Have you heard of the term Reducetarianism? It might be the best new food trend for better health and the health of the planet. Reducetarianism is the practice of eating less meat to improve personal health, protect the environment and improve animal welfare. By cutting back on meat consumption just a little bit, you can make an impact on yourself, animals, and the planet.
Here are 5 Ways to upgrade eating for your health and the health of the planet.
1. Extend your Meat
Instead of meatless Mondays, eat less meat every day of the week. Make a meat-based meal for four with one steak, instead of a steak for each person. Think stir-fry, pasta, casseroles, stews, soups, salads, and one-dish meals that “extend” meat.
One-pot recipes are excellent ways to create delicious, healthy meals. Include other protein sources like beans, lentils, split peas, nuts, seeds, and veggies like “meaty” mushrooms. Explore recipes from other cultures that use more plant-based foods in their diets like Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and the Mediterranean countries.
Use meat to enhance flavour and complement a dish instead of making it the main dish. Sausages are pre-seasoned, so they make a tasty addition to almost anything. The secret is to remove the casing. The meat can then be chopped into cubes and added to pasta, tossed with veggies and baked, or added to a soup.
One Kielbasa can make a hearty healthy meal for four or more people. There are endless ideas online of how to create great meals with sausages. Try a recipe using MCLEAN organic preservative-free pork or turkey kielbasa, or our tasty turkey smokies.
2. Upgrade your Meat
When you do eat meat, choose the leanest cuts, and try to buy organic or antibiotic-free meat. Think quality before quantity. Since you’re now extending your meat, you can afford to buy better quality cuts that are also organic.
When animals are raised organic, they graze on fresh grass, breathe fresh air, and are given room to roam in groups, instead of being stuck in cramped stalls. This leads to healthier animals which leads to healthier you. Organic meat is raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. Antibiotics can be dangerous and cause antibiotic resistance leading to serious illness or even death.
Most importantly, organic meat is humanely raised, leaner, and raised without toxic unhealthy chemicals. Non-organic meats contain higher amounts of fat since the animals are often fed fillers like corn, which is cheap, but not nearly as nutritious as grass or organic feed which is non-GMO and free of harmful pesticides like Roundup.
Educate yourself on how food is made, especially animal foods. Support organic and regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture has now become the hottest topic in the natural and organic food sector. “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crises, the food crises, the climate crises, and the crises of democracy”. Dr. Vandana Shiva, Co-Founder Regeneration International.
3. Switch it Up
On occasion swap the meat patty on the burger with a Portobello mushroom or veggie patty. Try a chili or spaghetti sauce with Turkey instead of Beef. If every person in Canada ate just 20% less meat, the carbon emission savings would be equivalent to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the roads.
Canada is in an interesting predicament when it comes to meat consumption. On one hand, Canada produces much less land-grown food than other G8 countries like America and Russia, making it highly dependent on other countries for food. On the other hand, Canada is one of the top ten meat-consuming countries in the world. In 2020, 56% of beef was imported to Canada from the United States and 11% from New Zealand.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, 51% of which comes from beef production. This number may seem small but compared to other sectors like transportation (13%) or energy (11%), it’s huge!
Vegetable protein is just as filling and tasty as meat. Vegetables have more protein than you might think. A 100g of lentils has a whopping 18g of protein. One cup of chickpeas has 15g of protein, half the daily recommendation for adults! Even leafy greens have protein. A 100g portion of kale has 5.2g! Soy milk contains 7.3g of protein per 100g, compared to 8g in cow’s milk.
4. Buy Local when Possible
Supporting local farmers is great for the environment and better for you! When you buy from your neighbours, it reduces transportation costs and damage to the environment because food doesn’t have to be shipped across countries or even continents.
Consider farm-fresh local eggs versus store-bought eggs. Eggs from hens fed a healthy diet of bugs, plants and grass have 1/3 less cholesterol – up to 75% more vitamin A and E – 3 times more folate – 2/3 more omega-3 fatty acids – 7 times more beta carotene – and 4 times as much vitamin D.
When food is imported, it must be packaged, refrigerated, or frozen during transit which requires energy and waste. The farther the distance, the higher the environmental impact.
Consider freezing local foods when they are in season to get you through the winter months. You can also try growing food at home like herbs and lettuce. Herbs are super healthy and expensive, so growing them yourself can be a win/win.
5. Upcycle and Waste Less!
Yes, food can be re-used. Make a soup from leftovers. That’s what most restaurants do. Think about getting creative with your leftovers. Most soup begins with a base of sauteing onion, garlic and celery. Then you add any assortment of leftover meats, legumes (beans), grains (barley), and veggies to the pot along with some broth and seasonings. Start with a recipe that might include the foods you’d like to use up and go from there. Or Google recipes using XYZ (your leftovers) to generate ideas. Most foods taste good together.
It is estimated that Canadians throw out on average about 30% of their groceries. Statistics Canada reports that the average Canadian household spends about $214 per person on food each month. Canadians waste a total of $27 billion worth of food each year. Food waste is becoming a major concern, especially when more than 800 million people do not have enough to eat.
We throw away about 175,000 tonnes of food every year from our homes, which is equivalent to $1000 per household or 10% of the average monthly grocery bill.
This is disturbing on so many levels but especially when it includes meat. The first step is to be more aware of what you are throwing away. It is one thing to raise an animal for consumption, but then to thoughtlessly discard it, is ungrateful and cruel.
A lot of food waste is caused by overbuying and not using everything before it goes bad. Buying large quantities of food when you only need a small amount encourages waste. Planning your meals will help reduce overbuying.
Before heading to the grocery store take an inventory of what you already have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and try to create a recipe that uses some of those foods.
Make a habit of checking the expiry dates on shelf-stable foods and donating foods that will soon expire. Use it, re-use it or pay it forward.
McLean Meats is proud to support local charities by donating food. We donate to several food banks and other organizations like Quest Food Exchange whose mission is to redistribute quality surplus food to reduce hunger with dignity.