Published: 04/08/2016 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Meat is the main source of high biological quality protein for most of us. It is therefore very normal that meat is highly prized in our diet due to the quality of its protein, but we must be aware that it is not essential in our daily diet, since it is quite possible to include proteins from plant sources in our diet and lead a perfectly healthy lifestyle.
Meat, the star ingredient
There are different types such as red and white, which refer mainly to their colour.
Red meat: Beef, deer and other animals with reddish flesh. Usually richer in fat and not recommended for frequent consumption in a healthy diet. Eating red meat once a week is sufficient, although it provides a very good contribution of easily absorbed iron for the body.
White meat usually refers to poultry or white fish and is considered slightly healthier due to the fact that it has less fat. It is therefore slightly more desirable than red, although it is also not recommended for daily consumption.
Interestingly, although meat should not be the main base of our diet, if we talk in terms of nutrition, today it is, for many of us, the food with more nutritional value and sometimes more palatable, as most of us have the idea that meat it is very nutritious and good for our body. However, the truth is that balance is the key to a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the modern diet often abuses its consumption, causing problems in our levels of uric acid and cholesterol and often resulting in heart disease and gout.
There are many reasons for wanting to eat less meat in our diet, but whatever the reason is, to eat a healthy diet it is always recommended to reduce or even avoid its consumption altogether.
1. Give yourself a general check-up
Before making changes to your diet, it is always advisable to check your overall level of health. While carrying out a diet or dietary changes may seem harmless, it never hurts to make sure we are not suffering from a nutritional problem or deficiency, such as anaemia, before making the change.
2. Reduce your meat intake gradually
Perhaps you have decided to switch to a vegetarian diet or simply want to eat less meat. If you think it is a difficult decision, do not be too demanding on yourself as drastic changes can be difficult for the body to accept and therefore you should start gradually reducing the amount of meat you consume. For example, if you usually eat meat 7 times a week, try first to reduce your consumption to 5 days, later 4 days and so on until you reach your goal.
You can also try serving smaller portions of meat until ultimately you substitute it for something else.
3. Use meat substitutes
Who says that a vegetarian can not eat a hamburger? Some vegetables and other products are excellent meat substitutes. The soybean, gluten or seitan are some examples of ingredients that substitute meat in any recipe. You just need to season them well and soon you will notice that meat can be replaced in your diet.
4. Cook your vegetables in different ways
Only eating salads does not have to be the general rule for vegetarians, in fact, the salad is just one example of how we can take advantage of vegetables. The truth is that vegetables can be used in many ways in our cooking, from cauliflower ceviche, to vegetarian pizza.
5. Look for vegetarian recipes
If you have no idea how to cook your vegetables or other foods without leaving your normal routines, it’s time to enlarge your recipe portfolio. Get involved! Subscribe to a vegetarian cuisine channel or buy a book of vegetarian recipes. You can also find many great recipes on the Internet, which are very varied and allows you to experiment. The more recipes you put into practice, the less you will miss meat in your diet. Remember that it is a matter of making changes, although it may seem a bit difficult at first.
6. Combine Legumes and cereals
One of the major concerns we have when eliminating animal flesh from our diet is where we will get high quality protein from? The answer is very simple: From plant-based proteins such as legumes and cereals. By themselves, these foods are not considered sources similar to that of meat protein, but if combined well, they complement each other, thus achieving a balance that provides us with a good source of high quality protein. Combine rice with beans, lentils and bread.
7. Rely on other protein sources
Unless you want to be a strict vegetarian, ie avoid eating any animal foods or products, you can consume animal foods that are not necessarily meat, such as egg and milk, because their proteins are of high biological quality, although it is recommended not to consume them in excess to avoid excessive intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.
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