New Cookbook Encourages Vegetarians to 'Eat Around' the Meat

A new cookbook aimed at omnivores who sometimes entertain vegetarians takes a casual approach to the presence of animal products in its recipes, suggesting that guests who don't eat meat can simply avoid it as they go.

Just Eat Around It: 99 Mostly Meat-Free Recipes for Friends of Vegetarians, hit the shelves this week.

"Sure, there's meat in most of these recipes," said author Marjorie Simpson. "But not much. And it's never, like, blended in completely or anything. Where there's meat, it's easy to pick it out or eat around it."

Simpson said she got the idea for the book about a year ago, as she struggled to plan a menu for a dinner party that would include a vegetarian guest.

"It was a small gathering, and I didn't have a lot of time to prepare," she recalled. "And I remember thinking, You know what, f*** it. I'll make my famous turkey goulash. Everyone loves it, and Lisa [the vegetarian] can just eat around the turkey."

Lisa skipped the goulash that night, Simpson recalled, but the seed of an idea was planted, and soon after she began work on Just Eat Around It.

The book contains 99 recipes, and most do indeed contain meat in some form, though none are entirely meat-based. You won't find a recipe for pulled pork sliders, for example, or Korean-style short ribs. 

"My goal in writing this book," she said, "was to offer dishes that would work for everyone at the table."

Simpson stressed she has nothing against vegetarians, noting that her favorite recipe in the book is meatless.

"It's a simple baked potato, with caramelized red onions," she said. "The secret is you cook the onion in melted bacon fat. It lends such an amazing, smoky flavor."

Asked how she would respond to a vegetarian who accidentally ingests some meat in one of her dishes, Simpson brushed the question aside.

"Well, come on," she said. "A little bit won't kill you."