Plant–based Eating with Fork Ranger

By Steve Schaefer

A great way to lower your carbon footprint is by eating plants and reducing or eliminating meat in your diet. It’s just a question of finding a way to do it that works for you.

Project Drawdown’s Table of Solutions includes two food-related items right at the top:

  1. Reduced Food Waste
  2. Plant-Rich Diets

So, how do you move to more plant-based eating? There are plenty of books and websites, but I found a way that is helping me get started. It’s called Fork Ranger.

Fork Ranger is a Dutch startup based in Amsterdam. Its co-founder, Frank Holleman, followed a familiar path to climate crisis awareness. He saw An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and started thinking about what he could do. After scrubbing a plan to explore Antarctica in a vehicle made from recycled plastic bottles, he found Project Drawdown’s list. Not having an abiding interest in or aptitude for EVs and high tech, he decided to share plant-based recipes with a book and an app.

I found Fork Ranger because I’m a Nederlands (Dutch language) student, but it comes in English, too. I ordered the book (in Dutch, for learning purposes) and downloaded the app. I also signed up for Fork Ranger’s emails, which provide easy-to-understand guidance each Wednesday on a variety of relevant topics for reducing meat and increasing vegetables in your diet.

The book is a sturdy, hard-cover volume (mine is inscribed by Holleman). I use the app in Nederlands for learning and in English when I’m cooking to try to prevent mistakes (but they’re still possible—see below).

The book is attractive and the website is well done, but the app is the key. After each brief lesson, in which you answer a question, you earn a new recipe. The recipes accumulate in your My Recipes, which you can sort by All or Favorites.

Each simple recipe shows a photo, lists the ingredients, and describes the process.

You can create a shopping list with one click and take it shopping. You can set the number of servings you want to make, which helps limit food waste. I have been translating grams to ounces in the store, but plan to start doing that at home to simplify shopping.

I have tried three recipes so far, with success. The Spinach Pasta Pesto went smoothly, although I learned about the importance of timing your pasta properly. The White Wine Mushroom Tagliatelle was great, even with a pasta substitution (I couldn’t find the long, flat tagliatelle noodles). I chopped various ingredients without cutting myself. The recipes say they take around a half hour, but I found it takes more than an hour as I develop my cooking skills.

The other night, I cooked up Sweet Potato Roast, a variation on the typical Dutch meal with potatoes, vegetables, and meat (but without the meat!). It came out fine, but my learning experience included forgetting to translate 200 degrees Celsius into Fahrenheit (396 degrees). I had to put the sweet potatoes and cauliflower in the microwave, but it was delicious!

My wife and I are planning to move primarily to plant-based eating in 2023 and are ramping up now. She’s happy to see me making dinner, and we are weaning ourselves off of our pandemic-induced Doordash habit. More to come.

Here’s a recipe in Dutch! (Deel means “share.”)