There are a lot of reasons to eat less meat.
Think environmental health, personal health, and inhumane conditions of industrial farms - just a few of the hot topics. But the choice to be in-the-know is all yours, and I ain’t here to preach. If you’ve decided you want to try eating less meat and want some ideas to start, this Tips Tuesday post is for you, friend!
For a while, when I was trying to cut down on animal products, I simply ate less meat without giving much thought to my protein intake. But, as I found out, that approach can make you pretty hungry! And Steve was not a fan of my frequent hangry days. Courtney SMASH!
I started eating more food to feed the beast, but it was often in the form of popcorn or some kind of bread. I mean, carbs are delicious – so when I was hungrier, I thought I’d just grab whatever was tastiest. Because, why not? Ooh, look. Pieceacandy.
When I started prepping for my first bikini competition, though, I did some research. I learned a few things about carbs, fats, and proteins.
For instance, the fact that the body tends to burn carbs faster than other nutrients and also stores more body fat when you eat them. Also, that eating a diet higher in protein is more satiating and helps contribute to lean body mass. Oh – and that fat, regardless of the source, helps with satiety, too!
Well – there was a lot more than that to learn, but (for the sake of today’s post) what I ultimately concluded was that I needed to be eating more protein.
Unfortunately, with all the time I spent training at the gym, working, writing up new recipes, and just reading about what the heck I was supposed to do to get ready for a competition, I felt like I just needed easy, “straightforward” proteins like… chicken.
Now that I have a bit more time to ponder this protein predicament, I am interested in getting back into a more plant-based diet. Only, this time, including all the protein my body needs to deal with my intense heavy-lifting and cardio sessions (I’ve accepted it, I just can’t stay away from the weights now!)
1. Non-Vegan Vegetarian Options:
It’s always possible to go without meat and keep on eating animal products! If you are trying to avoid eating a lot of (or any) meat, easy and healthy sources of protein can come from eggs, unsweetened Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or milk. Even an ounce of cheese can provide a lot of protein – just be conscious of the additional calories from fat! 3 Best Egg Recipes + Watermelon-Kiwi Parfait
2. “Meaty” Alternatives:
One thing you’ll always find in my freezer is veggie burgers. They’re so perfect for a random quick lunch or dinner. Alas, they are not always vegan and can contain a lot of additives if you’re not careful, so it’s still a good idea to double check the label for any concerns you might have about them.
Still, I was happy to find some great-tasting ones, like MorningStar’s Chick’n Grillers (excellent for low-carb) and their Chipotle Black Bean Burgers. Of course, whenever I can, I make my own! Check out these awesome Black Bean Burgers + “Meaty” Sloppy Joes
3. Whole, Plant-Based Proteins:
You can’t go wrong with simple and straight up! Whole grains, beans, and lentils are full of protein. As long as you’re eating a variety of plant-based protein sources, it’s easy to get plenty of protein with your full spectrum of amino acids (news flash: they don’t need to be combined in the same meal to get the benefit!) Here’s a couple great recipes I can always go for… Mexican Quinoa Risotto + Thai Fusion Stir Fry
4. Protein Powder Power:
I can’t lie. I LOVE getting extra protein this way. First of all, it’s easy to add to almost anything – baked goods, smoothies, even plain water! Second, it’s delicious. You can make real-as-real tasting protein pancakes (S’mores Protein Pancakes + Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes), and so so many desserts (like this Low-Carb Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake). Protein powders come in vegetarian or vegan form, and so many flavors – it’s one way to satisfy a sweet tooth without getting into the sugary stuff! Just be sure to double check that label for ingredients. Aim for a high-protein, low-calorie, low-sugar option! A list of ones I've tried, here.
5. Meat In Moderation
Finally, whenever I do eat meat, I like to think of it as a supplement to my protein intake rather than a main source. For example, try this Chicken Pot Pie Stuffed Pepper! For me, I usually eat meat once a day at most, and soon probably less than that as I continue to stock my house with some of the above veggie alternatives! I think it’s also a good idea to make as earth and animal “friendly” choices as possible. Tree-hugging philosophical words? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean those are words for their own sake! There is a lot of good information out there about locally-organically-humanely raised meat (and animal products) that you can buy to help stymie some of the burden that they create on the environment.
Here are just a few links to check out, too:
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