We all know that the overconsumption of animal agricultural products is destroying the environment, causing poor treatment of animals, promoting major health risks, and contributing to global crises such as world hunger. And yet, our culture has been obsessed with consuming meat. The good news is that within the developed world this trend is slowing- more and more people are choosing plant-based diets for a healthy, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable lifestyle
However, this does not have be an “all-or-nothing” choice. Every plant-based meal is one worth celebrating, and being a “reducetarian” is a great starting place for those looking to have a positive impact. Thinking about eating less meat? Here are 7 great tips to help you stay on track with your new commitment:
1. Take it Slow
Winston Churchill once said, “perfection is the enemy of progress.” As well-intentioned as it may be to jump into a fully plant-based diet, it is important to set specific goals that are practical and achievable. For example, start with following the Meatless Monday model by declaring meatless day (or multiple days!) of the week to abstain from eating meat.
2. Try Easy Swaps
The easiest way to make a change in your diet is to start with what you already eat. Are you a burger fanatic? Try a delicious veggie burger! Love your scrambled eggs in the morning? Give tofu scramble a go! Big fan of Chipotle burritos? Consider opting for sofritas next time, or even mix with half the normal amount of meat to start with a simple reduction.
3. Make a Public Commitment
Making the decision to eat less meat is a great step for a healthy, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. But as with any resolution, it’s important to set clear goals and have others keep you accountable. Consider taking this online pledge and sharing your commitment with others. Who knows-maybe they’ll even join you!
4. Explore Alternatives
The best part of enjoying a plant-based diet is being adventurous and trying new alternatives. For example, check out this Country Fried Chick’n for a meatless version of the classic comfort food. Not only are there alternatives to meat, but you can also explore substitutes for other products, such as almond milk or vegan egg replacements.
5. Experiment with Structured Flexibility
An important part of any commitment is balancing structure with flexibility. Additional strategies to eating less meat include weekday vegetarianism or vegan before six. Consider trying these different ways to find what best fits your lifestyle.
6. Meatless Doesn’t Mean Flavorless
So often the plant-based eater is stereotyped as barely surviving with boring salads and bland tofu, but this could not be farther from the truth! Just like with any foods, finding the right combination of spices and flavor is key to a tasty meal. There are tons of healthy, delicious, and easy dishes for those of any taste preference-hearty veggie soups, piquant breakfast burritos, and decadent chocolate cheezcake, just to name a few.
7. Plan Ahead
Always be prepared by having healthy snacks on hand-a bag of almonds in the desk drawer at work, some fresh fruit on the counter at home, etc. Having these choices readily available decreases the likelihood to fall back into old habits. Additionally, consider planning out your meals each week. Take one evening to do all the necessarily prep work by making grab-n-go salads, packing a plant-based lunch, and having a wide variety of convenient pre-made meals on hand. Instead of stressing over the little things, plan for a balanced diet that sets you up for success by celebrating incremental change for a healthier and happier lifestyle.
About the Author:
Brian Kateman is Co-Founder and President of the Reducetarian Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing meat consumption in order to create a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate world. A TEDx speaker and leading expert on food systems and behavioral change, he has appeared in hundreds of media outlets and is also an instructor in the Executive Education Program at the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University.