Why I Am Going Meat-less

eat less meat

Meat-less = Less meat, not necessarily no meat.

I have been trying, for a long time, to incorporate more vegetarian meals and less meat in general into my family’s diet.  Why?  Honestly, the first reason – I’m sick of meat!  How many different ways can you cook a chicken?!  I would love to find some alternatives to the standard american dinner -some sort of meat, starch and a veggie.  There are so many cultures around the world that have really tasty vegetable main dishes – Indian, Armenian, Greek, Italian…

Eating less meat – and I mean all kinds of meat, poultry, fish, pork and red meat  – is consider green.  Why is eating less meat green?

Environmental Reasons

  1. Raising cows contributes to the thinning ozone layer.  Cattle release a significant amount of methane.  Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.  Livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  This represents more than transportation emissions.
  2. Animals require large amounts of water.  It is estimated that 2 to 5 times the amount of water is needed to raise a cow than to raise the equivalent amount of food in plant form.
  3. Anywhere from 50 – 70% of antibiotics used in the US is used on animals.  Antibiotics are routinely given to the animals to keep them healthy while they are raised for our consumption.  This is a possible cause for the rise of antibiotic resistant germs.
  4. Huge amounts of food are grown for the animals to eat so we can eat them.  Seems so inefficient!  Just use the land to grow plants for us to eat and eliminate the “middle-man”.

As I learned more, there are so many other important reasons to limit meat.

Personal Reasons

  1. Alternative proteins are really good for you.  Beans are a great low-fat source of fiber, which can lower cholesterol, combat heart disease, stabilize blood sugar, and protect against some cancers.  
  2. Reduce the risk of some cancers. The Cancer Project discusses how eating meat can affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.  Others say meat can increase chances of developing other cancers such as colon and prostate. 
  3. Reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes  After watching the film Forks Over Knives, I was even more convinced that we should be eating more veggies and less meat.  
  4. Meatless meals are less expensive.  It is a lot cheaper to buy beans, whether you cook them yourself or buy in cans.

How To Actually Do It 

I have tried vegetarian meals.  The kids are not too fond of them.  My husband, bless his heart, will eat anything I put in front of him.  He is just glad he didn’t have to cook!  Most of the time I enjoy the meal, but end up feeling hungry later.

So instead of cutting out meat entirely for one or 2 meals per week, I reduce the amount at most meals.  Here are few examples:

If I make lasagna, I really like the flavor ground beef adds to it.  I only use about a 1/2 pound for the entire lasagna.  Just enough to get the flavor, but no where near the almost 2 pounds of meat a lot of recipes call for.  

When I make taco filling, I start with ground beef or turkey and add beans (black beans, black-eyed peas or even re-fried beans), onions, corn and any other veggies I have chopped very small.  It about doubles the filling so we are probably only eating half the meat.  Plus it tastes great!

At the same time I am exploring alternatives.  So far falafel, eggplant, and pizza with veggies has worked.

I think it’s important to remember that our bodies don’t need as much protein as we may think and that meat is not the only source of protein.

I posed this question on the Facebook page about a month ago: 

To all my vegetarian or vegan friends out there: How can I add some protein to a stir fry without using meat? Not crazy about tofu either. Ideas????”

I received the greatest suggestions!  Nuts, beans, eggs, tempeh, quinoa, lentils, nut butters, edamame.   Someone also posted this great chart with an explanation on how much protein we actually need and how much is in all other sorts of foods.  


What are you favorite recipes that include little or no meat?

3 Responses to Why I Am Going Meat-less

  1. Small Footprints December 28, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    I think it’s great that you are reducing the amount of animal protein in your diet. When we first became vegan, I tried to stick to the protein-starch-veggie scenario. Quite frankly, that became just as boring to me as planning a meal around meat. Then, I started thinking outside the box and planned meals around other menu items. For example, I’d let a baked potato become the center of the meal and cook “sides” that went well with it. Maybe I’d focus on eggplant or pasta or cauliflower … and build out from there. When I stopped seeing a protein as the center of the meal, our meals got more creative and delicious. Everyone worries about protein but we actually get much more of it than we realize. These days I focus more on getting a good variety of foods and the rest seems to take care of itself. For stir-fries, consider mushrooms … they are a source of protein (especially things like oyster mushrooms or shitakes). And if you use brown rice or whole-grain pasta instead of white … you’ll get some more protein. We also use TVP (textured vegetable protein) … the trick with it is to soak it in water first, then rinse it and squeeze out all the liquid. Then marinate it in some tasty sauce or even just soy sauce and toss in the stir fry. It’s wonderful! Our favorite meatless dishes: we love Cuban black beans with rice, a tomato & cilantro salad & plantains (true comfort food) … “chicken” noodle soup made with TVP is another favorite … and I adore pasta dressed simply with our own canned tomatoes, garlic and basil. I hope you’ll be posting more about your food journey … it’s one of my favorite subjects! Happy New Year, Friend! 🙂

    • Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) January 7, 2013 at 12:07 am #

      Thanks! That makes more sense not to focus on the protein. I spent a college semester in England. Many people were vegetarian. Something I had not experienced at that point in my life. The meat selection at school was awful, so out of necessity I did not eat much meat either. I remember one of my favorite meals was a baked potatoes with baked beans! Yum!

      Thank you for your other suggestions as well. I’ll also be paying much closer attention to your recipes!

      Happy New Year to you too!


  1. Fantastic Falafel | The Greening of WestfordThe Greening of Westford - August 21, 2013

    […] you may be aware, one of my goals for 2013 is to reduce my family’s meat intake.  There are several reasons for this including environmental, health benefits and budget […]

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