Although it’s tempting to characterize Meat/No Meat as “Flexitarian,” or “semi-vegetarian,” we prefer the term “Biculinary.” There are dozens of flexitarian cookbooks on the market already; what makes our cookbook different from all of those guys?
A flexitarian diet is one in which someone eats mostly vegetarian cuisine, but occasionally adds meat. Emily is 100% vegetarian (“ovo-lacto-vegetarian if you’re a hair-splitter), so she wouldn’t ever use the meat versions of the recipes we’re including. Jeremy, on the other hand, greatly enjoys vegetarian cuisine, but is a dyed-in-the-wool omnivore. The meat versions of each recipe won’t just be vegetarian versions with a little animal protein added for flavor.
This is why our recipes are a little more complex than just “Stir fry with chicken or tofu! *Giggle!*”
The eggplant salt pork or veggie sausage experiment are excellent examples. We’re concerned not with simple substitution, but with coming up with holistic flavor contributions that will contribute additional complexity to a recipe. This might mean a little more initial work, but the payoff is always something more than the simple, utilitarian flavor of seitan. We want to turn that seitan into something sublime!
Of course, we’ll also provide “easy” versions for those times when you don’t feel like whipping up a two-day eggplant confit.
The other flexitarian trope that doesn’t fit into our philosophy is the idea that semi-vegetarian cuisine needs to be “healthy,” or healthier, than meat-based food. Meat/No Meat is not a health food book. Granted, we won’t subject our readers to Paula Deen-style butter debauchery, but we don’t feel it’s our responsibility to count calories and fat for people who use our recipes. Eating more vegetables is better for you, yes, and some of our recipes will be healthy and wholesome, but this isn’t the main concept behind our book. We’ll also be including recipes that are deep fried, salty and fatty.
Flexitarianism is great, but it’s different than what we’re doing. We’re more interested in the commingling of two culinary philosophies, not mere replacement therapy.
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