5 ways to eat LESS meat without eating NO meat
Here's what to do if you can't give up the flavor of meat but still want to be healthier
Interested in eating less meat, but can’t commit to being a full on vegetarian, because… bacon? We feel you! But regardless of how you feel, eating less meat is actually great for you and the environment! Wondering why? Meat is extremely energy intensive to produce, all the way from how much food is needed to feed animals, to the energy required to process and ship the meat to you (3). This makes livestock a major contributor to greenhouse gases, and therefore climate change (3). In fact, scientists have found that eating a more plant rich diet is the 4th most effective thing we can be doing to help stop climate change (4).
Hey, we’re not condemning meat eating though and we get that it can be hard if you’re looking to make the transition to eating less meat more often! Whether it’s because you love the taste of meat, or someone in your household won’t give it up, or even because vegetarian based recipes seem like a mountain of work, the transition can be discouraging. BUT it doesn’t have to be! With a couple tweaks and ingredient swaps, you can have a less meat meal prepped without any loss of flavor and still feel great that you’re doing something good for you and the planet. Bonus – you can do less meat meals multiple times a week without feeling like the carnivore in you isn’t being satisfied. That’s a win in our book!
Here’s some quick tips on how to eat less meat
1. Buy less of it – by having less of it in convenient access, you’re not going to be tempted to add a ton of meat into what you’re making (1). Before heading to the grocery store, think of how much meat you’re planning to buy, then cut that amount in thirds, or a half, and substitute it for plant-based protein sources. If you’re making a chicken and broccoli stir-fry, just use one chicken breast instead of two, and sub in some mushrooms, carrots, and green beans to bulk up the meal.
2. Change the star of the show – meat centered dishes are delicious, we get it! But you can still get all the flavor of the meat without having a whole pork roast or steak as the main dish of a meal. Here’s our mantra, “meat as a side dish, not as a main dish” (1).
When we’re hungry for steak, we like to grab some friends (it’s really an excuse for a get together), split the steak and then order a vegetarian main dish.
3. Diversify your protein sources – believe it or not, plants are high in protein too! If you’re not sure what plant-based protein sources are out there, check out this website for some awesome ideas (1). Instead of General Tso’s chicken, try General Tso’s tofu or cauliflower, it’s so easy to sub out stir-fry dishes that utilize meat with firm tofu or a bulky vegetable. Then see #2 and have some meat as a side dish.
4. Use the stock or fat – if you’re making a soup or cooking grains, use stock in place of water, it’ll give your dish the meaty flavor you’re looking for without actually having to use meat (2). Same thing goes for fat. Our go to favorite is bacon or ham, because you definitely don’t need a lot to pack a punch with flavor.It might be almost a crime to make roasted brussels sprouts without bacon. Just cook up a few pieces of bacon to your liking, crumble them up and toss in with roasted brussels sprouts. Your tongue will thank you for the flavor and your stomach will thank you for the fiber! You can also use a few pieces of bacon or a small bit of sausage or chorizo to add a lot of meaty flavor to an otherwise vegetarian soup or pasta sauce.5. Substitute part of it out – if a recipe says a pound of meat, sub in half for cooked lentils, beans, tofu, or a similar plant-based protein source. You’ll still get the meaty flavor and a healthy dose of fiber too. Less meat spaghetti bolognese anyone? Substitute 1 cup of cooked lentils for a ½ pound of ground beef and no one will be the wiser.
Still not sure how to proceed? We’ve rounded up 5 of our favorite recipes that incorporate the techniques we’ve talked about to amp up the veggies while still keeping all the flavor of the meat. What are you waiting for? Grab and apron and get cooking!
- Sliced Strip Steak with Arugula and Parsley
- Spiced Jasmine Rice Pilaf
- Lamb Chili
- Sesame Ginger Bok Choy and Pork over Quinoa
- Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower and Bacon Herbed Breadcrumbs