Red meat is often a favorite in many homes, and can serve as a delicious centerpiece for many recipes. But did you know that there are alternatives that are better for both your health and the environment?

How can you get started?

Although red meat consumption has been linked to certain kinds of cancer, many may find it too difficult to cut it out cold turkey. Instead, consider other available options. If you are worried about your cholesterol, cancer risk, or are just looking to dial back your cravings for beef and pork, start with baby steps. As an added bonus, some choices may also help the earth too.

What is a sustainable diet?

A sustainable diet is a way of eating that has a lower impact on the environment. It lessens the demand for food items that need to travel greater distances, reducing the fuel and environmental impacts of transport. Sustainable diets also respect animals, their health, and how they are raised. An emphasis is placed on food security, accessibility, and proper nutrition, ensuring food availability for future generations.

Be bold with burgers

Have you ever tried a non-beef burger? If the thought of a veggie burger makes you uneasy, ground turkey, chicken, or salmon make delicious alternatives. Although chicken and turkey still require a more demanding environmental footprint than an all-plant diet, they are a step in the right direction for those who are used to beef. If possible, buy your meat from local farms to limit how much fuel and other transport costs are required to get the food to your pantry.

A quick and delicious recipe begins by mixing in one egg per half pound of ground turkey or chicken. Add a handful of breadcrumbs or some almond meal and some of your favorite herbs or spices. Then knead it into a small ball, and press it gently onto the cooking surface. Cook until the color is consistent throughout the patty.

Go local

Eating locally and regionally sourced food is perhaps the most delicious way to keep your diet sustainable. The shorter distance between the farm and your kitchen means ingredients spend less time and fuel being transported. Buying local also means fresher food and supporting your local economy.

Look to the ocean

Do not forget about fish! A juicy cut of salmon makes a hearty and healthy alternative to steak or pork. Ideally, wild-caught salmon from Alaska or New Zealand is a more sustainable choice than the overfished salmon of the Atlantic Ocean.

Pacific salmon are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, which among other health benefits, can help fight heart disease risk factors. As an added bonus, these fish generally have lower mercury levels than other species. Pair a filet with a side of grilled asparagus and farro with cherry tomatoes for a hearty, flavorful dish.

Consider food temperature

Think about which foods you enjoy in the summer or winter. Do your instincts tell you to reach for comfort food in January and cooler delights in the summer? For some, craving a steak may be more about wanting a hot meal than the meat itself.

Instead of veal parmesan in the winter months, try a hearty minestrone or whole wheat pasta with fresh marinara. Experiment with different foods in various seasons. Paying attention to temperature might just help you make healthier choices.

Start slowly

In lieu of going all out on a vegan diet, aim to replace a meal or two each week with a healthier, sustainable option. Focus on creating dishes with leaner meats and more filling vegetables.

Making smarter decisions at your local market can benefit both your waistline and your wallet. Make time to shop local. It is a great way to support farms in your community, make better dietary choices, and lessen your environmental impact.

For more on sustainable eating, check out this blog post on making the most of the farmer’s market, or ask the nutritionist.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.