperature
Soak dried beans overnight or at least 7 hours. Boil for 50 minutes and RESERVE 2 cups of cooking liquid before draining beans.
Saute chopped onions and celery in olive oil over medium low heat until tender. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add herbs and spices, mix to combine completely and cook for just a minute to combine flavor oils.
Add chopped tomatoes, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved bean cooking liquid and bring sauce up to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to bake the beans.
Layer cooked gigantes beans evenly in 9×13 baking pan and pour sauce over top. Add 1 cup room temperature water and bake, uncovered, for 2 hours in 350 degree oven. Stir approximately every half hour or so.
Allow baked beans to rest for about 15-30 minutes before serving. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of buttery white wine for a most wonderful, traditional meal.
From Sam Sifton, NY Times Cooking, 4 servings Time: 30 minutes
We had the grilled broccoli tonight. It was really tasty and quite easy. I had bought broccoli florets ready to go from Trader Joe’s or Casey’s, so prep time was zip! —Bev George
3 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce (Tamari is gluten-free, soy sauce is not GF, but they taste about the same)
3 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 head broccoli, approx. 2 lbs, cored and cut into 1-inch florets
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
fresh ground black pepper
sea salt to taste when ready to serve
optional: dried pepper flakes added to soy-balsamic mixture before tossing and grilling
Set a gas grill to high, or build a fire in your grill, leaving about 1/3 of grill free of coals.
In a large bowl, whisk together the tamari or soy sauce with the balsamic vinegar. Add the olive oil while whisking vigorously. Add the broccoli florets and toss to coat.
Place a grill basket on the grill to heat, and then add broccoli florets. Grill, tossing frequently until florets are crisp and brown at the edges and tender inside with a little crisp bite still in them; about 10-12 minutes.
Transfer the cooked broccoli to a platter, drizzle with a little more EVOO, sprinkle with parsley and salt to taste.
NOTE: If a grill is not available, use your oven broiler or stove-top using a cast iron skillet. If you use your oven broiler, think of it like an upside-down grill. You’ll have to open the oven door several times to stir the florets around a bit, but it’s worth the effort.
Herbed Lentils & Rice
4 Servings | 15 Mins Prep Time | 2 Hours Total Time
2 2/3 c veggie broth or bouillon
¾ c dry lentils
¾ c chopped onion
½ c brown rice or barley
¼ c dry white wine
½ t dried, crushed basil
¼ t salt
¼ t dried, crushed oregano
¼ t dried, crushed thyme
1/8 t garlic powder
4 oz. grated Swiss cheese
Combine broth, lentils, onion, wine, uncooked rice (or barley) and seasonings. Stir half of the cheese into the lentil mixture. Turn into an ungreased 1 ½ quart casserole. Bake, covered, in a 350° oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until lentils and rice are done, stirring twice. Uncover casserole and top with remaining cheese. Bake 2 to 3 minutes more until the cheese is melted.
Makes four servings.
I tried this recipe in a restaurant too and enjoyed it, so I checked a cookbook but again made some substitutions. I use mozzarella and ricotta cheese and have many complements from dinner guests. — Joyce Trier
12 manicotti shells
2 lbs ricotta or cottage cheese
1/4 lb. mozzarella cheese shredded
1/2 c. Romano or Parmesan grated
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 c. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
2 pint jars spaghetti sauce (any kind)
Mix thoroughly cheeses, eggs, parsley, salt. Add 1 T. salt to 6 quarts boiling water. Add 6 manicotti shells, one at a time so water keeps boiling. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until almost tender, 3 minutes or so. Drain but don’t rinse. Repeat. Heat spaghetti sauce, add 1 cup water, pour half into bottom of baking dish. Fill manicotti shells with cheese. Arrange in dish in single layer with space between. Top with rest of sauce, covering manicotti completely. Bake 400 degrees 25 minutes, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve.
MOM’S POLENTA WITH RICE AND BEANS – Vegan
This delicious recipe is from The China Study Cookbook, by Leanne Campbell, Ph.D. I highly recommend this entire cookbook. All recipes are vegan. I prepared this dish for my wine-tasting group, 3 of the 16 of us are vegetarian, and everyone loved it! —Barb F.
