Why Chef Eric Ripert Wants Us All To Eat More Vegetables - Exclusive

If there's one thing chef Eric Ripert is known for, it's unquestionably seafood. The owner and creative force behind renowned New York City restaurant Le Bernardin has maintained three Michelin stars for nearly 20 years thanks to his highly innovative, modernist, seafood-centric take on elevated French cuisine. Ripert has cemented his place among the masters of fine dining, delighting guests and critics alike with elaborate and imaginative dishes such as lightly smoked sea trout tartare with Meyer lemon jelly, black pepper crisp, and vodka crème fraîche; scallop black Truffle slivers with green apple-horseradish vinaigrette; or grilled hiramasa with roasted maitake and bone marrow-red wine bordelaise.

And while one might imagine that Ripert himself eats like that all the time (we sure would if we could!), the chef admits that when he's at home, he takes a different approach to meals. "When I am not at the restaurant ... our meals are mainly vegetarian," he explained to Mashed recently in an  exclusive interview. His love of fresh produce has also been put in the spotlight with the release of his latest cookbook "Vegetable Simple," which features dozens of uncomplicated yet undeniably scrumptious recipes, all starring fresh veggies.

The cookbook is a reflection of Ripert's culinary imagination, his preferred way to eat, and his passion for the planet and all it has to offer, as he explained to Mashed. In the conversation, he also opened up about why he's turned his focus to fresh vegetables, and why he thinks we should all be eating a more plant-based diet.

Eating plant-based is better for the planet and our health, says Ripert

Chef Eric Ripert can certainly acknowledge that vegetables have taken a back seat in the world of culinary pursuits. But, if you ask him, that's starting to change — and rightfully so. He believes vegetables have been under-appreciated in the food community. "They were basically like a second or third thought," he recently told Mashed. But fortunately, plant-based diets have been growing in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons, and Ripert said, "It's a trend that I believe will not disappear or die."

As well, he said highlighting vegetables is all about the greater good. "I'm always thinking about the well-being of the planet, the well-being of Earth — human beings and animals as well," he shared. In fact, scientific research has consistently proven that eating a plant-based diet may be one of the most effective ways to improve your health (via National Institutes of Health) as well as one of the easiest ways to help protect the planet, while axing out the carbon footprint of meat production (via UCLA). And that's without getting into any ethical debates about eating animals. 

"I thought creating ['Vegetable Simple'] will also help in some ways to improve our health and improve what's happening on the planet," said Ripert of his new cookbook. "We're talking about pollution and we're talking about animal suffering and so on ... the book is a little bit of all of that," he added. All the more reason to load up on leafy greens and plentiful produce on your next trip to the market.

You can learn more about Eric Ripert's work with City Harvest on the brand's website. If you want to show more support, click here to make a donation to help feed people in need.