How to Eat Less Meat

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Meat adds a savory, rich flavor profile (a.k.a. umami) to a dish. Fortunately, there are plenty of nonmeat ingredients that you can use to pump up this element:


Soy sauce

Fresh, dried, or powdered mushrooms. Ivy Manning, author of The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table, suggests throwing dried porcini in the blender and using the powder in things like vegetarian Bolognese. It’ll give a background note of savoriness without making a dish taste too mushroomy.

Parmigiano-Reggiano or other flavorful cheeses like Gorgonzola, goat, and feta. Small amounts add a lot of flavor.

Mushroom or vegetable stock

Peanut butter. Tara Mataraza Desmond and Joy Manning, authors of Almost Meatless, say it’s a secret ingredient in their chili recipe. “Just a couple tablespoons lends a velvety background … it blends in with the beans and tomato products so you’ve got three really umami-rich players,” says Desmond.

Olives (chopped or in a paste)

Miso. Jeremy Fox, former executive chef at Ubuntu in Napa, California, says the red variety is a great substitute for anchovies.

Dried seaweed Next: Smokiness without bacon »

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