2 cups water
1 cup short-grain brown rice
3/4 cup dry polenta
1 (15.5 oz.) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup salsa
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt to taste
1 Tbs. chili powder
Place 2 cups water, polenta, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to large pie, or quiche, dish and spread over bottom and up sides. Set aside.
Place onion, garlic, tomatoes, broth, chili powder and rice in a pot, and cook until all liquid is gone and rice is tender (about 45 minutes).
Stir black beans into rice. Spread rice-bean mixture on top of polenta.
Spread salsa on top of rice mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
Mash avocado and toss with lemon juice and garlic powder. Salt to taste.
Spoon mashed avocado on top of each slice, and enjoy!!
Quick Summer Squash and Bell Pepper Gratin
You can also use an oven-proof or cast-iron skillet: sauté the peppers and build the gratin in the pan, and transfer to the oven. Another tip: you could use sliced tomatoes in between the onion mixture and the squash and bake a few minutes longer.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced vertically sliced onion
1 cup sliced orange bell pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup dry white wine (I used water)
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow squash
2-1/2 ounces whole-wheat bread (I used what I had, one “heel” of Brownberry HealthNut Bread)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar ( I didn’t do this but it might be awesome)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add wine, salt, and black pepper; cook 1 minute. Spread onion mixture in bottom of shallow 2-quart broiler-proof baking dish. Arrange zucchini and squash slices in a single layer over onion mixture.
Place bread in a mini food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, breadcrumbs, oregano and cheese in a bowl; sprinkle over squash mixture.
Bake at 450 for 8 minutes. Preheat broiler to high (do not remove dish from oven). Broil 2 minutes or until browned. Drizzle with vinegar.
Serves 6 – serving size is ½ cup. Calories 123; fat 6.6g (sat. 1.6g, mono 3.8g, poly 1g); protein 5g; carb 0g; fiber 2g; sugars 4g; chol. 4g; iron 1mg; sodium 247mg; calcium 84mg
Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup
This can easily become vegetarian by subbing vegetable broth for chicken broth. I first tried it because I had the main ingredients and had never cooked with cannellini beans before. It came out pretty good, so I was not concerned about sharing it with folks from church on our Meal Train in which you make a meal for someone who needs one. Good reviews so far! —Claudia Hackney
1/4 cup water
2 lbs sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise into quarters
2 tsp butter
1 cup chopped red onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dried sage)
5 garlic cloves, minced (I used a scant 4 from the jarred kind)
2 cups unsalted chicken stock or broth
1 cup canned unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (I used my fat free, it’s all I had)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
Garnish: 1 cup diced apple and 1/4 cup plain 2% reduced fat Greek yogurt (a dollop per serving)
Place 1/4 cup of water and potatoes in a microwave-safe 8-inch square baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap; pierce wrap 3 or 4 times with a fork. Microwave a HIGH for 15 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Remove plastic wrap and cool.
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, sage, and garlic. Cook 7 minutes or until tender. stirring occasionally. Add stock (or broth) bring to a simmer.
Remove potato skins and discard. Place potatoes, stock mixture, beans, milk, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender. Remove the center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape; secure blender lid on blender and cover with clean towel; process until smooth. Return pureed soup to pan over medium heat; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Divide soup into 4 bowls, topping each serving with 1/4 cup apple and 1 tablespoon of yogurt. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
Calories: 354, Fat: 4.2 grams, Protein: 14 grams, Carb: 68 grams, Fiber: 11 grams, Sugars: 19 grams, Cholesterol: 11mg, Iron 3 mg, Sodium: 623 mg, Calcium: 203 mg
I found this recipe in an Italian cook book, but found it was as good using Ragu or other brand of spaghetti sauce instead of the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and the spices. When all of my grandkids come for dinner, this is the only thing they all will eat! —Joyce Trier
4 oz. wide noodles – not lasagna noodles
1/4 lb. mozzarella cheese sliced or shredded
2 T. Olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
16 oz. tomato sauce or purée
28 oz. canned or fresh tomatoes cut up
1 tsp. sugar
Basil, oregano and parsley to taste
2 cloves garlic crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Layer in casserole dish the cooked noodles, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, herbs and onion sautéed in olive oil added. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly around edges.