cheeseburger 

Recent studies have linked red meat consumption to an increased risk of stroke and a much higher risk for prostate cancer. If you’re ready to try going “meat-lite,” we’ve got five tricks to make it painless and easy.

1. Treat meat as a condiment

Rather than having meat as the main course, try using it just to flavor the rest of the dish—and let the veggies, beans, or grains be the main attraction.  This could be as easy as using a bit of bacon to flavor a pot of beans, serving a few slices of steak atop your main-dish salad, or halving the ground beef (and doubling up on the veggies) in your favorite chili or casserole recipe.

2. Use umami

Umami, known as the “fifth flavor,” is the meaty flavor you get from some foods—that aren’t meat. Try using sauteed or dried mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes or eggplant, toasted nuts, soy, or miso in recipes to add a heartiness without any meat.

3. Try tofu (or tempeh, or seitan…)

If you’ve never tried tofu, the time has come (but choose organic, soy is a heavily genetically modified crop)! Extra-firm tofu is easy to cook and soaks up the flavors of whatever you cook it with. If you’re a tofu pro, maybe it’s time to branch out to some other meat alternatives. Check your grocer’s refrigerated section; many meat substitutes even come pre-flavored and pre-cooked to make trying them out a breeze.

4. Embrace eggs

Breakfast for dinner is always a hit! Branch out from your traditional scrambled eggs and try more sophisticated dishes like eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, a quiche or a frittata.

5. Go vegetarian during the day

Veteran food writer Mark Bittman popularized the idea of “vegan til six” in his book, Food Matters, but you don’t even have to go that far.  Just eating vegetarian until supper time can greatly reduce the amount of meat you consume over the long term.

image by rho.doras