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Want to Eat Less Meat? Here's How.

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Long ago, meat lost its starring role in my diet. Like many aspects of my life, my diet was profoundly influenced by the year I spent teaching English in South Korea.

There, meat could be found in almost every dish, but it wasn't a dominating ingredient. A sprinkling of pork flavored spicy kimchi stew, dried fish added depth to broths, and a lone clam sank to the bottom of the tofu soup I ate almost every day for lunch.
Koreans love meat. DIY BBQ places line the streets, and a favorite Friday night activity was eating pork at a streetside restaurant with my fellow teachers. We sat on small plastic stools, coughed from the smoke rolling off our combination table/grill, and drank pungent Korean soju to wash it all down. Even there, we rarely ate meat by itself. Though the samgyeopsal (pork belly) or moksal (pork chops) were the star ingredients, we carefully wrapped each bite in an entire Romaine lettuce leaf, along with roasted garlic and onion, grilled kimchi, ssamjang (a combo miso-pepper paste) and a bit of pickled radish.

Awhile back in the NYT Dining section, Mark Bittmann writes about "Putting Meat Back in its Place."
Bittman, a self-proclaimed meat lover, is, like many of us, cutting back on the amount of meat he eats. He's not giving it up cold turkey, but he's trying to make less of the focus of the meal.

In most foreign cuisines, "meat is seen as a treasure, not as something to be gobbled up as if it were air," he writes.

Like any gastronomical "vice," be it chocolate, red wine, or ice cream, there is room for meat in a healthy lifestyle. It's all a question of moderation. Bittman offers great pointers for people who are trying to wean themselves off the 16-ounce ribeyes found on most restaurant menus.

I've already cut meat from my diet, but my boyfriend found the tips quite helpful and informative. He's a flexitarian, meaning he eats vegetarian meals several times a week (any time he eats at home).

Are you eating less meat these days? What are some ways that you make a little meat go a long way?
*Photo from 2005, of me and my friends Jen and Shan eating BBQ in Seoul, South Korea

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YMWONG22 10/29/2019
Good article. Report
DGRIFFITH51 7/4/2019
I am learning to cook more vegan foods. Today I made Vegan ground beef, I made 20 meatballs, 4 burger patties and a pound to use for tacos. It is made with ground lentils and flax, mushrooms, beets, onions, brewers yeast and seasonings. We try to eat 2 meatless meals per week. Report
The only meat I eat is chicken Report
thank you Report
I stopped eating meat about 17 years ago after making a contribution to PETA and receiving their newsletters. Now I find it disgusting that the rotting flesh of dead animals is still being consumed by the majority here in the USA.... Report
I don't eat as much meat as I used to but I do eat fish, chicken and turkey more. Report
I grew up on a large family beef farm in Wisconsin in the 60's, so we literally had red meat every meal!!! I am blood type A, so was challenged a few years ago to eat vegan. Recently, 9 weeks ago, started SparkPeople, and went totally vegan. it is so easy to eat balanced and get the right nutrition with out meat or meat products. just takes planning. I feel great and am losing weight that i have carried around for along time. I feel so thin on the inside...can anyone relate...not stuffed up with heavy meals. I am encouraged by so many even trying vegetarianism or flexitarianism!!! the big plus, is our grocery bill seems to be cut in half!!!! meat and dairy are two of the highest priced things in the grocery store! Report
I've been vegetarian 11 years, vegan 6 so not eating meat is just like breathing, now. I don't miss it and can't imagine ever wanting to eat it again. Ditto dairy and eggs. It's funny how just cutting something out, while it seems unthinkable at first, can end up being such a simple thing once you've adjusted.

Omnivorous friends and family seem to think it must be a constant struggle to not eat a burger or some non-vegan cake... but it's not. It's just not food to me. I am not tempted to eat wallpaper paste or rocks because I see them as non-edible. This is how it is with non-vegan food, especially when the animal bits are super visible.

On the rare occasion I'm hit with "I wish I could eat xyz" I always find myself wishing the food were vegan, not that I wasn't. :) Report
Thanks to all the contributors to this thread for your inspiration.
We have been using meat as a seasoning since the 70's when we read Diet for a Small Planet and More with Less Cookbook.
I also love TVP, a meat substitute which i use for sloppy joes. Report
I love meats, but am cutting down on the serving size i eat. Both my husband i are meat lovers, vegetables is something i have learned to love in the past few years. I'm still not crazy about beans, but i am trying to find recipes that i like. I also love almost any kind of fish, but my husband hates it, i have come up with a few fish recipes that he likes. I often cook two different meals . Report
After being a voracious meat eater for my early life, I became a flexitarian 39 years ago.I began gradually to eliminate meat from more and more of my meals. Yet still enjoying
meat of all types when I wanted it. About thirty years ago I decide to eliminate pork from my diet completely as it was
the meat I liked the least. Twenty years ago, I found that
I could no longer digest beef as I ate it so infrequently, so it went too. Three years later I said good bye to poultry. Now I eat seafood and fish twice a week and the rest of time my meals are vegetarian or even vegan.

