Most Americans eat too much meat. It’s a big part of the standard American diet, bigger than it needs to be. There are a lot of good reasons to cut back on meat, including consuming less saturated fat, health concerns, decreasing your environmental impact, and cost. The hard part is actually doing so. Today I’d like to share some ways to cut back on your meat consumption.
1. Participate in Meatless Mondays
Just skipping meat one day a week isn’t too big a change. Meatless Mondays have gained some popularity, and there’s even a website with all kinds of ideas to help you do it.
I do know how hard it can be to get some families to accept any vegetarian meals at all. My husband used to comment with every vegetarian meal on which meat he thought would improve it. Then I told him one day how much that pissed me off and pointed out how it really wasn’t so different from our daughter’s habit of announcing that she disliked unfamiliar meals before trying them. That was a habit of hers we’d been trying to break, so pointing out the similarity really made him think.
2. Eat Smaller Portions of Meat
If you have trouble giving up meat completely with your meals, you can always go for smaller portions. The portion size many people eat is too big anyhow when it comes to meat.
You can also think of meat as flavor, rather than a major component of the meal. Use a small amount of ground beef or ground sausage in pasta sauce, for example. If you’re making stir fry, add more vegetables and less meat.
3. Buy Grass Fed Beef
Grass fed beef costs a lot more than other beef, and that will encourage you to eat less of it. Many say it’s healthier for you and of course better for the cattle.
You can do similar things for other types of meat you eat. Pay attention to the conditions in which the animals were raised. You’ll pay more for the meat, but it will probably have done less environmental damage and may be better for you. You can find sources at eatwild.com. I don’t get results very close to me, but you may do better.
4. Eat Meat Only One Meal a Day
You don’t have to have meat at every meal. Pick one meal a day and make it vegetarian. You may have to experiment to figure out the recipes you enjoy most, but that can be the fun part. It’s an excuse to try new food combinations. I have a fondness for black bean and artichoke burritos, for example. I usually keep some beans in the freezer and assemble the rest fresh, although I suspect you could make a bunch and freeze them if you prefer.
Remember that there are many other places to get your protein, and they’re often cheaper than meat. Get used to making meals with other protein sources, and you may find that they can taste great too. Do a lot of experimenting to find recipes that work for you and your family.