Choosing an occasional meat-free meal has started to be a mission even for some inveterate carnivores. Whether for health reasons or environmental reasons (cutting down on your carbon footprint and those methane gas clouds caused by huge herds of beef cattle, among other things). The Belgian city of Ghent has even designated Thursday as a meat-free day for citizens. If you need a few more reasons to lighten up on your animal protein intake, here are some, um, meaty reads.
Laura Reiley, Times food critic
The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food by Jeffrey Masson (W.W. Norton & Co., $24.95). The author of When Elephants Weep argues the case for a vegan diet, walking through the ethical rationale (the horrors of the modern agriculture-industrial complex, farmed animals' psychological stress) and the medical evidence in favor of going all-veggie.
Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source With More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You by Terry Walters (Sterling Epicure, $30). Feel like dabbling with cooking vegan but don't know where to start? This new cookbook, in bookstores next month, runs the gamut from the eye-rolling (seitan bourguignon) to the eminently doable and tasty (spicy coconut pumpkin soup).
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating With More Than 75 Recipes by Mark Bittman (Simon & Schuster, $25). Released at the end of last year, this book by the acerbic and prolific New York Times foodie is part diet advice, part anti-big-ag polemic and part cookbook. The result: a fun read with recipes that will cut down on animal protein intake but not on bold flavors.
The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat by Tal Ronnen (William Morrow, $29.99). This one doesn't come out until October, but it promises to be worth waiting for. A former meat lover, Ronnen is the founder of Veg Advantage, a nonprofit educational organization that helps restaurants put vegetarian items on their menus. This cookbook's aim is to offer workable high-protein, meat-free dishes that anyone can enjoy — kind of vegan cuisine, the next generation.