Love it or hate it, not a week goes by without a high street chain turning out a plant powered product. Now, given the impact of meat on the environment this should be pretty positive for our health and the planet… but as with all trends there’s a risk that style trumps substance. Don’t fret! Here we share simple, delicious tips for making the move to eating less meat whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet, that doesn’t cost the earth.

To start with, we look at the first question on everyones lips at the sound of meat-free:

Won't I miss out on protein?

It's a common misconception that if you eat less meat, you could be missing out on protein, but there's loads of other foods you can find it in. Isn’t it time that we tried something new? Not convinced? What if I told you it doesn’t mean sacrificing steak? Read on for a route to suit your needs.

A recent survey showed that many of us are pretty confused about where protein is found and are ignoring some common and natural sources. Are you? Strap in for a second and get savvy with our 3 protein principles:

1) Know the basic science

Protein contains 9-10 essential amino acids that our bodies can't make alone (10 for children). It's essential for muscle growth and repair and is said to help us to feel full for longer. Some foods contain all 10, whereas some require you to mix and match to meet your quota. Luckily we don’t need every essential amino at each meal, we simply need a certain amount daily.

You can start with a peanut butter sandwich, hummus and pitta or good old rice and peas. Head to our recipe blog for a bloomin’ delicious set of dishes containing beans, whole grains, legumes, seeds or nuts. AKA, all the amino acids you need.

2) Get the right amount

Three quarters of men in the UK eat more protein than they need. A good rule of thumb is 1g of protein per kg of body weight, at a maximum of 70g. People doing a whole lot of exercise, suffering from illness or pregnant women should get personalised advice.

3) Where to find protein

Protein is a real buzzword these days. From protein fortified Mars Bar to milkshakes, flapjacks to corn flakes, it seems that anything with the word protein written on it will sell. Here are a few solo snack with an abundance of protein:

Soybeans, blue green algae, chia, hempseed, buckwheat, quinoa, dairy and meat will all give you a solo essential amino acid hit.

Making the switch to less meat

Whether you eat less meat and dairy, or simply go the whole (vegan) hog, we’ve got some advice for making a delicious transition to suit your mood.

1) There’s no need to go T total on T bone

We all work a little differently. For some it may be easiest to say ‘no more meat’, simple, all decisions made. While others might find it easier to eat less and choose meal by meal, being mindful of the ambition but not feeling that they are depriving themselves of choice. While you might want to go 5:2; having no meat on a weekday but ‘hello Sunday roast’. Start where you are at and enjoy and value what you do eat.

2) Reimagine your favourite meals

Fancy being a quorn again vegan? In the UK many of our staple dishes are built around meat. It can be hard to reimagine a meal without a sausage at its centre. Luckily we’ve done that for you - check out our meat light top 10 UK dishes recipe book. If you want to start simple: substitute mince for lentils; chicken for tofu; quorn for mince or a piece of meat; or meatballs for falafel. Oh and if you're into protein shakes, give pea based protein a whirl.

3) Get cheap and clean

Natural plant based proteins are found in nuts, seeds, pulses, legumes, potatoes, oats, seaweed, soya and vegetables, the majority of which can be sourced from the UK and are more than sufficient to meet your nutrition needs. There’s a lot of stylish meat and dairy substitutes on the market at the moment, but if you want to save money, put your pound towards packets of pulses, nuts and grains and whip up the good stuff yourself. We believe in you. You’ll save on the number of additives too. Need a little inspiration? Head to our recipe blog.

4) Eat the rainbow

Our bodies benefit from variety. For good health, we need a rainbow of nutrients and colors which can be found in the variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables. And many of them bring their own distinctive colors. Making sure your plate is full of colorful foods an be an easy way to get a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. It's not all about protein you know. 

5) Milk it

It’s milk mania out there. Suddenly our isles are packed with cartons of cream liquid; soya, oat, almond, hemp, cashew to name a few. While the milk industry is udderly problematic, reaching for the soya may not be the straight solution. Some of these brands are associated with destruction of rainforests or depleting water in drought ridden areas. What’s more, many are mostly water, which is not always a logical thing to ship around the globe. The good news is that a bit of local organic milk is still a positive choice. Alternately you could try making your own. What’s more you’ll cut out a whole load of packaging. So, the only question that remains is, which will you try first?

6) Egg each other on

Change is easier (and much more fun) when you’ve got someone going through it with you. Find a buddy and make a commitment together. Cooking one another meals and exchanging tips and ideas should keep you engaged and inspired.

Let us know how you get on, share with #MeatYourMatch or drop us a message.