If you have chosen to eat less meat, then you may be wondering how to round out your diet so that you’re getting the nutrients you need. Whether you’re lowering your meat consumption for health reasons or to reduce your negative impact on the environment, trying to figure out what to pile your plate with instead of that steak or chicken fillet can be difficult. For those committed to reducing their meat intake, finding the right balance is key. To eat healthily with less meat, it’s important to include a range of fresh food options and plant protein to ensure you’re getting the essential minerals & vitamins your body needs.
The benefits of eating less meat
More people are cutting down on red meat and having meat-free days. While some of these individuals may be wanting to reduce their meat intake for health reasons, a big reason behind the popularity of plant-based diets is that it’s better for the environment. Scientists have recently been imploring members of the public to eat less meat as a way to reduce one’s environmental impact. Researchers have stated that if someone cuts meat products from their diet, they can reduce their carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. This is ever so important as we face the prospect of climate change and the negative effects that methane and greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment. Other benefits of eating less meat include:
- Reduces your cancer risk
Studies have linked a diet high in red and processed meats with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Research suggests that people who eat a plant-based diet have a 22% less risk of developing cancer.
- Helps with weight loss goals
Carrying excess weight increases our risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular issues. The benefit of a plant-based diet is that plant foods tend to be less energy-dense, meaning we can eat more and feel fuller.
- Helps lower cholesterol
Plant foods are typically low in saturated fat, with some plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocados are high in unsaturated fats; helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Saves you money
It is possible to get your weeks’ worth of plant-based meals for the fraction of the cost of a steak.
Farming and the production of food accounts for 19% of the U.K’s greenhouse gas emissions. The production of 10g of beef protein releases the same quantity of greenhouse gases as 162g of wheat protein.
How to eat healthily with less meat
Eating healthy and getting the vitamins & minerals you need with less meat is possible. But if you’re just starting out with reducing your meat intake you may be wondering how to compensate for the lack of protein. While cutting out meat means cutting out a major source of protein in your diet, becoming familiar with alternative protein-filled foods will ensure that you’re meeting your recommended daily nutrient intake for protein. It’s important to understand that eating protein doesn’t have to mean eating meat, especially when there are plenty of protein-packed, heart-healthy plant-based foods available to include in your diet. So start replacing your meat products with the following plant-based foods that are best for protein:
Seeds and nuts
Nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts are packed with protein and fibre. Although they are higher in fat, most of this is heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Stick to a handful of nuts (around 30g) per day as a nutritious snack. Like nuts, seeds contain healthy unsaturated fats and are packed with protein. Opt for sunflower, chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds and add them to soups or smoothies, on top of salads, in curries, or mixed with vegetables.
Beans and lentils
Beans pack a punch when it comes to protein. Kidney, white, black, and pinto beans are all accessible and easy to incorporate into mealtime. Eat on their own, as a side, or puree them and use as a dip. Similarly, lentils are high in protein (about 26g per 100g serving) and are also a good source of iron. Include lentils in sauces, stews, and soups.
The smooth texture and neutral flavour of tofu make it easy to incorporate into meals, with the bonus of it being a great source of protein. Stir-fry, bake, or boil tofu and add it to your favourite noodle dish or salad, or even processed with your daily smoothie.
Quorn is a complete protein made from natural fungi. The texture and taste of Quorn are very similar to meat, making it a great option for those reducing their meat intake and wanting the flavours of meat without the negative impact on their health or environment. Quorn is also naturally low in saturated fat and contains more fibre than baked beans. With a range of Quorn products including mincemeat and fillets, it can easily be swapped with meat for a nutritious meal choice.
The best meat-free meal option
Quorn is a meat substitute and is a great option for anyone reducing their meat intake. Completely plant-based, Quorn products provide all the protein and nutrients you need for your overall health & wellbeing. If you’re eating less meat or have eliminated meat products from your diet completely, take a look at our range of products and include them with your plant-based meals.