Some of you follow me on Instagram, where I always share our dinners each night and our weekly meal plan on Fridays. Y’all have noticed that our family has cut way back on our meat consumption, and I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about it. Everyone is curious – why did we cut back on meat?
About 8 years ago, we started down our path of healthy living.
We started too fast at first. At first, I wanted to do it ALL. Homemade sourdough bread, fermented foods, buy and make everything organic. I wanted to cook everything from scratch. I didn’t want to use any chemicals or anything toxic anywhere in the house. And as you might imagine, I very quickly hit burn out SO bad. I burned out so bad, that I did a 180 and started to go back to buying processed food, eating out a whole lot more, and as a result, we didn’t feel good.
That’s why I always encourage people to go slow.
When you decide you want to eat a healthier diet or live a healthier lifestyle – you have to go slow. Burnout is a real thing! I have been there and it’s no fun. That’s where good, better, best comes in. This idea not only works with food, but with everything in life. Just make one healthy, lasting change at a time. And that’s just what our family did. We tried to make one healthier choice at a time. And y’all this was something that wasn’t overwhelming.
Making one small healthy change at a time was something that I could do.
One of these steps has been to go a little bit more organic. A lot of the organic labeling is questionable. I’m not even sure about it, y’all! And I know I might get some pushback on this because I told y’all to eat poorganic. I haven’t changed my tune; I will always stand by that! I truly believe one of the best ways to eat healthy is to cook from scratch with the best ingredients you can afford. If you don’t know where to start in your healthy eating journey, the best change you can make in your home is to focus on cooking more items from scratch instead of buying processed foods.
You are what you eat eats too.
I’m reading In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. It’s not my usual choice in book because it’s a little science-y. But there are several things in this book that have really hit home with us. The one thing that really stuck out with us is Michael Pollan’s idea that you are what you eat eats too.This means that the diet of the animals we eat matters! The food that cows, chickens, pigs, etc. eat has a huge impact on the nutritional quality, and healthfulness, of the meat, milk, or eggs that we consume.
To set the record straight, just because we cut back on meat, doesn’t mean we don’t like meat.
I don’t want to be a vegan or vegetarian. I love bacon and cheese too much. Can I get a witness? But feeding 6 people high quality, organic meat every day is very expensive. I want to be able to buy higher quality produce and dairy. And right now, I can’t afford to buy both high quality produce/dairy and high quality meat. Since my husband is a hunter, we are blessed with the venison meat he is able to provide our family in the fall. Since I don’t have enough venison to supply us for the whole year (and high quality meat is SO expensive!), I make meal choices that do not revolve around meat.
We cut back on meat each week by limiting our menu to 3 meals with meat a week. It’s good for the budget and it’s better for us. We have to eat more fruits and vegetables when the meat takes its leave from the plate. But seriously y’all – we haven’t missed it at all! In fact, one of my children is not interested in meat at all and he’s super happy with this change.
Barry and I did a Whole 30 recently which was very focused on fruits, vegetables, and meats. Barry and I were always hungry! Barry said, “For as much meat as we’re eating, I didn’t expect to be this hungry!” We feel like we are less hungry when we eat fresh, whole grains, and vegetables. Our society focuses so much on protein and we’re conditioned to think protein means meat. But y’all there are so many other great sources, including fresh grains!
Where do I get my meatless meal ideas?
First, let me just say that I could browse Pinterest for hours because there are literally thousands of recipes, tips, and ideas for how to cut back on meat. It’s a great place to start looking for meatless meal ideas! But if you want to start someplace a little less overwhelming, I also really enjoy the recipes over at Budget Bytes. There are a ton of great meatless meal options that are also super affordable. They don’t require a ton of expensive vegan ingredients. My whole family loves her Easy Southwest Mac and Cheese and Black Bean Nachos! I’ve also found lot of great recipes on 100 Days of Real Food, Dashing Dish, and Oh She Glows.
Set goals and start slow!
If you decide you want to cut back on meat, you may be wondering where to start? Think about what your long-term goals are for your family’s health and nutrition. Then start making plans for how to get there. Our ultimate goal is to be able to buy as much as we can from the farmer’s market: meat, produce, and dairy. That is the goal, but we just aren’t there right now. But if you always aim for best, you’re going to drive yourself crazy, girl! Which means right now, I am aiming for better. Maybe for you this means that instead of meat every night of the week, throw in one meatless meal a week. Start slow. Don’t burn out.
Let me know if you have any thoughts or tips on how to cut back on meat consumption. And feel free to share your favorite meatless meal ideas in the comments!