So you’ve decided to eat less red meat. Here’s how to break it at the BBQ.
So you’ve decided to eat less red meat and become a carbon conscious Climatarian. Firstly, good for you champ! The benefits for both your health and that of the environment of eating less meat, particularly red meat, are well-documented and gaining traction. But if you’ve been following our news here at Less Meat Less Heat you probably don’t need me to tell you that. So instead, let me raise a fist pump of solidarity and offer a few ways to deal with ‘those’ questions that come with eating less meat in traditionally big meat moments.
I’ve been eating less meat for a couple of years now for a whole range of reasons. I feel loads healthier and pretty badass helping to save the environment every time I tuck into my dinner. Also, meat is expensive! And if you’re buying from the mainstream supermarkets, the quality can be really poor. Growing up in a typical ‘meat and 3 veg’ family, steak was on the plate at least once a week. However with freedom from the nest comes the downfall of buying your own food and this is when I started to pay more attention to the food I was eating.
Nowadays I’m enjoying the newfound liberation that comes with eating lower carbon meats (mostly eggs, occasionally chicken and fish) and lots more plant based foods in new and delicious ways. Like any diet, keeping things interesting takes some effort, but it’s the external pressures that can come with eating less red meat that I find most challenging. It’s the questions from concerned friends and family who suddenly have become experts in nutrition and the lack of love from my local pub that continues to hero red meats and offer few options for climate friendly foods that I know can inspire envy across the room. Sounding familiar? Let’s keep calm and carry on climatarian eating as each new meal is a chance to change the conversation and let’s face it, the world.
Here in Australia and around the globe, we love a good BBQ. So how could you possibly turn up to the next sacred cook-up and refuse the beef sausage? ‘Lettuce’ say it’s pretty easy. Below I’ve drafted a few fairly predictable questions (from my experience) with some options that will help you not just survive the ‘grilling’ but also inspire the conscious climatarian in others too.
“So, what meat would you like to pop on the barbie?”
Don’t have a cow man, there are plenty of other options to beef and lamb. But if you can’t bare a BBQ without some meat, bring along a lower carbon option like some chicken and veg skewers, a pork cutlet or even a kangaroo steak from your local free-range butcher. Or if you’re feeling fancy, grilled fish is always a winner and sure releases the grip of those burgers as friends ask to taste ‘just a little’.
“How do you get enough iron and protein if you don’t eat red meat?”
Nutritional concerns for lower red meat diets are pretty common but also pretty misinformed. Listen up folks, chances are your lentil burger has just as much or even more iron and protein then their beef burger. So when your mates are kind enough to share their concerns while shooting the breeze and flipping burgers, feel free to share a few fun facts with them too.
Iron: A 4oz serving of lean ground beef has 2.5mg of iron, vs
– One cup of cooked lentils = a whopping 7mg of iron!
– One cup of cooked spinach = 6mg
– One cup kidney beans = 4mg
– 100g of hummus = 8 grams of protein, the same as one cup of skimmed milk or three spoonfuls of minced beef
– One cup of cooked blackbeans = 15 grams, equal to two chicken drumsticks
– One cup of cooked quinoa = 1 slice of non-fat mozzarella cheese
If you’re keen to learn more about iron and protein, why our bodies need it and the varieties of food sources you can find it, check out the Nutrition FAQs on the Less Meat Less Heat website.
“But eating a beef burger is just the best!”
Sure, a beef burger IS tasty. A classic recipe let’s say. But if you ask me, the unsuspecting heroes of the grill are well-seasoned grilled vegetables (like portabello mushrooms, eggplant and bell peppers) on a lentil-based burger. There’s no limit to the creativity some foodies have, and the good ol’ veggie burger seems to be a place to shine. Check out Pinterest for creative combos like teriyaki quinoa and pumpkin, spicy black beans and sweet potato, and masala chickpea and cauliflower.
Everyone knows the key to a good BBQ is good company and lots of tasty food to go around. So my advice for spreading the climatarian love is to bring a few extra bits to share. All it takes is a few dips here and a few bites there to get people talking about good food and keep them coming back for more. They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Funny that; it’s also the way to a healthier planet.