Call it flexitarian, call it "meat-lite," call it whatever you want, but a diet that focuses more on plant-based foods and less on meat consumption is a much healthier option—for you and the planet. And you don't have to give up meat completely to make a big impact on your health, your budget, or your carbon footprint. Try one or more of these strategies to get started.
- Observe Meatless Mondays
Committing to going vegetarian just one day per week can have a big effect on your health, your wallet, and the planet. If it's too daunting to go veggie for the whole day, try going veggie for dinner.
- Vegetarian or Vegan 'Til Six
Mark Bittman of the New York Times got lean and healthy—while still being an omnivorous world-famous food writer and restaurant critic—by switching to a vegan diet every day until 6pm. He ate whatever he wanted for dinner, including red meat, but the rest of the day's meals are 100 percent vegan.
- Fish on Fridays
It's not just for Catholics any more. Just like Meatless Mondays, committing to eating fish once a week will have a big impact on your health—all those great omega-3s! Just be sure to pick sustainable sources for your fish.
- Halve the Meat
Use just half the meat in favorite recipes like soups, stews, casseroles—even chili. Make up the difference with extra diced or shredded veggies or beans. For example, if you have a casserole recipe that normally calls for a pound of ground beef or diced chicken, try making it with half a pound and adding extra veg. Five bucks says your family barely notices.
- Embrace Tofu
Learn to love meat replacements once in a while. There are some mighty fine veggie burgers available on the market, and I love tofu in my stir-fries almost more than meat. Find a few places where you and your family can love tofu.
- Eat some Eggs
Try making eggs the star of your dinner at least once a week to help cut back on meat consumption. Bonus points for making sure you're buying free-range, organic eggs.
- Soups and Salads
If you're having trouble giving up your turkey on whole wheat every day for lunch, try switching to soups and salads. They're anything but boring. With a little creativity when it comes to toppings and add-ins, you can easily have a different meal every single day of the month.