Friday, October 22, 2021

If You Want To Eat Less Meat

 There could be different reasons for it, but most people probably are doing it for their health and not out of any ideological reason. I know it was for me. Money saving factor could also influence some people. 

Anyway, from what I read (correct me if I'm wrong) Americans on average eat much more meat than we do here in Europe, some probably 3 times a day, with every meal.

We usually ate meat once a day in the evening, with dinner, for the rest it was mostly cheese/dairy and eggs, with cold cuts sometimes, so it made the switch much easier for me.

The problem is, you can't just cut a major source of protein out of your diet and expect that nothing bad happens. I guess we all know horror stories about vegans losing their hair and getting quite sick in the process. I'm not a big fan of veganism in general, though some of my readers pointed out the diet worked for them. I guess it could for some people, especially middle aged men with heart and circulation problems.

This has been a subject of many heated discussions, but as somebody pointed out, there exist cultures which have been vegetarian for many generations, but none has been vegan. In my opinion, you should at least eat some dairy and/or may be fish, because we need at least some amount of animal fat (not so much animal protein) in our diet.

Anyway, if you cut out meat you will need to substitute it with something. You could start by eating more chicken and fish. The current guidelines in the Netherlands is to eat fish at least once a week, but the American recommendation is to eat it at least twice and better, 3 times a week. That would give you 3 meatless dinners already. 

Health benefits of fish are well-known, just to add anther one: apparently, researchers in UK found out that women who ate more fish had a delayed menopause, which means that their fertility lasted longer.

If you decide for a more vegetarian approach, you can substitute one meat portion (3-4oz) with 2 eggs or 70g of regular cheese or with higher amounts of low fat cheeses like vegetarian mozzarella (6g fat per 100g) or cottage cheese or skyr. The important thing is to look at protein amounts. Many factory made meat substitutes have very low protein content, which makes them rather inadequate. Cottage cheese, on the other hand contains 26g of protein per 200 g with very low fat content. However, it's also low in zinc.

You should take care to get enough B12 (fish, dairy products, eggs) and zinc, since fish doesn't have much of it, unlike some other sorts of seafood.

I'd also like to say a few words about soy. Soy is a very controversial food, supposedly it lowers testosterone in men and makes them effeminate (some researchers deny it), then there is a discussion whether it's good or bad for breast cancer (inconclusive), some of it is genetically modified and it can also lower your thyroid function. It can also suppress your ovulation and disrupt your cycle, so if you are a woman of child-bearing age, it's probably wise to avoid it, or only consume in small amounts.

Many people switch to (semi) vegetarian diets to prevent heart disease and hypertension, and it's generally recommended that such people follow a low-fat diet. 

This type of diets aren't well-suited for non-menopausal women, unless there are very fat, of course, and need to lose weight. If you are a normal weight and stop eating meat and poultry for whatever reason, you'll need some butter and full fat dairy in your diet, since it's been shown by research that low fat dairy interferes with ovulation (again). That's why so many vegan women become (sub) fertile, they miss animal fat in their diet.

In general, if you are under 30 and normal weight, you can probably eat anything and stay healthy. And women are protected from heart disease generally, as long as they menstruate and don't use the pill (which raises the chance of blood-clotting, btw). After they go into menopause the risk starts increasing and catches up with men at some point. At this age, soy probably won't hurt you any more.

So that are just some tips I've learned. As of now I'm following a pescatarian diet. I'm not losing weight this time as I take care to eat more eggs, butter and fat, and eat fish 3 times a week. I'm not ideological about it, so will probably eat meat in future, in any case with Christmas as I'm not planning to cook 2 Christmas dinners.

And yes, quitting red meat did improve my health in some ways, so that's the reason for it.


  1. I've been eating my share of fat when grilling some beef ribs or an occasional steak. I also like a baked white potato and usually eat the skin as well with lots of butter, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and some sour cream and salt and pepper.

    I really should eat more sweet potato, but I can't get excited about them.

  2. We don't eat much meat, not because we don't want to. With 6 children, and a shifting opinion of the kinds of meat to eat, meat has basically become a garnish on meals once a day. We have shifted our diet to try to avoid animals that have been fed a pesticide-laced diet (so--buying organic, non gmo, free-range, grass fed and finished...). That more than doubles the cost of any meat (and eggs, and dairy products btw). This time of year I can stretch it by making a lot of soup. In the summer, we have a lot of "taco salad" or "pasta salad" and if you are lucky you will get some meat in your serving. There won't be any roast beef for Christmas, unless it is a miniature one (at $20/lb) and we all get a wee slice over our green beans. We eat a lot of beans (and I will admit to putting in a slice of bacon sometimes). And my grocery bill is huge despite the small amount of animal products I buy compared to others. Fish is almost out because of trying to find some that isn't laced with mercury, and besides that it is more per pound than chicken (probably because of the cost of is "wild caught" in Alaska, sent to China for "processing" and sent back frozen to the states. hmm.). I'm not being snarky, this is really what we do! I guess we will be healthier (and hopefully cancer free?) but I wonder if beans & rice aren't delivering enough protein in the meantime... maybe that's why I'm tired all the time!

  3. PS I am seriously researching farming.

  4. Texan, I usually eat butter on my bread and toast, and use olive oil for cooking. I know it's another controversy, but it has worked for me so far:) I usually use organic cold-pressed olive oil from Aldi which is a blend of European oils, but it's affordable. Coconut oil I mostly use for skin and dental care, as I don't like it that much. It's also like 99% saturated fat and I keep thinking I'd rather eat the real stuff.

    I absolutely love all sorts of cheese, yogurt and full fat milk but sometimes will choose low fat varieties, especially when I eat cheese as a meat substitute because then I eat it in big quantities.

  5. Lillibeth, great to hear from you!

    Yes, the costs of organic anything are absolutely prohibitive in many cases. I don't even bother with fruit and veg, especially fruit as it's quite expensive as it is. Organic dairy and eggs are more or less affordable though, and even non-organic cows by law have to go outside 6 months a year, 6 hours per day and eat grass, but they still will get gmos in their food. Well, the prices rose with 10% this week, on the generic biological brands.

    Biological meat has always been quite pricey and chicken even more so, but you get sales sometimes and price reduction if it's nearly out of date, but you can still freeze it, of course.

    We've mostly eaten pork btw since the price of steak has always being prohibitive.

    Fresh fish costs more than chicken here, too, lol! I do eat a lot of frozen and canned fish, try to follow recommendations to avoid too much mercury. I think salmon and cod are quite safe, and white tuna is OK once a week (quite cheap canned over here) and then stuff like sardines, mackerel and herring

    Rice and beans are a classic combination, you could also try chickpeas and lentils which are a cheap source of protein. You could be tired because of lack of B12 which you can get enough from dairy but if you have to cut on it, too, you could try a supplement!

  6. Oh yes, somebody once said if everybody lived from subsistence farming we wouldn't have all these problems with overpopulation and pollution. There is a YouTube vid of some guy who lived the whole year from what he grew in his garden and roadkill, but it was really stretching it, plus he lives in Florida...

  7. BTW, I like sweet potatoes, but they are expensive, too, and normal potatoes as well and we eat a lot of them, usually. And now with all these problems with supply chain and corona prices keep rising. I hope my husband will have salary raise in January, they get compensation for inflation now and then, but not since the pandemic started. I guess there is no money any more.