More people today choose to reduce their meat intake than ever. Doing so offers considerable benefits to human health and the environment.
You might be one of those wondering how you can downsize your steak intake and evaluating whether it’s worth the trouble. You don’t have to dedicate yourself to a vegan lifestyle. Here are four painless ways to cut back on red and overprocessed meat and why you should do so.
Bring Back Fish Friday
You might have heard of the Catholic practice of eating fish on Fridays. They fast on Fridays during Lent to honor Jesus’ sacrifice but consider fish an okay meal on these occasions. When you see the “Friday fish fry” signs emerge in the spring, it’s to celebrate this tradition.
Why not embrace fish Friday to reduce your red and over-processed meat consumption regardless of your religious persuasion? You’ll still get your daily protein intake and so much more. Research published in Nutrients identifies seafood as the best source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are critical for optimal neurological functioning. Adequate intake can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and possibly improve mood, easing depression.
If you typically go out to eat on Fridays to celebrate the weekend’s start, why not book your next reservation at a seafood house? Fish also tastes divine when wrapped in aluminum foil and placed on the grill with a little lemon and butter.
Embrace Meatless Monday
Why not make two days of your week free of beef and pork by embracing meatless Mondays? Doing so offers considerable benefits for the planet. Food production accounts for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and much of it has to do with methane. Cows produce this ozone-depleting substance through flatulence.
You won’t even miss the meat if you get creative. Your kids might find they enjoy loaded quinoa tacos even more than the beef-filled variety and request a repeat performance on Tuesday.
Investigate Meat Substitutes
It’s now easier to get your plant-based groove on than ever before, even if you enjoy the taste and texture of meat. Many of today’s supplements feature heme, a soy product that even makes your burger appear to bleed — without a single cow suffering a cut. You can find anything from sausages to ground beef using the stuff, opening the doors to recipes like lasagne, meatballs for spaghetti, and supreme pizza with all the “meats.”
However, you don’t have to go the heme route if you don’t want the realistic bloody burger look. You can also find products that use black beans and hemp seeds to make patties ready for the grill. If your kids go gaga for chicken nuggets, you can find plant-based varieties that never leave you biting into a crunchy bit of minced bone — your littles might like them better than the “real” deal.
Get Plant-Based Protein Savvy
Maybe you want to experiment with a vegetarian, even a vegan lifestyle. If so, you have one hurdle to overcome to protect your health — getting enough protein. This macronutrient is essential for rebuilding muscle and connective tissue.
Fortunately, you don’t need to eat any animal products to get what you need. Certain combinations provide you with all nine essential amino acids to make a complete protein. Combining legumes and grains, a la beans and rice, gives you a matching set, as does whole-grain bread with peanut butter.
The Problem With Red and Processed Meats
Why should you cut back on red and processed meats, anyway? Here are three solid reasons to reduce your intake.
1. Causes Cancer
According to the World Health Organization, processed meat qualifies as a carcinogen and red meat is a likely culprit. In particular, excess consumption causes cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.
Use caution when you purchase lunchmeat, even if you opt for leaner chicken and turkey. While these may be lower in fat than bologna, they still contain nitrates that could spur cancer cell growth.
2. Causes Heart Disease
Red and many processed meat contain significant levels of saturated fats. These can lead to fatty deposits within your blood vessels that increase your risk of a heart attack.
Pay attention to your numbers next time you get your cholesterol tested. You could see the proof of the benefits your dietary changes have made when you get your next blood draw.
Cut Back on Red and over-processed Meat These 4 Ways
Cutting back on red and over-processed meat benefits your health and that of the planet. Follow the four steps above to painlessly improve your diet by reducing your intake.