If you are a meat eater, and have no intention of giving it up. Your view is acknowledged and respected. Many, eating a balanced diet, are leading healthy lives. Unfortunately, many Americans have adopted a Western diet, often described as the SAD (Standard American Diet). Heavy in animal products, lots of sugar, fat, and salt. Low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
If you need motivation to move away from the SAD diet, reduce your meat consumption, gain some tips to transition,PLUS some recipes, you're in the right place!
Eating meat, in moderation, can provide protein and a variety of important vitamins and nutrients, like iron, zinc, B-12, B-6, and niacin. However, there is mounting evidence that eating too much meat (especially processed and red meat) is associated with a variety of chronic health problems. Click here to read more on this, including studies with scientific data.
Reducing meat consumption is one way to work on improving our health. Eating less meat should include an increase in consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains--all of which are nutrient dense.
What About Protein?
While protein is an important part of a balanced healthy diet, most people, even vegetarians, get more than enough protein. Fiber, however, is one component of a healthy diet that many meat eaters do not get enough of, as detailed in the video below.
Confession here...both my husband and I grew up in "meat and potatoes" families. I'm not sure we could go completely vegan, but we have definitely been increasing our intake of fruits, veggies, and grains, while eating less meat. When we choose meat, we choose organic and local when possible (Choices carries local organic beef and pork in our freezer section.) The chicken we carry is not local, but we have certified organic, and other chicken cuts that are not organic but are Non-GMO Project Verified (raised in Indiana.) Our frozen seafood is sustainably caught and processed.
Can You See Yourself as a Flexitarian?
Flexitarian is a term used to describe a person who mostly eats a plant-based diet, but still occasionally consumes meat, poultry and fish. This seems to be a more realistic goal for us. We continue to work on it! And if we can do it, anyone can!
Where To Start?
Change usually begins with motivation.
Here are some compelling reasons to reconsider your carnivorous diet.
BENEFITS OF EATING LESS MEAT
(see my resources at the end of this post for more details
and links to studies with data)
Your Health: Going meatless even once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
The Environment: Eating less meat can also help reduce our carbon footprint and save precious resources like fossil fuels and fresh water.
Your Wallet: Meat tends to be more expensive partly because of the production costs (land, feed, transportation.) Reducing your meat intake will free up more of your budget for high nutrition fruits and vegetables.
Animal Welfare: The majority of meat is from factory farms where animals are kept in small cages or tight spaces for their brief and painful lives. Eating less meat means fewer animals living in these conditions.
For those of you who are still on the fence, do not feel compelled to drop everything at once.
Keep your eating habits moving in the right direction.
Every step forward is a cause for celebration! Try these suggestions!
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
Step 1—Eliminate processed meat. The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as a carcinogen. Choose real organic, local meat over lunchmeat, hot dogs, and fast food options.
Step 2—Cut your meat serving size in half! At every meal, reflect on the serving size you would normally eat, and replace half of it with whole grains or veggies. You will gradually feel fuller with less meat.
Step 3—Eliminate red meat. After you get rid of bologna and chicken nuggets, red meat is the next to go. It’s not as unhealthy as processed meats, but worse than poultry.
Step 4— Build meals around vegetables instead of meat. Change the way you view your plate. Make room for more whole grains and veggies!
Step 5—Observe Meatless Monday. Every Monday plan a meat-free meal. This is a sure way to begin cooking new recipes and trying new ingredients.
Simple Flavorful Recipes
You will have the greatest success in making this transition if you choose simple, flavorful recipes so you won't miss the meat.
Here are a few that worked for us!
To add a little more substance to this recipe, I did a quick saute of some sliced onions, peppers, and mushrooms and added them to my squash before topping with the enchilada sauce and cheese. Also garnished with sliced jalapenos. No time to make homemade enchilada sauce, so I used real food enchilada sauce from Choices :) Click here for the recipe!
I know! No noodles or meat?! How can this hit the spot?! The roasted veggies make up for the missing noodles and meat. I did not use zucchini, but instead increased the eggplant (I used baby eggplant because the skin is more tender and I didn't want to peel them!) This even passed the college kid test at my house...and it doesn't get harder to please than a meat-eating college kid :) For the prepared marinara sauce I used Cadia Roasted Garlic pasta sauce from Choices! Sometimes Weightwatchers recipes can be hit or miss, but this one is a winner! Click here for the recipe!
This soup is a Rachael Ray 30 Minute Meal that actually is a 30 minute meal! It is NOT completely vegetarian but is a great transition food. I substituted uncured, anti-biotic free bacon for the pancetta and used chicken bone broth for the liquid base. Initially, I used less spinach than called for so my kids wouldn't look at the green leaves floating in their soup and turn their noses up. Haha!
Make it vegan??
At Choices, we carry meatless “bacon bits” that i’ve used to substitute for the bacon, to lend flavor without the meat, then used “no-chicken” chicken broth (YEP! There is such a thing! And you can find it on our shelves next to the rest of our broths.) You can also choose vegetable broth, as well. These substitutions DID NOT affect the flavor—just as delicious!
The aroma while it cooks has the whole family asking when the soup will be ready to eat! Click here for the recipe!
WITH A QUICK GOOGLE SEARCH, YOU'LL FIND MANY HEALTHY MEATLESS MEAL IDEAS.
ENJOY THE ADVENTURE OF TRYING NEW, FLAVORFUL RECIPES WHILE EATING HEALTHIER!
RESOURCES, INCLUDING LINKS TO STUDIES:
Are You Curious?
Would You Like to Learn More?
Upcoming Events at Choices
For Motivation and Information
Sunday, April 14th
Forks Over Knives FREE Movie Screening
From the Forks Over Knives website (www.forksoverknives.com):
"Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions. Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.
Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that many of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.”
Choices is excited to offer you the opportunity to view this film, free of charge. The interest in plant based diets is growing. Are you ready to consider a vegetarian or vegan diet? Learn more about this approach of using diet to improve health.
Space is limited, so you must register to attend. Click here to save your seat.
Sunday, April 28th
Vegetarianism: A Beginner's Guide
Whether you’re looking to go vegan or just incorporate “Meatless Mondays” into your routine, join us for this presentation on how to adopt this healthy lifestyle full-time or part-time.
Jody Perrecone will be leading this class. She is a certified nutrition consultant, graduating with honors from Bauman College and has a certification in plant-based nutrition from e-Cornell University. She is the founder of Perrecone Wellness, LLC and works one-on-one with individuals and with employees at corporations. Jody also facilitates the CHIP Wellness Program in Rockford.
All who attend will receive:
a FREE Vegetarian Starter Kit,
and FREE food samples!
Space is limited. You must register to attend! Click here to save your seat.