Looking for alternatives to red meat? With all the latest studies pointing to the disadvantages of red meat consumption, you might be eating less and less of it these days. While I might personally believe that consuming red meat every once in a while isn’t going to kill you, I respect those who choose to abstain completely. If you’re considering alternatives to read meat or are stuck in a rut, here are seven fantastic alternatives to red meat that will make a red meat-free lifestyle a total breeze!
Chicken is one of the most popular foods consumed by Americans, making it one of the easiest to find and most fantastic alternatives to red meat. Readily available, you can find chicken at all sorts of supermarkets and grocery stores. Many dietitians and nutritionists might advocate for chicken breast, but I think even darker cuts of meat like chicken legs and thighs pose nutritional benefits. Rich in iron and vitamin B, darker cuts of meat will give you some of the same benefits you get from red meat. Better yet, try buying organic cuts of chicken. I know it costs a little more, but the extra cost is definitely worth the better taste and nutritional profile.
2. Pork Tenderloin
It’s unfortunate that bacon has given pork a bad rap. I have many friends who refuse to eat pork, thinking that it’s full of fat and cholesterol. Realize that bacon is only one cut of pork—you can eat other lean cuts! Pork tenderloin is an excellent cut of meat. Lean in protein and low in fat, it’s one of the most affordable tenderloins on the market. Who needs a traditional pot roast when you can slow cook a pork tenderloin all day? Try this cut of meat next time you’re making a hearty meat and potatoes dinner. You won’t miss red meat one bit!
Everyone lately seems to be on a tilapia craze! Whether it’s the chain Italian restaurant you normally dine at or a sale on seafood at your local grocer, tilapia is the fish of 2014. Rich in protein, this fish is an excellent and lighter alternative for those of you looking for something not as heavy as red meat. The good news is many wholesale markets frequently have tilapia on sale. Try stocking up on this versatile fish, freezing extra portions and taking them out when you have time to cook.
What’s a red-meat-free girl to order when eating out? If you love sushi, try ordering sashimi next time you indulge in this delectable Japanese cuisine. Unlike sushi that’s served with rice, sashimi is the lightest cut of fish you can buy at a Japanese restaurant or sushi bar. Compared to red meat, sashimi has a protein content that also matches red meat ounce for ounce. So instead of a steak house, try the new sushi restaurant around the block and order that sashimi boat you’ve been craving!
5. Beans and Legumes
But what if you don’t just abstain from red meat, but all meat? If you’re a vegetarian, or even a vegan, beans are a great way to get protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. Top a bed of leafy greens with black beans and salsa instead of flank steak for a vegetarian alternative to tacos or fajitas. Use a variety of red, pinto, and black beans for a hearty vegetarian chili free of red meat. Puree beans into a smooth hummus that you can eat with raw vegetables for a protein packed snack. The possibilities with beans and legumes are endless, giving you the ultimate creativity. A completely vegetarian alternative will not only help you avoid red meat, but all animal proteins.
In the Middle East and some parts of Europe, lamb is surprisingly the ‘beef’. Growing up in a Middle Eastern family, my father always remarked how traditional stews and soups were cooked with lamb, not beef. In fact, it wasn’t until he immigrated to the United States that he started consuming beef on a more regular basis. I know you’re thinking that lamb meat could technically be classified as a red meat, but because of lamb’s unique nutritional content, I define it as a great alternative to red meats like beef. Remember that lambs are much smaller than cows, resulting in better and tenderer cuts of meat. Lambs are also more likely to be grass fed, making them a more eco-friendly and greener option instead of beef and other red meats.
7. Ground Turkey
Think you can’t participate in this year’s barbeque cookout? Think again! I know that outdoor cookouts and barbeques are often full of hamburgers and hot dogs, two no-no’s if you don’t consume red meat. Thankfully, you can make your burgers out of ground turkey instead! This will allow you to participate in all the fun of the party minus the red meat. Remember that ground turkey isn’t just for hamburgers Use it in meatballs instead of the traditional beef/pork/veal mix. On taco night, try making your meat with ground turkey instead of ground beef. These simple swaps taste great and chances are you won’t even realize you’re using an alternative to red meat. Always try to purchase a lean cut of ground turkey (93/7) to avoid unneeded saturated fat.
Eating a diet that doesn’t include red meat isn’t as difficult as you would think. There are plenty of options and ways to keep your diet interesting AND healthy—even if you don’t like red meat. What are some of your favorite alternatives to red meat? Any go-to recipes you swear by?