The Case for Eating Eggs on Meatless Mondays
Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.
There seems to be some confusion on the Internet. Every time I write a Meatless Mondays recipe that includes eggs, there’s an outbreak of comments claiming that eggs are meat. It’s time we set the record straight: Eggs are not meat. Eggs are eggs. They are often included in a vegetarian diet because they are a harmless by-product from birds, most commonly chickens. They are an excellent source of protein—essential to the human diet—and offer a fine substitution for humans who choose not to eat meat for whatever reason. It’s true, they are still an animal product, and for those who choose to eat a diet free of all animal products (a vegan diet), eggs are not acceptable. Veganism is an ethical choice, and I for one applaud anyone who chooses to live such a lifestyle. It can be very difficult indeed to live a life free from all animal products. In addition to avoiding eggs, one must also steer clear of honey and leather and wool and most cosmetics (often made with insects), and so much more. But that is not what meatless Mondays are about. They are about avoiding meat. That’s it.
It is also true that many chickens that are raised for egg production are not well cared for. They can be crammed inside dirty buildings without much room to move. They are manipulated with lights to trick their bodies into laying more than one egg a day, which is the norm for most breeds. If it is important to you not to support this treatment, which by all means can be considered animal cruelty in some cases, that is a fine ethical choice too. But there is a solution to this dilemma: Raise your own chickens, or support a local farmer who raises chickens in an ethical way.
I fall into the former category. I have eight hens that lay eggs. They live in a large coop and have access to the fields outside. This time of year, I collect about six eggs a day from them, which means I am always looking for recipes that are egg heavy—especially on Monday, the day of the week that I avoid eating meat.
Serves 8 to 10
3 to 4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 large onions, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt and finely ground black pepper
10 large eggs, lightly beaten
Place the oil in a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat to 325°F. Gently add the potatoes, onions, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer in the oil, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a sieve (reserve the oil for another use) and cool to warm. Combine the eggs and the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Wipe out the skillet, and heat it over medium heat. Place the egg mixture in the skillet and cook, stirring a few times for even cooking, until the eggs look scrambled but still very wet, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the eggs are set, 10 to 12 minutes. Invert the tortilla onto a cutting board and slice. Serve.