Every New Year’s Day for the past few years — and by New Year’s Day, I of course mean, the first day of school — I’ve had the same resolution-y thought: We need to eat less meat in our house. It’s a low-rumbling call year-round, but something about September and the ramped-up schedules and textbook pile-ups on the kitchen counter makes it feel like we’re all in the right frame to do the hard work of changing courses. What usually happens, though, is after a few weeks of salad pizzas and black bean burritos, I end up falling back into my dinner default mode, which, for the most part could be described as “chicken thighs plus something.”
For those of you who have been following along, you know that this past year was different and that we’ve dramatically cut back on our meat consumption. Why? Maybe it was because the kids are older and not only are they more likely to venture out of their comfort zones (read: tofu) but they are more invested in the formerly abstract idea of doing their part to combat climate change. Maybe it was because there are so many chefs and cookbook authors giving vegetables the star treatment and I’ve never been more inspired to spin an eggplant into dinner gold. Maybe it’s because so many of my friends are heading in the plant-based direction. Maybe it’s because Andy and I are getting older (and we’re watching our parents getting older) and dialing back on animal protein feels like the safest way to address our mid-life crises.
Mostly, though, I think the reason why we’ve been able to stick to our vegetarian vow is because we came up with a real plan: We wouldn’t get rid of meat entirely (anyone who has spent time in this space knows how hard it would be for us to say goodbye to our pork chops and meat ragus and chicken dinners) but we would limit those dishes to weekends and special occasions. Then from Monday through Friday, my family of four would be The Weekday Vegetarians, which, in addition to sounding like the name of a folk-rock band at a small liberal arts college, will be the title of my next book.
And that’s my news! I’m working on the fourth book in my Dinner: A Love Story series and I couldn’t be more excited.
Like the rest of my books, The Weekday Vegetarians will focus on dinner, it will cater to busy families, and the recipe development will happen in real time. In other words, every dish that makes the cut will be a meal that was served on a weeknight in the harsh light of real life, not in a studio or a test kitchen.
As usual, I plan on documenting a lot of that real life here on Dinner: A Love Story and on instagram so be sure to follow along. While you’re at it, please please send me your own ideas and inspiration. After so many years of writing this blog, there’s one thing I know for sure: dinner is a lot more fun when we’re all in it together.