One of the few things most meat eaters have in common is how they react to the suggestion of eating less meat. Rather than an interesting and perhaps enjoyable endeavour for their benefit and that of the planet, they interpret the whole thing as a punishment.
Immediately, the idea is pushed to one side as something unpleasant and avoidable – at least for the time being.
Nevertheless, research suggests that more people than ever before are making the conscientious decision to cut down their consumption of meat. Some are motivated by the environmental impact of meat production; others are more interested in improving their health and wellbeing.
Either way, there’s a growing trend among meat eaters to eat at least a little less.
Reducing Meat Consumption Without the Drama
Good intentions are one thing, but actually going through on them is something else entirely. This is where things start to get tricky for some, as attempting to change habits that have always been part of your lifestyle isn’t easy.
Where most of those attempting to cut down on meat get things wrong is by viewing the whole thing as a punishment. Seeing it is a challenge is fine, but negative connotations will make it impossible to stick with.
With a positive and proactive attitude, it can actually be quite easy to eat less meat without even trying. We’re not necessarily talking about going fully plant-based, but nonetheless making a major reduction to the amount of meat you consume.
Here are seven tips from the pros on how to increase your consumption of plant-based foods without making any major efforts whatsoever:
1. Extend Your Meat-Free Mondays
If you have already got on board with the meat-free Mondays trend, you’ve clearly demonstrated that you can survive without meat. In which case, why not extend it into a second day of the week?
Wednesday and Thursday are ideal days to go alongside Monday, enabling you to space out your vegetarian meals and enjoy meat in-between. Or if you’re already cooking vegetarian meals on Monday, why not simply make more and eat the leftovers on Tuesday?
This one extra day means you’re effectively doubling your efforts to eat less meat, without making any real difference to your lifestyle.
2. Eat Vegetarian During the Day
Without even realising it, quite a lot of people eat meat with every meal. Perhaps supplementing their three main meals with meat-based snacks throughout the day. If this applies to you (even in part), you could make a major difference to your diet and your health by kicking meat at breakfast and lunch.
If you reserve animal-based products exclusively for the evening, you’re effectively reducing your consumption by two thirds. Combined with a meat-free Monday, it’s a great way of going partially plant-based without going fully vegetarian.
3. Save Meat for the Weekend
This is an approach many nutritionists swear by, which embraces the best of all worlds. Monday to Friday (or Sunday to Thursday if preferred), you eliminate the consumption of meat to the best of your ability. Your body thanks you and you do your bit for the environment, after which you get the green light to eat whatever you want (within reason) at the weekend.
This opens the door to restaurant meals, your favourite takeaway dishes and anything you care to whip up in the kitchen. Rather than approaching plant-based as a punishment, this reverses the whole thing to make meat more of a treat.
4. Try the Latest Meat Replacement Products
If you have not yet had the pleasure of trying an ‘Impossible’ burger or some kind of equivalent, you’ve no idea what you’re missing. These really are the closest approximations to meat the world has ever known, which is some instances are practically indistinguishable from the real thing.
Even where you can tell the difference between real meat and advanced imitations, they’re incredibly delicious and just as satisfying as meat. Reducing meat consumption does not mean having to cut back on your favourite dishes and recipes. It simply means you have to get a little more creative with them.
5. Eat Smaller Portions of Meat
This may sound like a no-brainer, but is nonetheless a method comparatively few people experiment with at home. Rather than cutting out meat entirely, why not simply make a conscious effort to reduce the amount you use?
If making spaghetti sauce or a chilli con carne, use 50% less minced meat and add extra veg or lentils. Cut the size of your usual steak down by whatever measure you can cope with and pile your plate with your favourite vegetables.
6. Batch Cook Vegetarian Meals for Convenience
One of the easiest ways to help yourself to eat less meat is to batch cook and freeze a whole bunch of delicious vegetarian meals. This way, you’ll have a stockpile to dive into when you have neither the time nor the inclination to cook meals from scratch.
Cravings for convenience food can often take precedence over good intentions – particularly when time is a factor and energy levels are low. The more quick and easy vegetarian meals you have at your disposal, the better.
7. Set Goals and Reward Positive Progress
Last up, perhaps the biggest mistake you can make when attempting lifestyle changes like these is to simply make things up as you go along.
You wake up one morning, you decide to start eating less meat and you make completely random attempts to do so. And you fail, as this is a strategy that almost never works.
Instead, you need to set meaningful and realistic goals you can wor