Reducing Your Meat Consumption to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

(This article is part three of a three-part focus on how your food habits affect the planet. We are continuing on from Part One and Two.)

Human beings are omnivores, so it is unrealistic to expect everyone to give up meat and animal products forever. 

However, we can make a significant impact on the planet simply by reducing our meat consumption. It can be by going vegan (or vegetarian) for a month, or by picking a day of the week to not have any animal products.

This compels you to be creative with the plant-based food you have in your ‘fridge and larder. It reduces the demand for animal products, as fewer of them are being consumed.

The Health Benefits of Plant-Based Food

Even if you’re someone who isn’t committed to changing your lifestyle for the planet, reducing meat in your diet has health benefits as well. 

Plant-based foods are lower in harmful fats whilst having more fibre. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals. 

The only issue might be that plants don’t provide you with all the proteins you need. Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are around 20 amino acids that your body requires. Of these, nine are essential—you need to consume them in the form of food. 

Your body can synthesise the others in sufficient quantities.

Meat and soy can provide you with complete protein—containing all nine of these amino acids. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t get them from vegetarian sources at all. 

Plant-based foods do provide you with these essential amino acids, even if you can’t get all of them from one source. You just need to ensure you are getting your protein from a variety of sources.

So, if getting enough proteins is your concern, you can solve it by adding variety to your food. And, you’re only reducing meat in your diet, not eliminating it!

Here are some of our favourite ways of reducing meat consumption.

Tips to Reduce Meat Consumption and the Impact Your Food Has on the Planet

It may seem like a daunting task, especially if meat appears in the majority of your meals, but if you’d like to start reducing your meat consumption, below are a few tips on how to start making a change. 

Combine Meat and Non-Meat

Every journey begins with a single step. If you can’t imagine a meal without meat, don’t remove it completely.

Your first step could be to reduce the amount you’re consuming by bulking the meat up with something else.

For example, if you’re making spaghetti Bolognese, substituting lentils for half of the beef will give you a tasty sauce that is also healthy and high in fibre. You’ve halved the amount of meat required and still enjoyed a tasty meal.

Instead of a large piece of steak, enjoy a small piece of steak with more vegetarian sides. 

If you’re making your favourite stew, increase the number of veggies in it.

You’ll reduce the amount of meat you consume without ever feeling you’ve given it up.

Rethink the Amount of Meat You Eat

Whilst you may have been told that you need protein as part of a healthy diet, many people don’t realise exactly how much protein they need. It might surprise you to learn that only 25%-30% of your daily calories should be from proteins.

As a rough visual guide, if you divide your plate into four quadrants, two quadrants (or half your plate) should be filled with vegetables, one quadrant should be grains, and only one quadrant should be proteins.

Since most people fill half their plates with meat and the other half with sides, it’s fairly easy to see the best way of reducing meat in your diet.

Create a visual pie chart on your plate and ensure that meat only takes up a quarter, whilst veggies get the lion’s share of the real estate.

Look Into Vegetarian Recipes

There are hundreds of thousands of recipes online that use only vegetarian ingredients, and some of them are really tasty. 

If you enjoy curries, you’ll find a whole world of tasty recipes that don’t have any meat in them. 

However, if you’re not convinced meatless can be mouthwateringly good, use meat as a flavour enhancer rather than the main ingredient. A small amount of bacon can give you that savouriness in an otherwise vegetarian stir fry.

Find Ways of Adding the Umami Flavour to Your Food

One of the biggest reasons why meat is so tasty is because it contains glutamates which give it an umami flavour. We require all flavours—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami— in our food. If we don’t get them all, we leave the table feeling ever-so-slightly unsatiated.

So, if you’re making a veggie meal, try to think of it in terms of flavour profiles and find ways of adding that umami-ness to it. 

Maybe try adding a dash of marmite to your veggie stew or a tablespoon of soy sauce to your stir fry next time!

Add More Whole Foods to Your Diet

Proteins tend to fill you up more than carbohydrates, so when you eat less meat, there’s a chance you’ll feel unsated. However, fibre fills you up and leaves you feeling full longer, especially if you also up your water intake.

(Fibre absorbs water and creates ‘bulk’, which leads to a feeling of fullness that lasts for a long time.) 

So, you can mitigate the potential hunger due to reduced meat with more whole foods. Whole grains, vegetables with skins on, brown rice instead of white, and seeds and nuts are all good ways of filling your plate with fibre-y goodness.

Explore Veggie Recipes

Try out some of the many vegetarian recipes out there that are just as tasty as their meat counterparts! 

Eat More Poultry & Pork

These meats have a smaller carbon footprint and can minimise some of the impact on the environment.

Combine Meat & Non-Meat

Bulk up your meals by trading out some of the meat content for more veggies or legumes.

Find That Umami Flavour

Find ways of adding umami flavour to your meatless meals. 

Eat More Poultry and Pork

If you’re committed to the environment but don’t want to give up meat completely, consider eating more chicken, turkey, and pork instead of beef and mutton/lamb.

These meats have a smaller carbon footprint and will help minimise some of the impact that your food choices have on the environment.

Reduce Food Waste At Home

Becoming more efficient with your grocery shopping to reduce food waste also helps the environment. 

If you find that your family is leaving food on the plate regularly, work on smaller portion sizes.

Inspect your ‘fridge for leftovers and use them before they become unpalatable. Love Food, Hate Waste has some delicious recipes from leftovers, if you needed inspiration.

In case you need help managing your ingredients, there are apps that could help you.

Recycle Your Food Waste

No matter how careful you are, sometimes we can’t always avoid food waste. When this is the case, instead of binning food waste with general rubbish, where it will end up in a landfill, consider recycling it.

If your local council does not collect food waste separately, encourage them to do so.

Food waste can be recycled through anaerobic digestion. This process uses bacteria to break down food in a controlled environment. This process creates CH4 (methane) as well, but in this case, it is captured and used as a biofuel.

This biofuel can be used for heating homes, thus reducing the reliance on energy produced from fossil fuels.

Moreover, the remaining (digested) material can be used as a biofertiliser, completing the circle for your food.

Speak To Us About Your Food Waste Management

Our food waste contributes to the climate crisis more than we know. Speak to the dedicated team here on how we can help you reduce your environmental impact. 

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Hemswell Cliff, Gainsborough, United Kingdom, DN21 5TU

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