How to Get Your Family to Eat Less Meat (Without Tons of Complaints)

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I’m sure you’re aware that meat consumption affects our health, our finances, and even the environment.  And just maybe you really love meat and your family would mutiny if you went extreme into a no-meat-never diet.  And just maybe, the vegetarian/vegan path is not for you now or ever.  I get it and respect that.

But you know what? Eating less meat and dairy need not be a black-and-white, all-or-nothing battle. You don’t need to swear off dairy or beef for the rest of your life to enjoy the rewards of more plant-based foods. The benefits are personal and universal.

In fact, over the course of a few years, I’ve slowly transitioned my meat-loving husband and our daughter into a largely (notice I said “largely” and not “totally”) plant-based diet, with minimal fussing.

Eat Less Meat

photo by Bigoudis14 // cc

The secret to my diet-switching success? I watched and learned from Cambodian women.

If you’ve spent any time in a developing country, you might have noticed that the non-western world views meat differently than we do. Most of the world doesn’t (and can’t!) have meat as the main attraction at the center of their plate.

They view meat as a flavoring agent.
Almost a condiment.

Those Cambodian women tuck an ounce of meat into the soup stock, so the whole soup is infused with a delicious meaty flavor – without all the fat and cost. They shred ½ an ounce of beef over rice or noodles. They drop a bone into the curry base and call it a day.

These simple, strategic preparations give the dish the taste and feel of meat without piles of actual meat.

I’m sure that this is how all of us ate back in the day. That Shabbat chicken dinner was probably the only meat for the week – and it was probably shared by an entire family plus guests. The rest of the week, it was that illusion of meat – the beef-scented broth and the bits of shredded chicken – that kept everyone happy.

Eat Less Meat
You can do exactly the same thing in your kitchen. Love yourself and your family enough to dial back the meat.


  • Top your spaghetti with just a sprinkling of ground beef.
  • Shred one chicken breast and divide that between six salads.
  • Drop a quarter-sized piece of beef into your soup broth and then toss it when the soup is done.

See? Simple. Your family will be eating healthier and they won’t even know it!

Aren’t you the clever one?

In the comments below, tell me: What steps are you taking to help your family eat healthier?





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