ClockPlayEmailInstagramLinkSMSTwitterYouTubeWhatsAppXSearchClockRight ArrowArrow DownCaret downCaret upCaret leftCaret rightHamburger MenuPop OutThumbs upThumbs up buySpeechAudio onReplayPlusMinusSad smiley faceNo resultsSwapMore
Skip to Content

18 Ways To Eat Less Meat Without Even Trying

Calm down, I just said "less."

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

1. Make a little bit of bacon go a long way by cooking it, leaving the fat in the pan, and using it to cook the other ingredients.

You need some kind of fat to roast or sauté vegetables, anyway. This soup has just one and a half strips of bacon per serving, but it'll taste like a lot more.

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Bacon Soup

2. Add rice and beans to ground beef to stretch it further.

The addition of rice and beans won't take away the meaty flavor, and both are just as filling.

Recipe: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

3. Instead of chicken salad — which often just tastes like mayo — try a vegetarian sandwich filling with lots more flavor.

The chickpeas and sunflower seeds have slightly different textures, making the sandwich feel heartier. Vegan mayo and dijon mustard add creaminess, while minced onion provide a refreshing crunch.

Recipe: Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich

4. Eat eggs for dinner.

Don't think of eggs as just a breakfast food. They're cheap, full of protein, and take just minutes to make. Also, they can be totally fancy if you do 'em up right.

Recipe: Pappardelle with Chanterelles in Cream Sauce

5. If you're making a meatless dish, use vegetables with lots of different textures.

Some people say it just doesn't feel like a ~meal~ without the meat. Distract those people with crunchy onion, soft sweet potato, tender broccoli, and layers of corn tortillas. Oh, and a blanket of gooey cheese.

Recipe: Stacked Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

6. Add chopped mushrooms to meat-based pasta sauces.

Mushrooms have a similar texture, and they'll soak up whatever flavors they're being cooked with. The recipe below calls for a cup of sliced mushrooms, but you could add even more.

Recipe: Hearty Beef Bolognese Sauce.

7. Swap the bacon or sausage on your breakfast sandwich for an equally umami-packed savory jam.

Tomato jam is easy to make, and it's just as intensely savory as its meaty breakfast counterparts.

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Jam

8. Make a grain-based dish with a little bit of meat, instead of vice versa.

Rice is filling and delicious, and vegetables, chicken, and egg round out the meal.

Recipe: Chicken Fried RIce

9. Next time you make your favorite stir-fry, use twice as many vegetables and half as much meat.

It'll still be delicious, I swear.

Recipe: Ginger, Beef, Mushroom, and Kale Stir-Fry

10. Get excited about vegetarian entrées by trying new grains, like farro.

If you like brown rice, you'll love farro's earthy flavor and al dente texture.

Recipe: Farro Risotto with Squash and Kale

11. Freekeh is another grain worth trying. It's high in protein and has a unique texture like nothing you've had before.

You won't even notice you're going meatless with all this going on.

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower, Freekeh, and Garlic Tahini Sauce

12. If you're worried that less meat will mean not getting enough protein, get up to speed on vegetarian protein sources.

If you're trying to go completely meatless, here's what you need to know. If you're just trying to cut back on meat a little bit, you probably don't have to worry about protein.

Here are 12 complete vegetarian proteins you should know about.

13. Add vegetable purée to homemade chicken nuggets and you'll need way less meat.

Your kids will be too excited about the fun nugget shapes to notice.

Recipe: Chicken and Veggie Nuggets

14. Use portobello mushrooms instead of meat in tacos or sandwiches a couple times a week.

Andrew Purcell /

When you cook portobello mushrooms properly, they're hearty and taste really substantial. In something like a taco or a sandwich, where there's a lot else going on, they can be just as tasty as beef or pork.

Recipe: Portobello and Zucchini Tacos

15. You might even try making a portobello burger.

There's really no substitute for an honest-to-goodness beef burger. But, if you like mushrooms and you want to switch things up every once in a while, these burgers are much more meat-like than any of the veggie burgers you'll find in the freezer section.

Recipe: Chunky Portobello Veggie Burgers

16. Eggplant is another vegetable that makes a great meat substitute.

Bonus points for the fact that it's often drowned in tomato sauce and cheese.

Recipe: Eggplant Involtini

17. When you make soup or stew, swap just half the meat for beans or lentils.

Legumes are tasty in their own right. Plus, the broth will still be plenty meaty.

Recipes (from left): Slow Cooker Sausage, Spinach, and White Bean Soup, Basil Chicken Stew

18. Instead of grilling up a steak, grill steak kabobs with lots of vegetables.

Hans Gissinger /

You still get the charred, meaty flavor, but with far less actual meat. Also, anything on a stick is so much fun.

Recipe: Sirloin and Summer Vegetable Kabobs with Chimichurri