I just heard the term “meatless revolution” coined on an evening news program. Being a dietitian who is both professionally and personally a big fan of good nutrient dense carbohydrates-white potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, fruits, and vegetables- I am ecstatic to hear this is becoming a mainstream trend. Apparently, US meat consumption has declined 30%, so my hope is this trend continues as it is good for our health and good for the planet. Dietitians have been promoting this concept for decades. The USDA plate reinforces this eating “revolution” as well. So why should we cut down on meat consumption? For dietitians, the answers are obvious: this decreases total fat, saturated fat, and allows for calories to come from other food sources such has complex carbs which provide specific nutrients to the diet that would be lacking in a heavy meat diet. Eating less meat is also a good way to decrease inflammation and cancer risk in some people. Eating and growing more plant-based foods also consumes less energy and pollutes the environment less. For every pound of bread made, one pound of grain is needed. But for every pound of beef weight, eight pounds of grain are needed. And, let’s not forget that cows pollute with poop. It has to go somewhere, and often ends up contaminating our water and soil.
To embrace this so-called meatless revolution, start with:
- Having a meatless meal a few times per week. Try a lentil soup with whole grain bread or a vegetable topping pizza every Friday.
- Making a conscious decision to decrease your animal protein servings to the size of a deck of cards; this is the portion size you should be eating, but many are eating 2-3 times that amount.
- Substituting plant-based protein for meat options. Try peanut butter in place of cold cuts on whole wheat bread for a hearty sandwich or lentils and beans in soups and stews to replace some of the meat the recipe calls for.
How do you downsize your meat?