Conscious Consumption: How to Eat Less Meat
While it may feel like it’s what your body needs, it may be slowly killing you. Meat has been a staple in our culture but studies have shown vegetarians have a 40% lower risk of heart disease.
You Don’t Have to Give Up Bacon Entirely
Before you click away with the thought that you could “never give up bacon” stick with me. Changing your habits doesn’t mean you have to forgo enjoying meat. The truth is any reduction of meat intake is beneficial for the planet in any capacity that you can do, with many turning to Meatless Mondays to lessen their consumption.
Beyond this, once you try meat alternatives, your taste buds become accustomed to what you give your body after about two weeks by the way and your preferences will start to change even if you think you’re a die-hard meat person.
Sometimes the biggest barrier ends up being that we just don’t where to start or what new habits to focus on. It can feel like a large undertaking when we work 40 hour weeks and try to maintain a healthy life balance.
That’s why we’re here to get you started with five simple ways to start eating less meat without feeling a hunger deficit.
5 Ways to Start Eating Less Meat:
Snack on Nuts
Nuts have natural fat that will help us keep our energy levels up. Cashews, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pine-nuts are great in salads, on a fruit and cheese plate, or just in between meals.
Make yourself a trail mix to have with you in case of a midday craving. The best part about this? You can customize it with whatever dried fruit of nuts that you want!
Try this: Trail Mix Recipe
They are high in nutrients which will help your body and brain function optimally. Having healthy snacks handy gives you an option when you get a fast food craving for a burger that is likely to leave you sluggish and even give you indigestion.
Not into trail mix? We recommend trying nut butter with apple slices or energy bites, both are delicious and satisfying snacks that will keep you full for hours.
Try this: Energy Bite Recipe
Replace Burgers with Plant-Based Patties
Dr. Praeger is a good plant-based burger product that is packed with flavor. You can find many different options ranging from bean-based patties to mushroom-packed ones. Try a range and see which ones you like. Keep an eye on the sodium content of these because some are ultra-processed or consider making your own.
There are many ways to make your own plant-based burgers such as a mixture of onion, cannellini beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans with your favorite spices. Soy-based products which are common meat replacements usually have lower cholesterol but higher sodium contents. If you do consume soy, always choose non-GMO soy and eat it in moderation. Soy is high in estrogen and GMO soy is linked to cancer.
Try this: Vegan Portobello Mushroom Burger
Replace Whey Protein Powder with Pea Protein
Want to build muscle but avoid animal products? Many athletes and gym rats are hooked on the easy to find whey protein powders but pea protein is a great replacement and reasonably priced. Trader Joe’s carries one for just $14. Whey may not be high in cholesterol but The China Study found that animal products increased the risk of cancer which is the second leading cause of death in the US. There are many nutrient-dense plant-based protein powder options available online.
Healthforce is an excellent bio-available option. Spinach is also very high in protein (higher than nuts or beans) and a great addition to any meal or smoothie.
Fall in Love with Hummus
Browse the hummus aisle and you’ll find all different interesting flavors of hummus including roasted red pepper, eggplant, garlic, jalapeno, and many more. Hummus is a great filling addition to your diet which can go well on bread, crackers, sliced veggies or sandwiches.
It is usually a blend of tahini, garlic, garbanzo beans, salt, and oil. There is nothing quite as refreshing and mouth-watering as a really fresh-made hummus. It is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and offers both protein and a dose of the much needed healthy fat which provides energy.
If hummus isn’t your thing, do not fret, there are lots of other dips that do not require any meat products that are incredibly tasty.
Try this: Edamame & Avocado Dip
Enjoy Crumbled Meat Replacements
Walnuts steamed in water and then crushed and spiced to your liking make a great meat substitute. Sunflower seeds ground in a food processor also make a fun taco filler. You can find crumbled meat to add to your pasta sauce in the frozen food aisle at most grocery stores as well.
Beyond Meat is a delicious product with great flavor you can stock your freezer with. Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos are a favorite for many meat-lovers looking to reduce their meat consumption and a good snack to keep on hand in the freezer for guests.
Tips for Staying Full on Less Meat
Getting used to the higher fiber content in your diet can bring some indigestion so take your time switching your diet. You don’t have to change everything all at once and usually, you need to create new habits slowly if they are going to stick. Try replacing one meal a day with a plant-based protein to start or switch one of your main meat products with a plant-based option.
To keep your energy up and even find more of it, we recommend eating lots of superfoods like acai, goji berries, banana, almonds, avocados, and many more delicious gifts from mother nature. Every time you choose a plant-based option, you’re conserving precious the precious finite natural resource of freshwater which is used in high quantities for the production of meat. You are also reducing a greenhouse gas methane which is produced by farm animals and 30 times more powerful when it comes to trapping heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Remember, less meat doesn’t have to mean you have to change the type of food you enjoy. Lots of the recipes you already love are almost meatless, you just have to take the conscious effort to find alterations!
Try this: Hearty Vegetable Soup
What Next? It’s Time to Get Started!
Eating less meat will soon become a lifestyle that you don’t even think about anymore. At first, it may seem like a monumental decision each time you go for the plant-based option but your brain will start to just crave those things before you know it. Put in your mind that it will feel more normal in about a month which is the time they say it takes to create a new habit.