Low-Carbon, Plant-Forward Culinary Tips for Earth Day

One of the primary ways people can reduce their individual contribution to climate change is by eating more plant-forward, vegetarian, and vegan meals. A common misconception is that eating more plants is boring or has to mean eating no meat at all. With a little help from our Plant-Forward Culinary Collaborative, a working group of Bon Appetit chefs who have helped to define the future of plant-forward in our cafés and spread best practices companywide, we’re here to provide some low-carbon, plant-forward culinary tips that dispel these misconceptions.

MEAT ON THE SIDE: Create 100% plant-based meals paired with an animal protein as an optional topping or complement to the dish! Adding a 2 – 3 oz. portion of meat as an add-on helps to satisfy carnivorous cravings and meets USDA dietary guidelines, while still making the dish climate-friendly.

BUMP UP THE PLANTS: Follow recipes that include animal protein and then bump up the volume of plants in your dish! This vegetable-maximalist approach makes for visually abundant plates and equally satisfying meals. Plus, who doesn’t love to stray from the written recipe every once in a while?

CHEF IT UP: Flex your culinary prowess with plants! If a preparation technique works on meat, it works on vegetables. Consider marinating, barbecuing, glazing, pan-frying, smoking, or even sous vide. Other cool things you can do to them include: spiralize, tot, fritter, dress, blacken, or even turn vegetables into a serving vessel – we see you, zucchini boats.

GO HALFSIES: When preparing tapas or pairing two smaller entrées, make one plant-based and one meat. This works well for wraps, tacos, sandwiches, skewers, hand pies, and more!

MAKE IT BLENDED: Blend almost any animal-derived product with plant foods. Doing so decreases the amount of animal protein served in the dish without changing the appearance or mouthfeel. Dive into the world of blended by experimenting replace some of the meat in a meatloaf recipe with finely chopped mushrooms; make a blended Bolognese sauce with cauliflower, lentils, and a little meat; or try this tofu and egg scramble.