For those worried about protein, I get plenty. Feel great. Feel lighter. I have plenty of energy. Love my diet. Now meat eating seems very strange to me. Also I know by choosing to eat this way, I am reducing my carbon footprint and not participating in so much cruelty to animals.
But I have found that the key to this change is do
it gradually and be patient with yourself. Report
I've never really liked meat growing up. I think I've tried steak once or twice, never had ribs, all those types of meat (tips/ribs/sirloin/etc.) has never made it's way into my likes category. I like lunch meat turkey, but that's basically it. Chicken is ok, but it's not a favorite, especially if it's plain. I have to have it with something else, like in a stir-fry or on a bun. And I've only ever really enjoyed hamburgers from Sonic, which was hard growing up because we grew our own beef and had real hamburgers ALL the time. Report
Can't eat meat, makes me think of my dog and cat! And eating raw seafood just makes me cringe, sorry Stepf! Report
I grew up in a house where dinner always included meat. But that wasn't the only meal, it was usually eaten in smaller portions for lunch as tuna or deli meat. Now, in my own house, my husband and I eat meat only on weekends and always a small quantity. It took a while to get used to, but now it's no problem. We eat lots of lentils, beans, milk and eggs. Report
i'm in korea teaching english now! i love all the great vegetable sides. but you're right - meat is in everything! i've let the strictness of my vegetarianism slide a whoooole lot here - now, just picking out the odd meat chunk in my soup etc. Report
I usually dont think i eat that much meat. if i go out i do usually breakfast is two parts first part is a granola /cereal bar from kashi about 15 minutes before i go to the gym for about an hour to an hour and half. then after i come home i shower and fix a low cal breakfast. usually eggs or a smoothie. Lunch can be a wide variety of things. usually some type but something that is fiber rich because i need to stay full while i go to work i dont get out until after 430 and make it home by 5 and sometimes i stay later. dinner is a low cal dinner. i always have at least two snacks ranging 100-150 calories. I always pair a fruit with breakfast lunch and dinner. That is usually my plan. Report
I do eat protien several times a day but count yogurt, eggs, peanut butter and beans (on fridays or weekends, lol). My favorite way to prepare meals is what I call "module meals". I cook something ahead of time such as chicken, roasted veggies or rice and package it in serving size baggies. The meat I split up into 2 oz servings. I know and have been reminded that 3 oz is seen as a serving but like I said, it is usually not my only source of protien for the day. When it is time for a meal I grab a combination that seems pleasing. The other day I had chicken, uncle bens whole wheat ready rice (1/4 cup, the pouch lasts 8 meals...), pre-roasted veggies and frozen green beans. Nuked together and added soy sauce and seasonings. This allows me the flexability to add salsa or brown gravy mix instead to change up flavors. The variations are limitless, so easy and I don't get bored. It also allows me to vary calories (If I'm really hungry I can add more rice or vegetables...) I eat 5-6 times a day, but some snacks are just a yogurt or boiled egg... I have found that I eat less actual meat but still eat quite a bit of protien. It seems to keep me from craving sweets and carbs. Report
I like meat and I don't see myself quitting meat in the near or distant future. I have, however, due to finances and need to lose weight , have scaled down my portions. Since my portions are down, I can afford to buy a pack or two of organic chicken which I stretch out over the week. I've also started buying packs of frozen chicken breast and tilapia and salmon. Report
I'm slowly working on going meatless-not vegetarian-just mostly meatless. I am at a point where I can do 3 or 4 meatless meals per week and starting in February I'm going to try to have one meat day per week. For Lenten I want to be meatless. If Coretta Scott King can become vegetarian at 60 I can do it at 4*... my age. Report
I was brought up a vegetarian with all kinds of legumes eaten with rice or flat bread (roti) with lots of veggie sides. Never missed any meat! Recently, I had to become a non-vegetarian where I include sea-food, chicken and turkey in my diet. However, its never the main entree - its always one of the side dishes with 2-3 ozs. only. What's all this hype about 60grams of protein in one's diet - today? Most of my protein is vegetarian in spite of my eating meats and sea food which can help our ecology to stay greener and is healthier too! Here's the link to the article by Mark Bittman.

