Whether you want to start eating less meat to help farmed animals, to fight climate change and protect the planet, or to reap the health benefits, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together ten ideas to help get your meat reduction journey off to a great start.
Before you start your meat reduction journey, work out what kind of change would be easiest for you and your lifestyle in terms of how and where to start cutting meat out of your diet. You could start with going meat-free for one or two days a week or maybe opting to only eat veggie based lunches might work better for you. Start small if that’s what you need to do and build from there as your confidence grows.
You might find it helpful to plan ahead for the week, at least until you feel more comfortable with meat-free meal creation. However, not everyone is a planner! If you’re not the type to rustle up a weekly menu on a spreadsheet, it’s still a good idea to spend a little bit of time working out a few quick on-the-go meat-free options for when you don’t have much time. There are so many varied and tasty veggie recipes available online, there’s no shortage of inspiration.
Get the facts
Take the opportunity to learn more about why eating less meat is such a beneficial step to make: if your main motivation is personal wellbeing, read up on the health benefits of eating less meat; if you are interested in the natural world, why not watch some of the fantastic documentaries on the environmental impacts of meat-eating; or if you are an animal lover, take the time to learn more about farm animals and how amazing cows, pigs and chickens all are! Information is power and can help keep you motivated.
Eating less meat provides a great chance to experiment with new ingredients you wouldn’t usually cook with or try new cuisines you might not have tried before. Everyone can get in a bit of rut sometimes, eating the same meals week after week. By making the change to reduce your meat consumption, you are also opening yourself up to a whole new world of tasty, meat-free foods!
Recreate your favourite meals
You don’t have to give up your favourite dishes if you reduce your meat in-take or stop eating meat altogether, most (if not all!) can be recreated either through using ingredients with similar textures (think kidney beans in a chilli) or through meat substitutes (quorn mince in your shepherd’s pie). Once you know that your favourites are still an option, it’ll make the transition seem much easier.
Explore your supermarket
Most of the major supermarkets now have their own ranges of plant-based foods with many stores having dedicated aisles. Spend some time in the meat-free/veggie/vegan sections and see what they have on offer. This said – and while it seems obvious! – it’s important to remember that everything you already eat that isn’t meat is meat-free! So you don’t need to buy ‘special’ things if you don’t want to as you still have all fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, seeds, nuts, pasta, rice, breads with which to create amazing meat-free meals.
Eating out or ordering in
If you like to eat out - or in current circumstances, order-in - then check out your favourite restaurants and eateries to see what veggie/vegan options they offer. Eating meat-free while out and about has never been easier as most restaurants and chains are now able to cater for a diverse set of dietary preferences.
Whether for practical reasons or moral support, reducing your meat intake can be easier if you share your meat-reduction journey with another person. You can share the benefits as well as yummy recipes or lunch ideas.
There are many positive reasons to start eating less meat and one of those is living a more compassionate life, conscious of the impact our choices can have on the environment and the lives of animals. Be kind to yourself too if you find reducing your meat consumption hard or don’t always meet your goals and just try again the next day.
Celebrate your capacity for change
It’s not always easy to make changes to our behaviour, especially when there’s so much else going on, so it’s important to take the time to recognise your ability to do it! Take pride in the fact that whenever you opt for a meat-free option you are doing something positive for yourself, for the planet and for animals.