Food & Drink
How Can I Reduce My Meat Consumption?
Livestock production comes at a huge environmental cost, which is why the simple act of going meat-free just one day a week can make a huge difference.
Dear Recyclebank: How can I reduce my meat consumption and still get the nutrients I was getting from meat? –Floyd W.
Dear Floyd: If you have made the choice to consume less meat, congratulations! You’re among a growing number of conscious consumers who are reducing their meat consumption for the health benefits and for environmental reasons. And remember, this doesn’t mean you have to cut meat out of your diet altogether. Many savvy eaters are realizing that when you eat less meat, you can put your money into getting the best meat possible, when you do occasionally eat it. This is better for you and better for encouraging a more environmentally friendly food system by “voting with your dollars.” You can certainly maintain a well balanced diet with less meat!
Below are 5 things to help you cut down your meat consumption:
1. Transition to less meat with this flexitarian meal plan.
2. Replace meat with a tasty alternative. Find some great meatless-protein ideas here.
3. Get more than enough protein, without eating meat.
4. Grow your meat-free recipes list here.
5. Take the 30-day meatless challenge and learn amazing new recipes!
If you’re not yet convinced you should eat less meat, let’s explore some of the environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption.
Avoiding livestock production — including meat and dairy — is one of the biggest ways you can reduce your negative environmental impact on the planet.
Want to save the rainforest? Eat less beef. Unfortunately, one-fifth of the biologically diverse Amazon rainforest has already been cut down to make room for raising resource-intensive cattle, leading to higher amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: From fossil-fuel-burning logging machinery; from the fact that there’s fewer carbon-trapping trees; and from increased methane emissions from the livestock that replaced the trees.
Ruminant animals grow for meat and milk, such as cows, emit high levels of methane as a result of their natural digestive process, which contributes as much as 36 percent of US methane emissions; that’s more than double the methane emissions of landfills!
Livestock cultivation also requires huge amounts of fresh water, more than any other food.
The simple act of going meat-free just one day of the week can actually make a huge difference in reducing environmental damage. And contrary to some myths, for most people, eating less meat does not limit one’s health. Nutritionally, you can supplement meat products with other sources of protein, vitamin B, iron, and zinc, such as nuts, seeds, produce, baked beans, and legumes.
There are also a variety of delicious meat stand-ins such as seitan, tofu, jackfruit, tempeh, and mushrooms, which can all be creatively made into a wide variety of textures and flavors.
The key to a successful transition to eating less meat is to start slowly and see what feels right for you. Remember, red meat is the biggest culprit, so if you reduce beef and keep chicken; you’re still helping the environment and making progress! If you’re serious about cutting meat out altogether, you might also want to team up with a nutritionist to create a meal plan. Keeping a food log can also be a fun and inspiring way to track your and your family’s progress.
SOURCES: EPA, Science Mag
Have you reduced your meat consumption lately? Share your experience — and recipes — in the comments!
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