Do you want to reduce meat in your diet? Whether for environmental, spiritual, or health reasons, many people are making dietary changes which include reducing meat.
Here is a list of ways to reduce meat consumption without missing meat entirely. I promise, they aren’t difficult or complicated, and don’t require huge amounts of restraint and meal prep.
And, they were compiled with recognition of household struggles that many people face when trying to cut down meat consumption (avid meat eaters in the clan?).
Because, let’s face it… diet changes are hard enough for ourselves. But they are even harder when other people are involved in our meal routines.
So, check out some simple ways to reduce meat without arguments, fits, or tears. Hopefully.
1. Reduce meat by plate servings
You can definitely continue eating meat, but still find a way to reduce your intake, even by half! If you are cooking for a family, for instance, and usually cook 4 chicken breasts, try to cut down to 3 or even 2. To get the family used to seeing less meat on the plate, fill it with plant-based sides you know they love and can fill up on.
2. Reduce meat by cutting meat
Yes. Literally, slice the meat. If you go with #1 as a strategy, it’s a great idea to pre-slice the meat and place it on the plate. Odd, but it’s all about the visual. If the meat is cut, on a full plate, it might be less obvious that there isn’t as much meat as usual. Especially for families that are used to getting their own steak or chicken breast.
It’s an easy way to spread less more across more plates.
3. Feature the vegetables
Make vegetables stand out on your plate by trying some new, exciting veggie recipes. They can become the star of the show, with meat playing second fiddle (if it was even invited to play at the concert). Check out these recipes for some ideas to get you started!
4. Vary from the ‘meat, potato, vegetable’ layout
When presented in steak, patty, filet, or breast form, a meat eater will know when you’ve skimped. Instead of presenting the meat alone on the plate, next to veggies and a carb, add it to casseroles, pastas, rice dishes, stir fries, or stuffed vegetables. You can stretch a single steak or chicken into a four-person meal this way without much complaint. This one works especially well if you have an avid meat eater in the house who demands meat every meal. (Sometimes being good needs takes a little manipulation.)
5. Decide to go meatless once a week
Meatless Mondays was a way to promote conscious efforts to eat less meat. It’s a great way to routinely cut some meat out of your diet. Select any day you want! But it is best when you stick to a day of the week, because the idea is that you get used to preparing specifically for a meatless meal that day. It helps to create a habit around eating more plant-based foods.
6. Get creative
I get bored with routine sometimes. Not long ago, preparing meat dishes felt… well, routine. I knew what everything was going to taste like, the way I prepared it, and was getting bored. I thought, maybe vegetarian cuisine would be new to my palate. It might spice up my culinary life! I would be forced to check out new recipes and get creative in the kitchen. Fare thee well, boring meat dishes. I’ve just picked up some jackfruit and kohlrabi…
7. Start loving legumes
Beans, lentils, legumes are all great sources of protein. Use lentils prepared just like ground meat for a meal similar to taco or burritos. Make your own black bean patties. (So good and flavorful, your family might just start to prefer them over hamburgers!) Make bean-based soups with a grilled cheese for cold weather.
8. Avoid words like ‘meatless’
For those that are less than thrilled about reducing their meat intake, names like ‘meatless tacos’ just reminds meat eaters that they aren’t eating meat. And they’ll go into the meal resentful or feeling like they’ve missed out on something. (Aren’t we funny?) But it’s true. If a meat eater is expecting a taste-comparable meat replacement, and it doesn’t match (which it won’t), they will be disappointed. Even if that meat eater is you!
Think Tofu bacon… is that EVER going to be a bacon replacement? No. It’s just not. Vegetarians that develop a taste for tofu and accept their diet options might try it. But it’s not a great place to start your husband on the ‘less meat’ path.
But if he loves Mexican flavors, and things like burritos or tacos, make “Mexican lentil wraps”… literally tacos or burritos with lentils instead of meat. And it will taste nearly the same. Don’t try to sell them as tacos. Even though they are similar, if you give them their own name, they’ll find their own worth.
Let the meal stand on its own merit, not as a comparison to a meat-based counterpart. It’s a weird psychological trick, but you might find it makes a difference.
9. Eat out less
Eating at home means you can control what you cook. You limit your meat intake, or even decide not to prepare meat for dinner. (Guess who didn’t take the chicken out of the freezer?). But when you have a meal of variety in front of you, which usually includes 80% meat dishes, those are going to be more enticing than the vegetarian options. (Which are usually salads or veggies burgers if you aren’t at a specifically vegetarian restaurant.)
It’s much easier to control your diet at home.
10. Salads for dinner
This might not work for a lot of people. But just because you love meat doesn’t mean you hate a nice, tasty, crunchy salad. I LOVE salads. I keep them varied, with lots of different flavors, and they can be topped with meat, cheese, beans, or whatever. But a tasty salad with nuts, cheese, veggies, fruit, and varying greens will be filling, and can really reduce the amount of meat needed on a plate.
Eating better for your health and the environment likely means cutting down your meat intake. Hopefully these easy tips help that process go smoothly in your household. And maybe, juuuuuust maybe, you might start to enjoy eating less meat.
Looking for turkey replacements for Thanksgiving? Check out these delicious main courses that can get you away from serving a bird at your table.