I’m largely a vegetarian and my main reason for being so is climate change. So I do eat some sustainably harvested local seafood and game when it’s available. I also found that once I gave it up the health benefits were pretty great too. There are lots of great reasons to be vegetarian or even vegan besides that like animal welfare. There are probably lots of other reasons to limit your meat consumption too. The lady we’re working for right now is a vegan and part time farmer that’s really inspired me lately. But one of the subs on the job also brought us some of the best deer steaks I’ve ever eaten so there is that… It’s actually my new years resolution to be more mindful of all the animal products I eat and to go for the vegan option more option.
Given how carbon and water intensive eating meat and animal products are it is a good thing for the planet to eat less of it even if you’d never, ever give it up. If that’s not motivating enough limiting your animal intake will also save you tons of cash and probably make you a bit healthier too. I’m limiting my animal product intake by being more mindful but you can do the same with meat products. I know, you might doubt this but read on and at least let me try to convince you! PS I’m also not a believer in expensive and highly processed alternatives so there’s none of that. Beyond meat is pretty good though!
Cheese doesn’t HAVE to go on EVERYTHING
In North America we literally put cheese on everything. Here’s the thing though it’s not usually good high quality cheese. We put it on every burger, every pasta dish and even on most breakfast foods. I think we would all do well to just think about that and realize that cheese doesn’t really have to be in a lot of places that it is. In the past I’ve shredded basic grocery store brand cheese on pasta, put it in tacos and topped potatoes with it but it didn’t really add anything to the dish. It turns out spaghetti is just the same without a ceremonial sprinkling of cheese on top. Or only opt for yummy flavorful cheeses like asiago and then you can use way less of them!
If you won’t miss it don’t eat it
There are lots and lots of dishes where we throw in meat even though leaving it out the dish would be just as good things like:
- Marinara sauce
- Mixed in rice dishes casseroles or a stir fry
- Mac and cheese
- Pasta dishes in general
If you think about it you probably wouldn’t feel like you were missing the meat if you were to leave it out of those meals. Those dishes aren’t really about the meat anyway. Often times meat is just used as more of a garnish than anything else like in a salad. In that case save yourself the step and a few bucks and just skip it! The same is true of most of these dishes and animal products in general, well maybe not Mac and cheese but… That’s what I’ve been doing lately opting for a balsamic vinaigrette over creamy cucumber dressing and not topping things like bean chili with sour cream and some cheap shredded cheddar. Just as good and easily vegan!
Take it out of habits
There are a few things I eat or drink every single day or most days. Things like coffee, lemonade, evening snacks and fast food. Could you leave the sausage off your morning breakfast sandwich, opt for almond milk in your coffee or pick a vegan cracker to snack on and be just as happy? Even if you’re not eating a whole lot of modified milk ingredients in your Cheetos per serving if you snack on them three nights a week then you are consuming a lot there. I used to take milk in my coffee, then soy milk and you know what just sweetener is less work and just fine too. If you can take some meat or animal products out of something you eat everyday or most days it adds up to a big difference.
Embrace other cuisines
We tend to have animal products and meat in most of our traditional daily dishes in most parts of the world. We also tend to make the same things again and again for our families and so there’s the rut we’re stuck in. That’s not true for everywhere though certain cultures are known for being more vegetarian or dairy free and they too know how to make food taste good. Indian cuisine has many meat free favorites and due to a higher percentage of people being lactose intolerant asian cuisines are often dairy free. Even countries that are highly catholic will often have great meat free options for Fridays and or Wednesdays. Try some recipes from other cultures, see what you like and then put those in the rotation too!
When you do indulge… savor
I am not a vegan and truthfully not totally vegetarian either. That venison was great by the way! We eat a lot of garbage food that is made of animals all the time. Eating a great steak is preferable to most compared to a $2 burger. So go for option 1 over option 2 if that’s you. Skip processed meat at lunch in your sandwiches for the week and buy a yummy steak for a weekend dinner instead. You’ll probably be happier for it!
Keep meat out of fast food
Fast food is not good for you and it’s expensive. The reality of our life is that we eat it usually twice a day pretty much everyday that we’re working. As the days get longer we’re heading into three times a day territory. I can’t think of too many fast food items that have quality meat that you look forward to eating in them can you? We all have to pick up food on the go sometimes and so it’s unrealistic to not plan to make better choices here too. Not only are you making a healthier choice ordering the vegetarian option (if present, MacDonalds!) Is often also cheaper. Go for egg or veggie subs, something from the grocery store or breakfast all day minus the meat on most weekdays and save the big mac for Fridays only. I swapped my egg and cheese farmers wrap for a bagel at Tim’s every morning for one go to vegan option per day pretty easily and it’s less than half the price!
Pick one meal a day
This could go either way pick one meal a day to make meat free or vegan or pick one to make not meat free or vegan. You’ll be cutting your consumption my a third or two thirds depending on which way you swing. If that’s too much of a hard and fast rule for you then just aim for it.
Find some veggie go to options
My diet is one thing Honey’s is another. He likes meat and that’s totally his choice! But I’m not willing to cook two totally separate suppers and he doesn’t seem all that willing to cook supper. So I have quite a few go to meals I make ALL THE TIME that make us both happy enough. Find a few super, easy, quick, cheap meals to make that you actually like to eat that are meat or dairy free and then make them all the time and keep the basic ingredients for those meals stocked up. If I do make him a pork chop I usually bust out the veggie dogs which is pretty easy. Side note to ‘real’ hotdogs even have meat in them?
Whether you want to be healthier, spend less, save the earth or you just like hopping on bandwagons it’s very possible to eat a more vegetarian or vegan diet. It can also be pretty pain free. Do you want to eat less meat or animal products in the future? What’s your motivation for doing so? Leave it in the comments!