Yesterday I talked about the correlation between high meat consumption and obesity. Today, we’re going to talk about easy ways to cut the meat without getting rid of it completely.


First, think about portion size. One serving of meat is 2 to 3 ounces of chicken, pork, or beef. But what do our portion sizes really look like? A proper serving of meat is about the same size as an average computer mouse. But go to the grocery store, and the skinless boneless chicken breasts are the size of your hand – fingers included! So clearly the first step is to begin eating the proper portions. That way, the meal that you think only has one serving of meat actually contains only one serving.


Second, mix up your meals. I think a lot of us grew up with the idea that a big hunk of meat was the centerpiece of the meal, and then we could have small little supporting side dishes with it. Well, no more! Balance out your plate – give yourself large servings of salad and vegetables along with your meat portion. You’ll get more good nutrients, fill up on veggies, and lower your chances of going back for seconds of steak.


Third, make meat the condiment. While there is something satisfying about a nice piece of pork, why not allow other ingredients to shine? Add prosciutto to a salad, or bacon to your Brussels sprouts. You’ll get that meaty flavor throughout the dish, but lower the amount of animal protein you’re actually eating.


Fourth, experiment with different proteins. Beans are a great source of protein, and there are a ton of varieties. Use black and red beans to make a hearty chili, garbanzo beans for a Mediterranean dish, or black-eyed peas for a traditional soup. Throw in vegetables and spices, and you’ve got a flavorful & low-calorie dish with no animal protein whatsoever.


Fifth, experiment with grains. Grains are incredibly filling, and can be used to make the base of (almost) meatless meals. Try some less common varieties, like bulgur or wheat berries. A lot of these grains can be prepared ahead of time, making dinner a breeze to prepare!


Over the next few days I’ll be digging up some (almost) meatless meals for you to experiment with. In the meantime, take a look at Fine Cooking, which offers even more ways to reduce your meat consumption without cutting it out entirely.