preparing vegetarian meal, chopping beets, peeling pears; potatoes, carrots and celery on a wooden board

10 ways to eat less meat

Eating a sustainable diet — with less but better-quality meat — is not only better for the planet, it's better for our health too.
  Published:  08 Aug 2017    |      2 minute read

So it's not surprising that, together with the health benefits of eating less meat, more of us are turning towards vegetarian or flexitarian diets. It’s also an easy way to prepare budget-friendly meals for all the family.

If you think a vegetarian-leaning lifestyle sounds too hard here are 10 easy ways to help you eat less meat.

1. Switch to non-meat protein alternatives

Swap the meat in traditional recipes for alternatives such as pulses, tofu, quorn, or soya. Try a golden veggie shepherd's pie or vegetarian bolognese.

bowl of meat free spaghetti bolognese made with quorn
bowl of quorn spaghetti bolognese
Credit: Quorn Foods Deutschland

2. Cook vegetarian recipes for the whole family

If you're cooking for children as well as adults, it's even more important to ensure you've got the proteins, minerals and brain-boosting nutrients young people need. Try these vegetarian recipes for families.

Pulse gratin on table
Pulse gratin
Credit: Jenny Chandler

3. Try filling and healthy soups

Soups are an easy meal option that you can cook in bulk and freeze. They're filling and healthy, especially if you incorporate pulses and serve with bread or pitta bread. Try this Moroccan split pea soup recipe.

bowl of veggie soup with a slice of bread on the side
Veggie soup
Credit: Jenny Chandler

4. Eat seasonal fruit and vegetables

Get to know what's in season. Eating food that's just been picked tastes better, is better value and is better for the planet.

healthy fruits and vegetables salad served on a plate on wooden counter
healthy fruit and veg salad
Credit: Dean Mitchell

5. Make your meat go further

Buy better quality meat and plan recipes to make the most of it. Learn how to make a roast chicken last a week.

Plate of roast chicken, gravy, and broccoli
Roast chicken with broccoli
Credit: Michael J. Bennett

6. Expand your veggie recipe repertoire

Go global and experiment with vegetarian recipes from other countries. Try these collections of recipes from around the world.

World map of brown rice on plate
World map of brown rice
Credit: Thinkstock

7. Fit food and cooking into your lifestyle

Find recipes that work for you and your lifestyle. If you're short of time, try these quick recipes.

If you have time in the morning to prepare a few simple dishes, consider investing in a slow cooker. Have a look at these 50 vegetarian slow cooker recipes or 35 slow cooker recipes for busy or lazy vegetarians.

casserole dish on a stove
Casserole cooking
Credit: istock

8. Party food ideas

There are plenty of great dishes that work well for celebrations and parties — and BBQs don't have to involve shop-bought veggie burgers! Try these tasty veggie recipes for parties, picnics and BBQs.

Friends of the Earth staff trying veggie sausages
Friends of the Earth staff trying veggie sausages
Credit: Friends of the Earth

9. Plan what you're going to cook

Planning gives you more chance to think creatively, rather than defaulting to your usual meat recipes. You'll find loads of ideas online — start with some of these flexitarian recipes. Planning ahead will mean more creativity in the kitchen.

Man having a vegetarian meal
Veggie dinner
Credit: Thinkstock

10. Satisfying salad recipes

Often overlooked as a main dish, salads can make a filling meal, especially if you add beans, nuts, avocado or cheese. In the colder months you can choose warm ingredients such as roasted vegetables. See BBC Good Food vegetarian salads and 50 meal-worthy vegetarian salads.

bowl of veggies, grain, and cheese salad
veggies, grain, and cheese salad
Credit: Jenny Chandler

Eating less and better meat is one of the key ingredients to a diet that is more sustainable and healthy for you and the planet.