8 Easy Ways to Eat Less Meat

I am not a vegetarian. Filet mignon cooked medium rare is my dream dinner. But, a few years ago, I started learning about the environmental impact of meat production and decided our family needed to do its part to reduce that negative impact on the earth. When I made the goal to “eat less meat,” I admit I felt intimidated. I was venturing into new territory and wasn’t sure how well I could stick to the goal. In the end I discovered that cutting back on meat was actually easy! Our family never felt like we were “missing” anything because we were able to still enjoy meat by using it in a more thoughtful and resourceful way.

Here are the things our family did to make our “eat less meat” journey doable and enjoyable!

  • Eating Less Meat is Easy! 1 of 9
    Easy Ways to Eat Less Meat

    Have a positive impact on your health and Mother Earth by following these simple tips!

  • Stretch Your Meat! 2 of 9
    Asian Spinach Chicken Salad

    Choose recipes that allow you to stretch your meat's use. Soups, pasta dishes and salads are all great ways to incorporate meat without using a lot of it. (Recipe pictured: Asian Spinach Salad)

  • Choose a Vegetable as the Star Player 3 of 9
    Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    Oftentimes we plan our meals around the meat. Flip that thinking! Choose a vegetable as the star player, then build your meal around that. For example, instead of a steak dinner where you might just throw a few spears of broccoli on the side and eat half a pound of beef, have a sweet potato dinner where a small slice of meat plays second fiddle to a plateful of roasted sweet potatoes and other veggies.  

  • Beans, Beans, Beans! 4 of 9
    Dried beans

    Beans are a fabulous substitute for meat in many recipes. They're filling and full of all kinds of good stuff fiber, protein, vitamins, and more! They are also low on the glycemic index. 

  • Buy Organic, Sustainably-Raised and/or Local Meat 5 of 9
    Choose sustainably-raised meat

    Be more thoughtful about the meat you are buying. Resist the urge to buy the cheapest meat and instead look for meat that is organic, sustainably-raised and/or locally-raised. It may cost more, but you're eating less of it so it all evens out! I definitely find I buy less meat now that buy more expensive meat from these sources!

  • Use up all the meat! 6 of 9
    Orange Rosemary Roasted Chicken

    If you buy a chicken, use up all the meat then boil the bones for stock! Buy a full pork loin and use the different cuts for different meals. Look for more interesting cuts of meat at the store and experiment. Waste not, want not! (Recipe pictured: Orange Rosemary Roasted Chicken)

  • Focus on Side Dishes 7 of 9
    Serve lots of side dishes to cut back on meat

    If you have lots of flavorful, appealing side dishes, the need to fill up on meat decreases significantly!

  • Start Small! 8 of 9
    Meatless Mondays

    Every little bit helps! You don't have to become a vegan to have an impact on the environment, and any time you are more thoughtful about what you eat you will help your own health. Start with a goal, like "Meatless Mondays," and build from there. Keep your goals realistic and you'll find it just gets easier and easier. (Visit Meatless Monday for inspiration!)

  • Go Big on Flavor and Experiment! 9 of 9
    Flavorful side dishes

    Just because there is less (or no!) meat on the plate doesn't mean your food won't taste as good. Go big on flavor, play with new spices, experiment with recipes. Cutting back on meat isn't a drag, it's an opportunity for some fun in the kitchen! (Recipes pictured: Aunt Kathy's Sweet Black Beans, which are packed with all kinds of flavor, and Cilantro Lime Slaw, loaded with zing and kick! Click here to make.)

Read more from Jane at This Week for Dinner. For more updates, follow Jane on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

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