We've seen the MyPlate where a ¼ of the plate is supposed to be the meat. In most households, the meat takes up more space on the plate, or rests inside a bun that takes up more than ½ of the plate.
But what if meat was there for taste without being the star of the show?
This would be like Neil Patrick Harris' role in "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle."
For example, in my not-so-famous spaghetti breakfast, I sometimes will sprinkle a bit of pancetta or anchovies on top. The meal is vegetarian up to that point (vegan if I skip the cheese), unless I use bacon grease to sauté the mushrooms. But the extra salty nature from the pancetta or anchovies adds extra flavor without being the star of the dish.
Chili is the classic example where a little bit of meat goes a long way, especially with beans in the chili.
Everything goes better with bacon, but if you used well-grown bacon, and used only a slice, you could accomplish a huge difference with just a little bit of meat.
If you cut your bacon strips in half before cooking, they cook faster. But you could also trick yourself into having two "slices" of bacon that in reality is a strip of bacon.
You might remember our look at bacon on top of a veggie burger, a way to add a little meat while the non-meat burger is the star.
The discussion is often about all or nothing: meat-eater or vegetarian. The reality can be different for meat-eaters where they still eat meat but use that meat more wisely in dishes.
An 8 oz. burger is fine, but 3 oz. crumbled beef in tacos, stir-fry, salad topping, chili, spaghetti, or half a dozen other ways could bring plenty of flavor with 62% less beef.
You don't even have to do this every night or every meal. If you went from 8 oz. to 3 oz. 3x a week, you would consume about 50 fewer pounds of beef in a year for such a small sacrifice. And you're still eating 8 oz. of meat a day for 3 other days if you eat meat 6 days a week.
If you are trying to eat better, but are freaking out over the potential loss of meat, this method will give you peace of mind while eating better. You're not losing meat, just cutting back a bit.
Buying well-grown meat with more flavorful taste is ideal when cutting back since you want as much flavor as you can with less meat. The added cost of well-grown meat is offset by using less of it per serving, and wanting to use less overall.
You still get meat and protein, just not as much. And you can add other foods that contain protein, such as beans, into the meal.
While this is about health and taste, using meat as a flavor enhancer also allows us to appreciate the wonder and glory of meat. Buried in a bun with a bunch of condiments, meat doesn't get a chance to shine in a meal. Using good stuff sparingly, but still there, allows the best of both worlds: eating meat, just less.