For personal reasons I gave up meat consumption several years ago. With the exception of a few minor adjustments in meal planning, it’s been a fairly smooth transition to a meatless lifestyle. However, at holiday times I usually felt left out at the dinner table where the only available items were side dishes like potatoes and vegetables. The main dishes were always, turkey, chicken, or ham. I started to wonder if I could (literally) bring to the table — given our growing plant-based alternative food world— that would meet everyone’s needs.

Thanks to the internet, recipes are just a Google search away. Since plant-based burger alternatives replicate the experience of a meat burger, my goal was to replicate a familiar food form so others at the table would already have a sense of comfort consuming what I make. In seconds I came across a recipe for an Impossible or Beyond Meat loaf. It seemed to meet all my criteria, which were a meatless alternative that others could easily wrap their heads around while being easy to prepare.

I doubled the recipe and made two loaves – one for my home as a test and the second for my family’s home over the Christmas holiday. When I tried the test loaf, I was amazed at how tasty and meat-like it was. Then again, I haven’t had meat in years so I’m probably not the best judge. The true judgment came on Christmas day when dinner was served. Everyone knew it was a meatless meatloaf ahead of time so you could see hesitation in their facial expressions. One by one, the meat eaters at the table tried the meatless meatloaf while I watched their expressions change from hesitation to complete amazement. And the final sign of acceptance was when each of them asked for seconds.

Clearly I didn’t make anyone at that table a vegetarian but it was a reflection of what we see in the nation. Ninety percent of plant-based food users are neither vegetarian nor vegan, but they use plant-based sourced to get nutrients like protein without having to consume more meat. They use meatless sources in conjunction with their traditional meats to fulfill their needs.

As for vegetarians, flexitarians, vegans, pescatarians, and everyone in between there are more plant-based options than ever. Everyone can have a place at the center of the plate.