It may seem obvious, but one of the first steps you can take in reducing your consumption of red meat is to simply eat a little less of it!
This approach can be a range of steps on its own. Figure out what works for you, and keep moving forward. “Less” can be a variety of strategies. For example:
- Focus on eating at least one type less:
- For your health, perhaps start with reducing the processed meats in your diet like bacon, sausages, and cold cuts (note that with processed meats it’s not just red meat that may be a problem, but any processed meat, like turkey bacon or lunch meat, and chicken sausage).
- Then move onto the red meat you consume most often, like beef, pork, and lamb. For your health and the health of the planet, try focusing on reducing your consumption of lamb and beef especially. Beef is one of the most impactful animal foods to produce. In the U.S. alone, beef accounts for 36% of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions—a key contributor to climate change.
- If you eat red meat multiple times a day—for example, breakfast sausages, a ham sandwich for lunch, and steak at dinner—try cutting down your consumption to once a day.
- If you eat red meat once a day, see if you’re able to reduce the portion size a bit. A single instead of a double hamburger? A few fewer slices of bacon? Or, if a recipe calls for a pound of beef, maybe you can buy just half and adjust a few other ingredients?
- If you’ve ever had ground beef in a pasta sauce, you’ve already experienced this concept. Alongside the sautéed veggies and simmered tomatoes, ground beef provides some flavor and texture—but at a quantity much less than if you were serving whole meatballs over the pasta; or if you cut out the pasta altogether and served a slice of meatloaf with tomato sauce.
- With this strategy, there’s no change in flavor, but it can be an upgrade for your health. For example:
- From there, how about eating red meat fewer times per week? Or only eating it on the weekends? Once a week? Once every other week? A few times each month? Only when you’re dining out?
- You could also try saving red meat only for special occasions, like a holiday, birthday, or an event. For example, think about eating beef as a splurge, rather than an everyday option—the way many of us think about lobster.
Take it a step further:
It’s important to remember when you’re cutting out red meat to replace it with healthy options—not refined grains or highly-processed foods. For example, if you’re thinking of a meal with red meat as the star, see if you can replace it with a better option, like poultry or seafood:
More plate upgrades:
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