With a Side of Meat   4 comments

“Eat less meat” We’ve all heard that before. But why is this such a challenge in our society to begin with? I got to wondering that a while ago and I realized that part of the issue could be the way we view meat in relation to our meals. Generally in American society most meals are planned around meat. What’s for dinner? Chicken. Steak. We eat more protein than we need. The starches and vegetables alongside the meat are often sort of considered second class citizens. But meat isn’t a god, or the sun, or a child; the world does not revolve around meat. It is just a class of ingredient. Also, the recommended serving size for meat is something like 3 or 4 ounces (that “pack of cards” guideline), but face it, that’s hard to do when the meat is the center of the meal.

My thought – relegate meat to side dish status, not necessarily main dish status. Use meat as ingredients to augment the other foods on the plate. These aren’t exactly crazy concepts, but I think the general attitude is the challenging part. At home we usually follow this since we usually plan vegetarian meals and then sometimes decide to add some sausage. Occasionally I’ll get a beef or lamb or buffalo craving and then we’ll usually get some ground or cubed meat to add to something. There is the rare occasion when we decide to buy steak or pork chops or something similar and then plan a meal around it. Somehow I often find that the meals planned around a piece of meat are less fulfilling then meals that just incorporate the meat.

Changing my attitude should make eating out at restaurants a little healthier (only a little, though, I just don’t have that much self control) and cooking for Game Night less terrifying because I will commit to no longer trying to make the meat a star ingredient. And for everyone who cooks a big holiday dinner, take some of that turkey pressure off and accent all of the other million dishes on the table. Is this a doable attitude shift for many people? What do you think?


Posted June 24, 2010 by mayakey in food

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4 responses to “With a Side of Meat

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  1. I think we are carnivorous by nature and while in the hunting/gathering times meat was a side dish probably due to its scarcity and the number of people who had to share one kill, we are programmed to eat it on a biological level. Michael and I have this argument for fun quite often: with everything we know, have we actually evolved to the point where meat is no longer a necessary part of our diet? Have we outgrown meat?

    • I don’t think that we have evolved to where meat is no longer a necessary part of our diet. It is actually harder to be a vegetarian than an omnivore because there are minerals that are easiest to get from meat. Protein is easy to get, we don’t need meat for that. Generally, Americans consume more protein than we need to (and more fat…and more sugar, too, but that’s a different story unless you eat cinnamon sugared steak). But we have this “meat and potatoes” attitude still pervasive in our society where the meat dish is the center of the table. And there are a lot of people who won’t even consider eating a meal that does not contain a large portion of meat in it. I’m definitely not suggesting we all become vegetarian because I love my beef/lamb/buffalo, but just that we don’t focus so much on being carnivorous.

  2. The most challenging part of not eating meat, besides craving it, of course, is getting enough vitamin B12. It is found mainly in meats, some fish and seafood, some cheeses and eggs. Some foods are fortified with it so one has to do research to make sure one gets enough of it. Does that make us genetically carnivores?

  3. I agree with that..we are carnivores in nature…

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