How to Incorporate Meat Alternatives: 5 Tips to Try This Week
In 2019, one-third of all U.S. households had at least one family member who ate a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or flexitarian diet. This number has grown significantly over the past decade, with thousands of people cutting meat from their diets. But why are people cutting back on meat? Is eating less meat healthy for families? If you’re looking for ideas on how to eat less meat, check out our guide for benefits, tips, and more!
Types of Plant-Based Diets
While vegetarian and vegan diets are the most well-known, there are dozens of diets that can help you eat less meat. Here are a few of the most common:
- Flexitarian: This broad term covers anyone striving to eat less meat. Some flexitarians may only eat meat at restaurants or on special occasions, while others may try to only consume meat a few days a week. If you’re interested in learning how to eat less meat, this is one of the easiest plant-based diets to switch to because of its flexibility.
- Pescetarian: Pescetarians don’t eat traditional meat (pork, beef, or fowl), but they do eat fish and shellfish. This diet is popular with those who want to cut out meat but don’t want to go completely vegetarian.
- Vegetarian: Most vegetarians are known as “lacto-ovo vegetarians,” meaning that they don’t eat meat, fish, or seafood, but they do eat dairy and eggs.
- Vegan: This diet is the strictest of the plant-based diets. Vegans typically do not eat anything related to animals, including meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, and honey.
The Benefits of Cutting Out Meat
Like with many other eating habits, you may have heard that eating less meat is good for your body or the environment. But what exactly does that mean? And how much of an impact can you make by eating less meat?
There are a number of health benefits of eating less meat. Eating a plant-forward diet reduces your risk of cardiovascular issues like heart disease and stroke, and can also reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Plus, there is evidence that eating a balanced diet low in animal protein can lower your risk of developing a number of types of cancers.
If you’re considering how to eat less meat, you may also wonder how it can help the environment. Eating a plant-based diet can help you lower your carbon emissions and combat climate change. Farming soy and vegetables takes considerably less water and energy than farming large livestock, meaning that you’ll be reducing water usage and waste by going plant-based.
How to Eat Less Meat This Week
You may think that you have to go cold-turkey and stop eating meat entirely. But the truth is that even consuming one or two less servings per week can make a difference! Here are some easy ways to eat less meat without completely changing your diet or totally restocking your fridge.
1. Cut Back Your Portions of Meat
The American Heart Association recommends two three-ounce servings of meat a day. But studies show that the average American eats 10 or more ounces per day. One of the easiest ways to eat less meat is to simply cut back your portions to the recommended amount.
In lieu of a big serving of meat, be sure to fill your plate with other protein-rich foods like:
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
- Whole grains like brown rice and quinoa
- Protein-packed vegetables like peas and spinach
By filling up on hearty, plant-based protein, you’ll be able to cut back on meat without feeling hungry an hour later.
2. Try Meatless Mondays
Choosing one day a week to cook meatless meals is another great way to cut back on your meat consumption. Whether its Monday or a weekend night when you have longer to prepare, try one of these family-friendly meatless meals:
If cooking a plant-based dinner that the whole family will like seems overwhelming, start with breakfast or lunch. These meals traditionally have less meat, and so it can be easier to cut out. Trading bacon or sausage for hash browns or avocado makes for a hearty, filing meal without the meat.
3. Cook Vegetarian at Home
While veggie-friendly restaurant offerings are much better than they used to be, it can be difficult to find vegetarian food at some restaurants. Instead of going cold turkey, try cooking vegetarian at home and having meat as a treat when you go out for dinner.
4. Try Plant-Based Meat and Meat Alternatives
In the past few years, meat alternatives have popped up in nearly every grocery store. These plant-based meat products are great for those looking to cut back on meat because they allow you to keep making the same meals you love with little alteration. Meat alternatives are also a great option for kids, who may not even notice the difference between a chicken nugget and a veggie nugget.
From hot dogs and hamburgers to sausage and holiday roasts, there are high-protein plant-based meals for everyone these days. If you’re interested in learning how to eat less meat, try some of our favorite meat alternatives:
- Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers: These burgers aren’t pretending to be meat, but they are packed with veggies and cook deliciously in the microwave or on the grill.
- Field Roast Sausages & Frankfurters: These sausages and hot dogs are made from a grain-based meat alternative and taste almost like the real thing. They’re perfect for everything from breakfast scrambles to summer barbeques.
- Gardein Mini Crabless Cakes: For seafood lovers, these “crabless” cakes are unbeatable. The texture and flavor are very similar to that of a traditional seafood cake.
- Beyond Ground Beef: Ground beef is a kitchen staple for many families, and thanks to Beyond, there’s no need to take tacos or spaghetti and meatballs off the menu! Beyond beef can be prepared ground or formed into meatballs or hamburgers for endless options.
5. Get Your Protein Elsewhere
If you work out regularly, you may think that a plant-based diet may not provide the fuel you need to build muscle. But there are dozens of world-class athletes who swear by a plant-based approach. When reducing the meat in your diet, consider trying more of these high-protein plant-based foods:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Leafy green vegetables
Making sure you get enough protein from plant-based alternatives will keep you from feeling hungry or dissatisfied, even after a tough workout.