There’s been an explosion of interest in reducing meat intake in the Western world over the last couple of years. Going vegetarian or vegan is no longer seen as a fringe activity or a fad, but a positive life choice. It’s also become far more acceptable to adopt a mainly vegetarian lifestyle whilst still enjoying meat or fish occasionally.
Whichever path you decide to follow to achieve your aim of reducing animal products and increasing plant-based foods, it’s now easier than ever to follow; but is it worth considering a meat-free diet, and if so, how do you make sure you’re eating healthily?
Why are people cutting down on meat?
There are several reasons why you might want to consider reducing your meat intake. Vegetarians and vegans usually cite either animal welfare or personal health as their main motivation, and studies showing links with red meat consumption and cancer have fueled the move to reducing meat in the diet. There are also several new motivating factors that have arisen over the last few years.
Firstly, it was discovered that farming animals in such vast numbers is adding to the effects of climate change, due to the production of methane and the pressure put upon agriculture to produce grain and forage to feed livestock.
Secondly, the process of rearing animals for food uses considerably more resources than straightforward crop production, and with world hunger being such a big issue, many people feel it would be better to grow crops to feed the population rather than using them to feed livestock.
How do I become a savvy vegetarian?
Your reasons for wanting to reduce the amount of meat you eat have little bearing on how you go about doing so. What is important is ensuring you’re getting enough essential nutrients in your diet, and savvy veggies know they can’t simply cut out meat or dairy without replacing it with a plant-based equivalent. The main concern about the nutritional value of a meat-free diet is a potential lack of high-quality protein. Scientific studies have revealed that there are plenty of alternative sources of protein in plant-based foods that are just as good as the protein in meat, and in fact, it’s suggested they may be healthier than eating meat regularly.
If you still think that animal protein is needed to build muscles and fitness, take a look at a vegan bodybuilding meal plan, which enables you to develop an impressive physique without consuming a single animal-derived product. If you’re a savvy shopper, you’ll know that meat is one of the most expensive purchases in a weekly shop. However, the replacement foods like soya, specialty grains, and of course fruits and vegetables, work out much cheaper, so there are definite advantages financially in reducing meat consumption.
Whether you’re thinking of having a couple of meat-free meals a month or going for a complete change and becoming a vegan, you’ll find plenty of advice, information, and recipes online and in your local library to help you switch successfully.