I like to add chopped vegetables as filler into most meat dishes I eat and a vegetable side like salad or frozen green beans. Report
I have the opposite problem....I do not like to eat red meat, and need ways to get more protein without getting bored. Report
I love meat, especially BBQ steak, but now instead of eating a whole NY strip at once I get my dinner and lunch for the next day. Report
I used to be a meat and potatoes girl who ate very few veggies and only the occasional piece of fruit. I have changed my diet dramatically, but still love my meat. I eat smaller portions of meat now because there are veggies on my plate too, but can't see myself ever losing the taste for meat. Report
I enjoy meat (turkey, beef, pork, and fish) and I dont see myself or my husband deviating from that just because it's the 'cool' thing to do right now. We dont indulge in 16oz rib-eyes, but a good schnitzel or currywurst doesnt come any smaller in Germany than what is served. 'Fitness' isnt part of their vocab just yet. Moderation should be considered for all things, not just meat. What good it is to eat 3-tomatoes v. just 1 and then 2-other veggies? I cant live my life wondering what's going to kill me next... if I eat the 16oz steak, then I should investigate how to work it off and what I can afford to give up for the rest of the day. Report
I am a vegan, so I don't eat meat, eggs, dairy or animal by-products. I got into this lifestyle again recently but was vegan back in high school and the first two years of college. Report
I was a "vegetarian" in my teens, but I didn't do it the right way. I would love to do it now, but a) it seems so expensive to eat meatless, and b) I am allergic to eggs, so that is a big source of protein I can't take advantage of. It would be easy to do in my house, since my 8 year old proclaims she wants to "be a vetra - I mean vegetarian". Hehe. We incorporate meatless meals, but they are generally lacking protein of any kind, so it's not a healthy replacement to meat. Report
My husbad is a big meat lover (and vegetable hater), so this is what I do: I make a lot of stir frys, curries, and sautees with chicken and a lot veggies (sometimes beef or pork, but at least 90% chicken). Everything gets cooked together, so the veggies get a little of the meat flavoring, and I can work with the fond. But when it's time to plate the meal, I give my husband most of the meat, and I take mostly veggies with a few pieces of meat. As a side note, he's been trying the veggies more, but he just can't seem to learn to like them. Too bad, because this sort of cooking has turning me from someone who is all about the meat to someone who can take or leave the meat so long as the veggies are well cooked. FWIW, I find mushrooma to be an excellent substitute for chicken. Report
I weigh all meat now, and only cook enough for 3 -4 oz per person - and I eat a lot more fish. When I use ground meat I add a lot of oatmeal to it, it takes on the meat flavor and no one guesses it's in there - great for meatballs etc. Report
Three weeks ago I stopped eating pork, fowl and beef. For me it has been easy. I bought a vegetarian cookbook and have had some very good meals. I use tofu, beans and a couple times a week I will eat seafood. I don't really feel better (or worse). I did it because I no longer wanted to be a part of the way farm animals are treated.
My husband is supportive. He eats meat but at one time in his life was also a vegetarian. Nobody in my family or his seem to care.
I'd like to eat less meat. Not cut it out completely, just eat a bit less of it. I don't like much seafood, so a lot of that is out, and my hubby can't stomach the soy meat-substitute products, so those are out. I'd be happy with 2-3 meatless meals a week. Report
I've been a vegetarian for years, but I thought this article was cogent and colorful. Good stuff. Report
I don't care much for meat-unless it's ultra processed and doesn't taste like meat. Occasionally I'll eat chicken but never by itself-ewww!!

