Getting Off the Cow

Reduce the amount of red meat in your diet with these easy tips.

Medically reviewed in June 2021

Cutting back on red meat makes good health sense and makes your RealAge younger. Why? Studies show that eating too much red meat can increase your risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

But what kind of nutrition hole is created when you limit red meat in your diet? The truth is, it's easy to miss out on important nutrients when you cut back on a major food source. So when you cut back on red meat, make a balanced eating plan to help ensure you don't shortchange yourself on important nutrients, such as protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.

To get enough of these nutrients, replace red meat with other foods that contain them. Soy products, such as tofu or soy burgers; legumes, such as lentils or garbanzo beans; low-fat dairy; dark green leafy vegetables; nuts; and whole grains can supply many of these nutrients. Also, poultry and fish are leaner sources of protein that provide many of the same nutrients found in red meat.

Try these recipes for delicious and nutritious alternatives to red meat.

Savory Mushroom Stroganoff

You'll need:

  • 8 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat noodles, cooked
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make this dish:

Mix the sour cream and flour together in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. In a large skillet, saute the onion in the olive oil over low heat until soft. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms brown. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Turn the heat up to high, and add the broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil, and reduce the liquid by 30%. Set the heat to low, and add the mushrooms and onions. Add sour cream and flour mixture to skillet, stirring well. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over noodles.

Nutrition Information (1/4 of recipe -- 4 servings)
Calories: 170
Fat: 4 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Vitamin B12: 0.2 micrograms
Calcium: 38 milligrams
Iron: 2 milligrams
Zinc: 1 milligram

Barbecued Meatless Meatloaf

You'll need:

  • 16 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To make this dish:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend the tofu in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. Mix the brown rice, carrot, celery, onion, walnuts, and bread crumbs together in a large bowl. Add the tofu puree, soy sauce, mustard, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, and black pepper to the rice mixture and combine well. Spray a 5-inch by 9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish, and top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Place the dish in the preheated oven, and bake for 1 hour. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes after baking. Slice and serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Nutrition Information (1 slice -- 1/12 of recipe)
Calories: 154
Fat: 8 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Vitamin B12: 0.07 micrograms
Calcium: 65 milligrams
Iron: 2 milligrams
Zinc: 1 milligram

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