Eating Green: How to Reduce the Amount of Meat You Eat

Many people don't realize it, but one of the best ways to reduce your personal impact on the environment is to eat less meat. Although all forms of food production use resources like land, fossil fuels, and water, the production of livestock for meat uses the most. Here are some easy ways to reduce the amount of meat in your diet, eat a healthier diet, and reduce your impact on the environment all at the same time.


The Environmental Impacts of Eating Meat

One big reason meat production is so resource intensive is because of feeding inefficiencies. Producing meat from an animal fed grain requires much more food and water than just producing the grain itself. In other words, producing one pound of meat requires much more water than producing 1 pound of grain-according to some studies, up to 10 times more. The environmental impacts associated with meat production include:

  • Global climate change
  • Air and water pollution
  • Deforestation
  • Water scarcity
  • Species extinction
  • Social injustice
  • Spread of disease

But What About Protein?

Reducing or eliminating meat from your diet doesn't mean you'll be eliminating your only source of protein. Eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables will supply most people with an adequate supply. And unless you're a professional athlete, you probably don't need as much protein as you think. The USDA average recommended daily allowance for protein is 63 grams for an adult male and 50 grams for an adult female. The typical American consumes somewhere around 103 grams daily, about 70 of those grams from meat.


Tips for Consuming Less Meat

Adapt your favorite recipes. Reducing the amount of meat you eat doesn't mean you have to stop preparing your favorite dishes. Try adapting them by leaving out the meat or replacing it with vegetables. Use beans or rice in place of meat in chili and stew, or substitute spinach or zucchini for the sausage in your lasagna.

Replace meat with meat alternatives. Most major grocery store chains now carry a wide variety of meat alternatives that mimic the taste of their meat counterparts surprisingly well. If your store has an organic section look there first. Otherwise check the freezer section and you'll find faux BBQ ribs, chicken tenders, veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, veggie sausage and bacon and even veggie steak strips. There are also a wide variety of meat substitutes on the market-plain or flavored tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and faux sandwich meat.


Try eating meat only on the weekends or save it for when you eat out. Meat can be the most expensive item on your grocery list, so cutting back this way not only reduces your consumption, but you'll save substantially on your grocery bill. A growing number of people are also taking the "Meatless Monday" pledge.

Stock up on spices. It can be difficult to make changes in your diet if the new foods you try don't taste interesting. Buy some new cookbooks that focus on vegetarian cuisine and explore new flavors using a variety of fresh herbs and spices.

Eliminate meat-only dishes like steaks, burgers, and roasts, and switch to dishes like lasagna, pizza, casseroles, and soup where meat is used only as a secondary ingredient.

Get the whole family involved. Sign up for a vegetarian cooking class, or make each family member responsible for finding a new meat-less recipe for everyone to try. Ask everyone to vote and establish some new favorite meals.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

January 26, 20100 found this helpful

As a new vegetarian, I think this was excellent. Luckily, since meat is so expensive in Australia, I've been eating very little meat for the last couple of years or so, anyway. We have lovely meals, and many of them can be eaten by meat-eaters and are so delicious, that no-one would ever know there was no meat in them. One has to remember that no meat doesn't just mean a bowl of steamed vegetables - it's so much more than that.

As the above post mentioned, there are so many herbs and spices to add real flavour to meals, and they can all be bulked up with delicious pasta, or pulses (I'm addicted to chick peas (garbanzo beans),) and any amount of vegetables. Try something new, it's all gone far beyond peas and beans, nowadays.

Even one day without meat a week will save a little money, and introduce the family to a brand new way of eating.

Leah from Down Under.

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January 30, 20100 found this helpful

I have been vegan for about 8 years now. I look and feel better than I ever have. I never liked meat even as a child so becoming vegetarian was easy for me. I do have friends who used to enjoy the taste of meat but since I've introduced them to so much good vegan food, most of them rarely eat it now. Their body started rejecting it! I am 40 and everyone thinks I'm about 27. I never try to convert people but when people tell me they have a meatless day or even a few days, I tell them that they are making a big contribution to the earth. I always recommend for people to go meatless at least once a week if possible. Another interesting side note (this is something I discovered); vegetarians smell and taste better! You are what you eat right? :D

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January 31, 20100 found this helpful

Vegan for over a decade, here. For great veg recipes, check out

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks for encouraging people to cut down on meat. Eskimos eat meat because they can't grow vegetables and hunting is their way of life. We live in a world where we can be omnivores. Let's try to eat locally produced food to encourage a sustainable economy for our area and reduce the need for imported fuels.

Check out the "Prince Charles Save the Rainforest Campaign" on Youtube. It's charming and only 1 and 1/2 minutes long. It would be so nice if commercial Television stations would have the guts to run it. Or PBS - which is supposedly noncommercial.

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February 13, 20100 found this helpful

There is a great book you should read called the omnivores dilemma. By Micheal Pollan. You do not talk about the environmental damage done from eating vegetables. They use ammonium nitrate which runs off into water supplies killing whole Eco systems and killing many things along the way. Alot of the food you eat comes from other places that have to travel between 3 and 5 days way. That is a lot of gas and other things that pollute the air as well. The only way to cut that down is to eat organic foods and eat locally grown organic foods as well.

One last point is this meat flavored substitute is very unhealthy for you. There is so much soy in it. You should not be eating that stuff. Here is a web site ( I am sure there are more) to go to see what I am talking about. You'll be able to read about the affects of eating soy. One thing that you should ask yourself before you eat anything is : Is what I am eating really food?

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