Sustainable Living in the Kitchen: Meat Free Meal Ideas

Summer is in full swing and if you are looking to make a delicious meal that is both in line with sustainable living and a nice cool eat to offset those higher temperatures then this sustainable living in the kitchen recipe is for you. This ongoing series acknowledges that if you are able to eat in a vegetarian or vegan fashion for at least a few days of the week you can cut back the amount of carbon and waste generated by the meat, egg, and dairy industries a lot. These three sectors accounted for over half of the total amount of emissions across the US last year in not only manufacturing practices but shipping and more.

Yet for those sustainable living folks who may have the drive and dedication to ditching meat from their diets, even if only for a few days a week, but are lacking on meal inspiration you can look to this series to get you started. This recipe is for an Italian Style Quinoa Salad and courtesy of; another bonus with many vegetarian style dishes is that they hold the potential to be healthier for you with lower fat contents and cholesterol levels. Quinoa itself is also a great way to get in some non-animal protein which is an important nutrient that you still need to be on the lookout for as you ditch meat.


½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups water
2 teaspoons each chopped fresh oregano and basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped roasted or fresh red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped basil, for garnish

  1. Take a medium size saucepan, place a lit on it, and heat it on a medium level heat for one to two minutes.
  2. Place in and sauté onions for three to four minutes while continuing to stir. To avoid onions from sticking to the pan add either broth or water in one tablespoon increments.
  3. Rinse the quinoa and add it along with the garlic into the pan and continue to sauté for another minute until you can see the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the water and then bring everything to a boil; once done reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan.
  5. Simmer the combination for twelve minutes and then take the pan off of the heat and allow it to cool for five minutes. At this point fluff the mixture.
  6. Once the items are cooled you will add the roasted red pepper, herbs, and season to taste. Finally add the slivered almonds and tomatoes to the top; a dash of the nutritional yeast if you like, and you can use the basil as garnish.

This light, healthy, and quick to make sustainable living recipe is a great lunch or dinner for a picnic, to pack and take to work, or just enjoy while out in the sunshine. You can also have the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that you are feeding your body well and also reducing your impact on the environment at the same time. Opt for local ingredients and serve this tasty meal to the whole family to impart to the kids how sustainable living can also be delish.

Photo credit: Jules