The Physicians Committee

Top Five Meat Alternatives

  January 25, 2018    

By Lee Crosby, R.D., L.D.

According to recent data from the USDA, Americans are expected to eat a record-high average of 222 pounds of meat per person in 2018. That’s devastating news for Americans’ health.

To put it in perspective, studies show that eating just 2 ounces of processed meat per day—less than the amount on a typical ham sandwich—can up the risk for colon cancer by 24 percent. Another recent study found that just one third of an ounce of processed meat a day—the weight of a single poker chip!—can raise the risk for breast cancer.

On top of that, meat can also up our risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

So what can we do? The good news is that by moving away from meat and opting for a diet based on fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, we can reduce our risk for developing these lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Ready to give it a try but not sure how to jump in?

Check out my top 5 easy and healthy meat replacements!

Top Five Meat Alternatives

  1. Beans and lentils are low in fat, but packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that you won’t find in meat. Use beans and lentils to replace meat in chili, tacos, salads, and no-meat loafs.
    Recipes: Black Bean Chipotle Burgers and Sweet Potato Lentil Chili
  2. Tofu is beneficial for cancer prevention, heart health, and bone health! It’s versatile and can work like eggs or meat in scrambles, stir-fries, soups, or sandwiches.
    Recipes: Tofu Zucchini Scramble, Vegetable Lo Mein, and BBQ Tofu Bites
  3. Portobello mushrooms have a meaty flavor and texture that make them an ideal low-fat, cholesterol-free meat alternative! Grill like steaks or burgers or add to fajitas or pasta.
    Recipes: Marinated Mushroom Burgers and Barbecue-Style Portobellos
  4. Seitan, or wheat gluten, is a high-protein meat alternative that mimics meat in taste and texture. Grill, bake, shape into roasts, and add to stir-fries!
    Recipes: Seitan Piccata and Polenta with Hearty Barbecue Sauce
  5. Meat replacements, like veggie burgers and veggie crumbles, are available in most grocery stores. While whole foods are best, these can be great to use for transition foods or special occasions.
    Recommendations: Gardein Ultimate Beefless Ground and Beyond Beef crumbles are both low in fat and gluten free.

Learn more in my recent interview on The Exam Room podcast!


anti inflammatory diet

I noticed you have oatmeal listed to avoid on the anti inflammatory diet yet oatmeal baths are considered an inflammatory alternative treatment.
Also listed on the avoid list are nuts but most other inflammatory diets promote all nuts. Isn't almond milk a good substitute for dairy milk?

Oatmeal causes a really high spike in my BG

Dear Dr. Barnard--
I have posted this John McDougall's and Dr. Gregor's forums but no real answers. Oatmeal causes my BG to rise above 200 when I eat it and the BG is sustained for a day or two before it returns to normal levels. My HBA1C has been slowly creeping up over the years but the irony is that the oatmeal has also caused my TC to plummet to below 120 so that is a really good thing. My doctor has brought this to my attention. Have you ever heard of oatmeal doing this to some people? Is it still ok to eat if it is causing me sustained blood sugar spikes like this? What are your thoughts if any?


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