How To Eat Less Meat

For our health and for the health of the planet, it is becoming more and more important to eat less meat. I am not saying less protein, just less meat. More people are becoming aware of the benefits of eating less meat, and meat that is locally sourced, antibiotic free, and grass fed. Due to our cultural traditions of eating meat centered meals, many don’t know where to begin.

Knowing How Much Protein You Need

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is .36 grams per pound each day. Generally, that is 46 grams of protein for a sedentary woman and 56 for a sedentary man. Of course this number will change depending on how active you are, your age, lifestyle, goals. etc. There is no one size fits all, that is why I recommend intuitive eating. But, you have to start somewhere. Start with 46 or 56 grams of protein and see how you feel, listen to your body. For reference, one chicken breast has 43 grams of protein.

So how much meat do you really need in one week? Animal protein has a lot of benefits, but according to the AHA (American Heart Association) too much can take a toll on your kidneys and lead to dehydration. Most of us are consuming too much. The recommended amount is 4 or 5 servings of lean meat a week and a limited amount of red meat. You can start by having meat with just one meal a day and when you are used to that, having a couple of meatless days.

Plant Protein Sources

  • Lentils – 18g per cooked cup
  • Beans – 12 to 14g per cooked cup
  • Nuts and seeds – 3 to 7g per 1/3 cup
  • Eggs – 6g each. (Not a plant obviously but worth mentioning as eggs have the highest biological value)
  • Avocado – 4g each
  • Whole grains – 5 to 7g per cup (wheat, rye, brown rice, etc).
  • Quinoa – 8g per cooked cup
  • Dark leafy greens and potatoes – 3 to 8 grams per cup ish.

Putting it all together

The most useful way to put this all together is to flip ingredients. Instead of having mostly meat on your plate and a side of vegetables, have mostly vegetables with a side of meat. For example, I made a Lebanese lentil salad the other day. That was the main portion of dinner, but I did make some chicken as well that could be mixed in with the salad or eaten on the side. This is also helpful advice for any kind of healthy shift. Flip the unhealthy thing with the healthier thing, then you can still have what you love but in smaller portions.

You’ll notice if you scroll through pinterest for recipes, most of them are meat centered. Ex: chicken tacos, chicken curry, chicken soup, hamburger stew, etc. In the idea of flipping things, I like to look up the vegetarian version of these kinds of foods. Then, I can make a recipe full of vegetables and just add in the meat if I want to. For example, I love curry. The chicken curry is always just chicken with curry sauce. If I make the vegetarian version, it is a diverse plate of vegetables in curry sauce.

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What do you do to eat less meat? Let me know in the comments!

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