Cooking is an act of love. Though this simple truth resonates with all of us on a certain gut level, I only realized it when Sara and I had kids. We prepare meals every day, multiple times a day in fact, in an effort to provide not just life-sustaining nourishment but the kind of quality flavors and foods that will, with hope, lead to a lifetime of healthy eating. All this when we could just take the kids to McDonald’s every day! Of course, we would never do that, because we care.

It makes sense that cooking is an act of love. What’s more elemental, more honest than expressing your feeling through wholesome, tasty meals, along with the occasional decadent dish? This thesis certainly explains our preoccupation with cooking shows. When TV chefs, without a doubt the hardest working celebrities around, exert their matchless skills, their uncanny inspiration towards creating culinary masterpieces from the crudest ingredients, we imagine what it would be like to sit on the receiving end of each delectable dish. The most nurturing maternal stereotypes are also invested with both prowess and dedication in the kitchen. Cooking, like most expressions of affection, doesn’t prove devotion in a single grand gesture but in thousands upon thousands of little bites.

Once you accept that cooking is an expression of emotional generosity, you might see why it can be nice to spread the love towards your ingredients every once in a while. By this, I mean preparing meals without meat. Most people are surprised at how delicious meals prepared with only fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products can be, somehow forgetting that pizza, french fries, and doughnuts are staples of the Western diet! Following are some spectacular ideas for meals at every course that require no more sacrifice from animals than, at most, a little milk or eggs.

A Weight Lifted (what a liberating name for a food blog that is!) gets our delicious day started with some Green Mountain Granola.
Peggy Hall at Blabber Heads shares a recipe for Crock Pot Oatmeal, the first of many of this carnival’s treats for adherents to the Cult of the Crock Pot (and you know who you are!)
Pancake Recipes provides what else but a pancake recipe. Gingerbread Pancakes are an exciting way to start your day.
Sharon, the ebullient Birdchick, shares a recipe for Migas that I, a huge fan of huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos, can’t wait to try.

Lunch and dinner often involve the same dishes, but soups, salads, sandwiches, and certain other types of recipes are usually associated with the midday repast. For example, I consider myself a true connoisseur of Eggplant Parmigiana heroes and have devoted many a lunch hour to seeking out the perfect hero. That’s why I’m looking forward to testing the Expat Chef’s Vegetable Parmigiano recipe from Eat Local Challenge, which sounds very cool!
Patrick at The Hawk Owl’s Nest shares a Mango Tango Black Bean Salsa, which his girlfriend affirms is truly the best salsa. I trust both of them on this one!
Jochen of Bell Tower Birding has brought us a delicacy described simply as The Filled Pancake. This savory dish sounds ideal for any time of day.
Diabetic Recipes delivers an enticing Grits and Cheese Chile Pie, which might go very well with a salad dressed with World Famous Recipes’ pristine Tofu Cream Dressing.
Dressing is part of what makes an exceptional salad, but you can’t ignore quality ingredients. That’s why Recipes Recipe’s Gold Coat Autumn Salad with California Figs sounds so toothsome.

Dinner is a fine time to get fancy, to try new ingredients or preparations. For those of you interested in expanding your culinary horizons, and if you’ve read this far, I think this means you, will find those horizons blown away by FatFree Vegan Kitchen. Susan V’s Seaside-Stuffed Mirlitons, which you may know as chayotes, exemplify her sumptuous style of cooking.
Fuzzilicious Thinking thought that we might enjoy Zucchini, Corn & Potato Tacos. I heartily concur, especially if paired with a side of Greek Green Beans, courtesy of the Homeschool Bloggers at Trinity Prep School.
Shawn of Everything And Nothing, the wellspring from which this ambrosial carnival flows, provides a cornucopia of crock pot ideas Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Note that some of these recipes like French Farmhouse Fricassee and White Bean and Pesto Zucchini Boats can be made even if you don’t have a crock pot.
Another meal that tastes better cooked slow is my own Manly Veggie Chili, though I should add that there’s nothing inherently masculine about chili, with meat or without.

Dessert is usually meatless, at least where I come from. But these recipes seem more tempting that the usual after-dinner fare. I mean, when is the last time you savored a rich Rhubarb Mousse? Be sure to thank Harald at Vegalicious when you finally do. I know I will!
I don’t know how The Incredible Shrinking Ladies do it, shrink that is, with treats like Chocolate Meringue Cookies in the cookie jar.
If you’re not concerned about shrinking, you might enjoy the Muffins That Taste Like Donuts from KeeWee’s Corner. Any baked good that needs to be dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar makes my mouth water.
Triticale the Wheat/Rye Guy shares a recipe for Mexican Silk Chocolate Pie and, as a thoughtful touch, includes tips on how to beat the batter for the requisite 25 minutes without losing an arm!
World Famous Recipes adds real pizazz to prepared cookie dough with White Chocolate-Cinnamon Triangles.
If you can’t bear the idea of ending your day without a confection from the crock pot, Slow Cooker Recipes has come to the rescue with Crock Pot Hot Chocolate.

I hope you all enjoyed this assemblage of enticing meatless recipes. My apologies to anyone whose submission didn’t make this edition, but even chicken broth counts as meat! For anyone hungry for more astonishingly tasty meatless recipes, allow me to recommend without reservation The Bold Vegetarian Chef by Ken Charney. Every dish I’ve tried from this superb collection has been a winner and many have become part of our regular rotation. Also be sure to check out the next Carnival of the Recipes at The Porch Light on Apr 22.

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.