5 Easy Steps to Eating Less Meat
This post written by guest blogger—Anne Hilton
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to eat less meat, changing your eating habits can be tough. Below are some tips for easing the transition towards a healthier and less meat-y lifestyle.
1. Change your perspective on meals.
Growing up in South Texas, our family dinners always included a meat dish as the focal point of the meal, surrounded by secondary side dishes of vegetables or potatoes. If meat tends to be the hero of your dinners, with veggies relegated to supporting roles, change the focus of your meals.
Find or create recipes that celebrate fresh produce, ask your friends for their favorite vegetarian recipes, and strive to create entrees that include a variety of flavors.
A favorite pasta of ours celebrates the bounty of summer with fresh pesto, yellow squash, and zucchini—all tossed with a combination of regular and spinach fettuccine for a colorful dish.
2. Participate in Meatless Monday.
“Meatless Monday” was first coined in World War I to convince US citizens to reduce their consumption of food staples for the war effort. The term was resurrected in 2003 by health advocate Sid Lerner to encourage better eating habits. Participating in the program is a great way to start your work or school week on a healthy kick. The Meatless Monday website has excellent resources and recipes to reference.
If your goal is to cut meat out of your diet entirely, add another meatless day after eating meatless for a few Mondays. Then, add another day each week until you’re only eating meat on special occasions or when you go out.
3. Try new types of cuisine and diversify your palate.
Many types of cuisine use meat sparingly, and it’s easy to find delicious and healthy foods that expand your cultural experiences without expanding your intake of meat.
Start in your comfort zone with types of cuisine you’ve tried, and then gradually keep trying new foods.
4. Replace meat with hearty substitutes.
Swap out the meat in your recipes for hearty, filling ingredients. Throw some beans or tofu in your stir-fries. Marinate portobello mushrooms and grill them or stuff them with veggies.
Avoid “meat” replacements like vegetarian sausages for now—you’ll just end up comparing the “meat” to animal meat and thinking about what you’re missing. Processed vegetarian “meats” also tend to be expensive and are not as healthy as using un-processed ingredients like mushrooms or beans.
One of our favorite lazy dinners is throwing together a stir fry with tofu. Not a tofu fan? Try Moosewood Restaurant’s Easy Baked Tofu recipe to change your tune.
5. Pledge to eat locally, seasonally, and sustainably. Learn where your food comes from.
The simplest way to reduce your intake of meat is to pledge to eat food grown locally, seasonally, and sustainably. Pledge to eat meat from farms that raise their animals sustainably and humanely. Purchasing your food from organic suppliers like Full Circle—suppliers that tell you where your food is coming from—is a great, easy way to fulfill this pledge.
Anne’s foodie roots began in grad school, when she got tired of cooking the same stir fry every night from the same bag of frozen vegetables. She began her blog, Rainy Day Veggies, in response to numerous requests for her favorite recipes. When not trying new recipes or veganizing old ones, Anne can be found getting her hands dirty in letterpress studios, wandering around with a camera in hand, or chasing her dog through Marymoor Park with her wife Katie.