The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook targets those trying to cut meat out of their diet, at least partially. Its aim is not to make the reader a vegetarian or convince people about the evils of eating meat. Instead, Kim O’Donnel explains that, on average, Americans eat a lot more meat than they need to be healthy. To help readers find ways to lessen the amount of meat they eat, O’Donnel presents a challenge to the reader at the beginning of the book: go without meat one day per week.
Since The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook relies on vegetables (clearly!), it is divided into sections based on seasons. This makes it easy for the reader to choose a recipe with vegetables that will be in season. However, O’Donnel encourages the reader to use the divisions as a guide and not a bible - if something in a different season speaks to you, you should feel free to cook it. The dishes are paired such that each recipe has a main and side dish suggestion. Additionally, certain dishes are labeled as gluten-free, dairy-optional and vegan, in case any of those are concerns for readers.
The recipes are easy to make and generally take less than 45 minutes. They don’t require a large list of ingredients; most of the spices you will already have around the house. I made two main and side dishes combinations in order to test the ease of the recipes and their taste level.
First up was the Zucchini & Corn Studded Orzo with a side of Goat Cheesy Roasted Peppers. Both were easy to make. The Goat Cheesy Roasted Red Peppers left something to be desired in terms of mess and presentation, but their exquisite taste made up for any complaints in that department. The orzo was fresh and filling; overall, this was an excellent pairing, as both dishes were delicious.
The Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes and Pear-Arugula Salad were not quite as successful. While the Pear-Arugula Salad was absolutely delicious and could have served as a meal on its own with the addition of some grilled chicken, the sweet potatoes left something to be desired. I suspect the uncooked garlic had something to do with this, as it overpowered the entire dish. In the future, I might consider omitting the garlic or sautéing it before following the recipe’s instructions.
A few minor complaints: the cookbook isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as it could be. There aren’t photos accompanying every recipe. Instead, a few glossy pages in the middle of the book contain color photographs, while the bulk of the book is black and white. Aesthetics are important in a cookbook, especially when browsing in a store, and The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour just isn’t as attractive as many of the other glossy cookbooks on the shelves. Additionally, there are no cooking times included for recipes. This is an important element for busy cooks, and as a result, it makes the cookbook more frustrating than it should be to use.
Overall, however, The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook is a worthy addition to any home cookbook library, especially if readers are interested in lessening the amount of meat they eat. The recipes are simple and quick, and there will be few complaints in the taste department. This cookbook should especially appeal to vegetarians and those trying to find delicious and meatless recipes.