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9 Small, Easy and Practical Ways to Eat Less Meat

Whether your reasons are environmental, ethical or you’re just not a fan of the taste, eating less meat doesn’t have to be a daunting endeavour. With all things food, we recommend avoiding an all or nothing approach.

If you’re looking to reduce your meat intake, start slow and simple with these dietitian-approved tips.

9 easy and practical ways to eat less meat, according to a dietitian

1. Know your protein options

Protein is an essential nutrient in our diet and it’s critical we eat enough each day, but you don’t need to rely on meat to hit your nutrition goals. Stock up on protein-rich foods like eggs, Greek yoghurt, legumes, tofu, grains, nuts and seeds. Here’s a complete guide to the best vegetable sources of protein.

2. Get your portion size right 

Many people can cut down meat consumption by following portion size guidelines. Instead of that plate-sized steak you usually order, opt for the correct 100g serve, which looks like a palm-sized amount.  

3. Make meat the support act

By making meat a side dish rather than the star ingredient, you’ll automatically reduce your consumption. Meat should only take up about a quarter of your plate or bowl, with plenty of vegetables and wholegrains making up the rest. Research some delicious vegetable and legume starring recipes on which you can serve meat on the side.

4. Go meat-free for one meal 

Eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Make just one of them meat-free. Swap bacon at brekkie for halloumi, make your sandwich salad heavy instead of using processed meat, or try a new plant-based recipe for dinner. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started.  

5. Go meat-free for one day a week

Ready to level up from the previous step? Try a whole day of meat-free eating. Recruit friends or family to stick to a weekly habit like ‘meat-free Monday'. 

6. Mix it up

If you need to reduce your red meat intake (the recommendation is three serves per week) incorporate more white meat (for example, poultry) throughout your week and boost your intake of seafood. Eggs are also a great option to include in your diet as a source of protein and micronutrients, as well as nuts. 

7. Utilise legumes

When making mince-based dishes such as bolognese or tacos, cut half of the mince required and combine with a can or two of either lentils or beans (or both). Not only is this tactic great for reducing your meat intake, it will help you save money as legumes are an inexpensive ingredient. 

8. Try tofu

Go on, give it a go. Tofu is packed with nutrients and a very budget-friendly addition to a healthy diet. It’s fantastic in dishes like curries and stir-fries because it soaks up the other flavours of the dish. If you’re not ready to fully replace the meat in your main dish again, try swapping out half the meat and adding tofu instead.

9. Practice, practice, practice 

One of the biggest problems is that people just don’t know what else to cook. Try one new vegetarian meal per week to build your repertoire of go-to recipes. Whether it’s a recipe in a magazine or good old Google, experiment with something new to extend your repertoire of meatless dishes.  

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

Looking for more ways to reduce your meat intake? Here are the healthiest plant-based meat alternatives you can find in supermarkets.

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