If getting healthier is something you're into, you have endless methods at your disposal. Fad diets are huge, cleanses and detoxes are super trendy, but how about giving a meat-tox a spin? We know it might sound crazy (we love burgers too), but it may be a lot easier than you think, and it doesn't necessarily mean going entirely meat free. Here are our tips for how and why reducing your meat intake in might be for you:
WHY YOU SHOULD:
REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
The meat production industry is surprisingly responsible for a large amount of fossil fuel usage, and this leads to the dreaded greenhouse gas emissions that are causing so many climate change issues globally. It’s estimated that about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by meat production. Yikes. If we all cut back a bit, it could really make a difference in our fight against climate change.
REDUCE WATER USE
We may not even think about it, but feeding all of these animals (that we are then using to feed ourselves), takes a lot of resources – land and water especially. Add up the water needed to grow food for, provide drinking water for, process, clean and package an animal (and eventual meat product) and the consumption numbers get ridiculous.
As fresh water continues to be a precious resource, we have to start considering whether all of this meat production is worth the consumption of these natural resources, and how we’re gonna sustain the industry going forward.
REAP THE HEALTH BENEFITS
We’re not saying that cutting meat out completely is the healthiest or best option for you individually, but even going meat-free one day a week has shown positive health affects in studies. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity have all been linked to meat consumption, so cutting back even a bit could reduce your risk of developing these health problems.
IMPROVE YOUR COOKING GAME
So many of us get stuck in a food routine, and we lose that passion that makes prepping a meal a fun experience. Modifying your meat consumption opens you up to a whole new world of recipes and creative meal ideas that’ll get you excited to cook again. You’ll probably become a better cook because of it.
HOW TO DO IT:
ADD MO’ FLAVOUR
Cutting meat out doesn’t mean you’re cursed with bland meals for eternity. Seasoning isn’t just meant for meat, and although you may not be using BBQ sauce on the daily, spices can definitely rock your foodie world too. Use herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, chili flakes, nutritional yeast, dulse and good ol’ salt and pepper more generously, and continue to live comfortably in Flavourtown.
CHECK YOUR “OTHER” PORTIONS
Just because you’re cutting down/ out your meat doesn’t mean you should carb-load to feel full. Things like roasted veggies and healthy grains will get the job done, so put the baguette down.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ALL OR NOTHING
Protein is important, so don’t feel the need to necessarily cut meat out completely. Having meat free days or even just meat free meals is a great way to cut back, and even being more conscious of your meat portion sizing is important (the size of your palm is a recommended meat portion). Mixing your meat with other substitutes in equal portions also cuts your consumption in half without a huge sacrifice. Who knows, your baby steps could eventually lead to the realization that you wouldn’t really miss the meat if you were to cut it out completely.
MORE WHITE, LESS RED
Red meat definitely has its health benefits, but it is also fattier and increases your risk of the health issues we mentioned above. Sticking to predominantly white meats such as fish, chicken ( eggs too) and turkey is a good way to reduce those health risks. Avoiding grilled and cured meats is ideal for your health as well, as those are also shown to have higher carcinogenic properties.
INTERNATIONAL RECIPES FTW
If you want a sweet example of how to eat less meat the right way, look no further than Indian cuisine. A large majority of their signature dishes are meat free, and they kick some serious ass as far as flavourful and satisfying meals go. Indian curries and stews rely mostly on hearty veggies like carrots, peas and okra on beautiful beds of rice. Their thick sauces made from coconut milk are super filling and delicious, and yogurt makes a mean marinade.
FIND THE FILLING VEGGIES
Don’t get it confused, there are definitely veggies that can be super filling as well if you eat enough of them. Beets, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are all great choices and don’t always get the love they deserve. Roast ‘em in some olive oil, garlic and herbs to bring out their flavour.
If you’re looking for other protein sources, you don’t have to look very hard anymore. Quinoa, soy and legumes are packed with protein, and combining certain foods will give you what you’re missing nutritionally. Rice and beans, chickpeas and sweet potatoes – there are so many awesome combos that’ll tick all of your boxes for a complete protein without the meat.
For a sneaky trick, in recipes that call for ground meat, try swapping half of the meat for sautéed mushrooms. They’re hearty, high in Vitamin D and you won’t lose the flavour of the meat dish. Mushrooms are generally pretty cheap, so it’ll save you some money, too. Nuts, polenta, cheeses, and the almightly cauliflower are other great ways to substitute or supplement meat in a meal.
See? It’s not as hard as you thought it would be, especially compared to the other health crazes out there… Put the kale juice down, and maybe give the meat-tox a spin.