Cutting back meat consumption can be a difficult thing to do, at least in the United States. Eating meat is so much a part of how I was raised that it’s really hard to break the habit or slow it down. But there are a lot of good reasons to do so.
1. Better for your grocery bill.
This is a reason that many of us can get on board with these days. Beans, lentils, brown rice, barley and so forth cost much less than meat and are great sources of protein. They’re also nicely filling. All you have to do is learn to cook them in ways you enjoy.
2. Better for the environment.
Another great reason, even if it’s less of a motivator for many people who are far more concerned with their budget. Grains have a much lower environmental impact than meat. Animals eat a lot of grain, but the amount of meat you get from them is much less.
You will also significantly cut your carbon footprint. Meat production overall is very hard on the environment.
3. Less handling of raw meat.
While the big salmonella stories recently have related to foods such as spinach, the mishandling of raw meat is a very common source of food poisoning. Just think of how quickly you reach the ‘use by’ date of any meats you buy, versus how long grains last. A part of the food poisoning risk with meat is how fast germs can grow in it.
4. How many farm animals are treated.
If the ethics worry you, then the treatment of farm animals is a big deal. There are farms that treat their animals far better than the factory farms that produce the more affordable meats. And of course there are all the hormones and antibiotics used on factory farm animals.
5. It can be healthier.
This one really depends on you. It’s possible to eat unhealthy without meat, but if you’re trying to eat well and eat less meat, it’s pretty healthy. You’ll probably have less fat in your diet, for one thing. You can cut the odds of getting many health problems simply by eating less meat. It’s not a guarantee, just lower odds.
If you want to cut back on meat but still like to have it every day, just work on how you serve it. Go heavy on the vegetables when you stir fry, for example. I’ve found chopping the meat into pieces can make it look as though there’s more on my plate as well, so I eat less of it.
You can also try just having meat no more than once a day. I enjoy vegetarian lunches many days, and just rarely take the time for any meats with breakfast. I don’t miss it most of the time.
Plan regular vegetarian dinners too. My husband isn’t much of a fan of vegetarian meals, but I have some recipes he enjoys well enough, despite his regular suggestions of meats I could add in “to make it better.” He eats them, so that’s good enough. My kids aren’t big meat eaters, so some vegetarian meals go down much faster that ones featuring meat.
It’s really not as hard as it seems to cut back on meat. Just pick steps that you are comfortable with and go from there.