5 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Meat Consumption
While there are plenty of health and environmental reasons to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, committing to such a big change can be daunting. For most of us, the best way to start is by simply eating less meat, rather than trying to completely eliminate it.
While exploring the versatility of plants (vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes), chances are you’ll soon find it quite easy to eat less meat and ultimately eliminate it from your diet completely.
Here are five simple ways to get started on your plant-based journey.
1. Get inspired
Maybe you find it difficult to imagine a meal without meat. But these days there are so many sources of inspiration, knowledge, and encouragement to provide you a whole new perspective on plant-based cooking and eating. Perhaps start out purchasing already prepared options from local restaurants and carry-out locations or just go for it and jump right into preparing recipes yourself. Check out cookbooks or search for well-tested recipes online. Begin researching your favorite cuisine, with the produce available in-season, or explore a grain or legume you are interested in trying.
2. Set aside some time
In the beginning, choosing recipes, shopping, prepping, and cooking in a new way requires more planning ahead. The better prepared you are to cook plant-based recipes, the less tempted you will be to fall back on the meat routine. Yes, there are many plant-based substitutes available, but choose them wisely. Keep the emphasis on whole ingredients, trying to eat as minimally processed as possible.
3. Introduce one fixed meatless day
Schedule at least one day a week where you eliminate meat from all meals. Perhaps obvious, but start simple and work your way up. Have your meatless day be the one where a meal or two is completely (or nearly) prepared and ready to go in advance. Make a casserole, soup, or stew ahead of time and work on a simple salad while it heats up. Cook the grain and chop all of the vegetables for an entrée salad, casserole, or stir fry the night before. In most cases you can prepare any sauce ahead of time too.
4. Make plants the stars of your plate
If you don’t want to make the switch all at once, reduce the amount of meat by putting more emphasis on the vegetables, grains or legumes. Maybe you want to start out by cooking half the amount of meat you normally would and make an extra “side dish”. Soon you’ll be thinking about the vegetables and grains as more than just sides, and naturally put more effort in their preparation. As you can, move away from the meat altogether.
5. Set realistic goals
Eliminating meat right away is not easy. Once you are ready, adjust your goals. Commit to a weekend free of meat or move on to a full meat-free week. Once you get going, we think you’ll see plant-based eating doesn’t have to be restricted or about what isn’t on the plate.