A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO EATING LESS MEAT
Written by Jenny Rose Edwards
So you want to eat less meat? Congratulations, you’re a reducetarian!
Wanting to reduce your meat consumption isn’t such an outlandish idea like it was a few years ago. There are countless of positive outcomes to eating less meat (like we showed you here), and people are beginning to realise that. It is so easy to be vegan and vegetarian in today’s society, and so it’s even easier to be a reducetarian.
But what if you have been a self-confessed carnivore for most of your life? Where do you even begin?
Well, keep reading to find out!
TREAT MEAT AS A SIDE DISH
Changing your attitude to meat is a great place to start. Most of us have always been taught that meat is the main star of any dish, steak and potatoes, chilli, chicken and rice, thanksgiving dinner, the list goes on. If you start seeing it as a treat that you only have occasionally, or as a side dish, then it will be easier for you to gradually cut it out of some of your meals.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Slow and steady wins the race! As much as people may insist that we are ‘against the clock’ when it comes to cutting our meat consumption, it just isn’t sustainable to go cold turkey (pun not intended). Each individual is so very different, and have very different circumstances too. It is much easier to cut down on meat consumption if you are a single adult, working from home. However, picture how difficult it would be for a single mother of young children. We live in a world that isn’t reducetarian friendly (just yet), and so it is much more convenient for people to consume animal products on a daily basis. If you allow yourself time to adapt to a reducetarian lifestyle, then you will learn a lot along the way, and it will get so much easier over time.
BE CREATIVE, BUT ALSO SIMPLE
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “eat a rainbow”? As in, make sure your meals are colourful and vibrant. Well, it is important to remember this, but it’s also okay if you sometimes want plain and simple meals, too. In an ideal world, we would all have plates full of fresh fruit and vegetables, however, that’s not always realistic. Don’t put stress on yourself to eat so extravagant, and creative all of the time. Smoothie bowls are fantastic, but sometimes jam on toast is just fine, too.
GET SMART WITH NUTRITION
Of course it’s fun to live off of the many delicious meat, and dairy replacements that restaurants and brands have to offer, but it will take its toll on your health after a while. Start to learn which whole foods provide you with vitamins, and how much you have to consume to get your daily recommended amount. You will be surprised at how many vegetables contain a good amount of protein. Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense leafy green vegetables you can eat, and accounts for 30% of its calories. Kale, broccoli and sprouts are more greens that have high-protein. D, iron, and B12 are other vitamins that vegans need to look out for, as they have to find plant-based sources. It might sound overwhelming, but getting all the right nutrients with less meat in your diet is easier than you think!
RECREATE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITE DISHES
If you experiment with how to re-create your all-time favourite meals, then you’re less likely to miss your ‘usual’ diet. There are vegan and vegetarian versions of almost everything now, so you have a lot of products to help you create your perfect dishes. If your favourite dish is Chicken Alfredo, you could learn how to make the best dairy-free Alfredo sauce, use the best faux chicken on the market (Gardein is a popular choice), and use whichever pasta that you usually would. It’s helpful to use all the usual plant-based ingredients that you would normally use, and that way you can almost trick your tastebuds into thinking it’s the exact same dish!
CONSUME ENOUGH CALORIES
Vegan and vegetarian foods contain a lot less calories than animal products, which is why people leading these lifestyles tend to lose weight easier. However, it’s actually easy to slip into the habit of not consuming enough calories. If you are used to eating a calorie-dense, meat diet, then it may be difficult for you to get sufficient calories with only plant foods. This is another reason why it’s important to take your time when moving toward becoming a reducetarian! If you are used to eating meat 3 meals a day, then start with cutting it down to 2, then 1, etc. Being able to consume more calories should be seen as a bonus, rather than a hinderance. Once you learn how much you can eat per day on a reducetarian diet, you’ll be over the moon!
GIVE IN TO YOUR CRAVINGS
… But meat-free versions of them instead! If you’re craving a beef burger, try the Beyond Burger. If you’re craving fish, try Quorn Fishless Sticks. There are alternatives for everything, even more obscure flavours, like smoked salmon! Chain restaurants are bringing out meat-free meals too (that aren’t just salads). Carls Jr. sells the Beyond Meat Burger, and Taco Bell have recently announced they are coming out with a new vegan and vegetarian menu.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Planning is a vital step for improving your diet, or if you want to lose weight. If you plan ahead, you’re less likely going to impulse eat, or snack uncontrollably. You need to plan realistically, and make sure you have planned enough food for yourself throughout the week. Bulk cooking is a great method for people who have less time in the evenings, and you will thank your past-self when you are tucking into a home cooked meal after work!
TRY, TRY AGAIN
If you slip up, and go back to a meat-heavy diet, don’t see it as failing. Ask yourself why you couldn’t keep it up, and improve from that! It’s not vital that you start again straight away. Maybe you weren’t informed enough, maybe you didn’t have enough time, maybe you relied on takeaways too much… There are lots of reasons as to why becoming a reducetarian didn’t work out for you the first time round, all that matters is that you try again when the time is right!