As far as Iron is concerned you get a lot more from a serving of beans and rice than a burger. Iron comes in lots of foods, spinach, soy, whole grains, legumes etc. Tuna and Turkey are higher in iron content for the calories than red meat. Report
I have heard that the older you get the less protein you need. But I would not know where to begin. I fear low Iron etc. Report
I was just thinking about this!! :) It used to be I ate red meat ALOT, 3-4 nights a week (and lunches too). Now I eat red meat maybe once a week. I eats tons of fish now with alittle chicken and pork mixed in. Report
I have found myself cutting down on the beef,but still including some pork and chicken to my meals. At times I find myself not being able to eat any meat, but then I worry about not getting enough protein. On those days, I might eat salad with beans or have fish . I often eat eggs. This gives me energy to get out and do my walking. I find myself, at this stage in my life, that I don't have to eat meat as a number one staple. I do try to fill up on my veggies and fruits. Jan Report
We've cut way back on the amount of meat we eat at each meal and we eat a huge amount of vegetables. I only use fresh from our garden during the summer and relatively fresh from the store the rest of the year. I'd like to find some recipes that are meatless--not sure I can convince my DH to go that way but he's fairly openminded. Would going meatless help with blood pressure concerns? Report
I too would consider myself a flexitarian. It is not what I want to be, I have never really liked meat, it is just always there. I eat some chicken and some ground meat, usualy never anything else. I eat raw 5 days a week, when I am at work, then when I get home, my husband (the hunter) and our kids (complete meat lovers) seem to always help me loose my way, and I eat what available or has been made. My Father has a problem with me not eating meat, and my Mother-In-Law, whom we eat with several times a week, is offended if I don't eat what she cooks and my Husband is offend if I don't want to have dinner with his parents. (Not to mention my Mother-In-Law is queen of serving overcooked canned veggies... yuck!) So I am finding that the peer preasure to eat meat, that I don't really care for or want, usually wins. How do you muster up the courage to say "no" and stick to it? How do you not offend others along the way? Report
I LOVE being a Flexitarian! If I crave a burger, I have one (homemade, not fast food). But most often you will find me eating my fruits, veggies, tofu, Silk soymilk, and yummy homebaked breads and muffins. There are SOOOO many flex recipes out there now...just look! Report
I eat a lot less meat than I use to. More beans, tofu Report
I am trying to eat less meat, but not just for health reasons...it's an easy way to cut food costs, too! Report
I guess you can call me a flexitarian. I am finding that I feel better when I have reduced meat protein or used a protein replacement. Currently I am on a 3 to 4 day a week vegetarian program. As for my husband who says vegetables will kill you, He is on a 2 day a week (3 if I get a chance) vegetarian program and does not even know it. I have seen a big change in his attitude and ability to do things.

Joan Report
My mom used to can all summer and at least once a week she would find herself with more produce ripe and ready to use than she could possibly put up in the next 24 hours even with the troops... uh, children helping. So she would put a vegetable dinner on the table. The freshest and best of whatever was ready and plenty of it. And believe it or not we kids looked forward to these meals! In the winter time she believed that you needed some meat to help you stay warm and one of her staples was a HUGE pot of soup. We are talking about a 10-12 qt stock pot full. It would be dinner 1 or 2 nights and lunch for several days. In that huge pot there was a total of 1 1/2 to 2 # of hamburger, browned and drained. There was also mom's homemade spaghetti sauce sometimes there was meat in it, sometimes not. We never missed it, but we sure miss the sauce now that she is gone. Report
This was a great article for me as I find it very difficult to get the right amount of protein and can feel quite tired at times so, being able to combine different things with meat to lessen the calories but keep the meal looking like it is a meal is fantastic. Report
I too have been trying to cut back on meat. One thing I've been doing is to cut the meat by half in recipes that call for ground beef or turkey and substitute beans for the other half. You still get some meat but cut the fat in half, and you get the added bonus of fiber from the beans. Report
I would love to cut back on meat but my hubby just won't hear of it. I have cut down the amount of meat we eat but he has a fit if there is no meat in the meal at all. It is really frustrating when you know it is for the best but your loved one has his heels dug in so firmly! Report
Like many others I grew up with meat as the main event of most meals and I married a "meat" and potatoes (although this can be anything as long as the "meat" is there) man. Recently after reading several articles and books about Vegetarianism I've decided to at the very least to cut red meat out completely from my diet, have no meat for my lunch meals, and limit chicken to only 2 nightly meals a week. I have found that by replacing meat with beans/legumes I feel just as satisfied and save a load of calories and fat. Also I feel I have more energy. Kudos to your blog for shedding light to how most cultures enjoy meat - hopefully this will lead to if anything reduced portions. Report
Thanks for this- I love eating small amounts of meat and fish in stir fries or salads with lots of fresh veggies and I am also looking for ways to get adequate protein in my diet. Tofu is on my "to do" list and I have just added a daily dose of roasted almonds which helps to get the protein amount up. Please keep your ideas coming...MJ Report
I grew up savoring not only the meat, but the bits of fat on the outside of a roast, and bacon grease used to flavor fried foods, and all of the other arcane things we used to do with meat before we knew that "more protein" was not the only story to more and more meat!
I am gradually learning to consider a serving to be the size of a deck of cards, and that I don't need seconds, and that I don't even need meat every day of the week.
Thank goodness for articles like yours, because I need a lot of reinforcement on this one! My intuitions are still all upside down! Report
I grew up with meat 7 days a week and thought I was eating healthy. I am finding that the less i eat now the better I feel. I am always looking for ways to get enough protein in my diet now that I am not eating as much meat.. I hadn't thought of just scaling back on the portion amount and using it as a small additive instead of the main course. I would like to see more on this.
Thanks so much.. debbie Report
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