How Much Meat Should We Eat?

Updated on October 28, 2010
M.G. asks from Flower Mound, TX
11 answers


Is it healthy to eat animal meat every night for dinner? Should I do a couple of vegetarian meals every week, just to give us a break from animal meat? I know how important it is to get enough protein, and I have been serving animal meat every night lately (ground turkey, turkey burgers, and chicken). Two nights ago I made pizza bagels (with no meat), and another vegetarian meal last night. Today, my friend told me that animal meat is very good for us b/c we need the protein and that it is good to eat animal meat every night. Is she correct? Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for your replys! I am trying to avoid soy/tofu (due to the fact that it acts as hormones when digested and can contribute to breast cancer), so that narrows it down to beans and quinoa, I think. I just bought Quorn (meat free, soy free) the other day, and it was okay, as well as some controversy. I don't love quinoa, but I will give it a try again. I know we need to eat more beans. Is it okay to eat them from a can, or should I buy one of those big bags of hard beans and then let them soak in water overnight and then cook them the next day? Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from Las Vegas on

While I am not a nutritionist, I can tell you what my doctor said to me while I was prego's and had very little desire to eat meat. He was okay with me eating the salads everyday, but I should eat one piece of meat once a week. At least palm sized.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm also not a healthcare professional. However, It is my understanding meat is not at all a daily, especially how most of us eat it -- 2 - 3 X a day requirement. There are so many alternatives that give your family the protein they need without the excess fat (and not hormones, and other additives) that is in our meat. Try Quinoa!! Its a delicious grain very high in protein and even gluten free. Also beans, tofu, etc. I try to balance what is healthy for us all, but add healthy calories for my little one, who is pretty small. Adding beans, whole grains, etc. is a great way to do it, and gives more nutrients that a slab of animal... (Not gonna lie, I love a good steak every so often) :o) Read ingredients, that will guide you.

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answers from Sacramento on

Thanks Michelle for asking this question! I don't have an answer, but will find others' answers interesting and useful.

Oh, I do agree with Sarah G. re: Quinoa. It is AWESOME. It's a staple in our home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

So what about the people that choose to be vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat at all? There are plenty of other good sources of protein and if done correctly, a vegetarian diet is very healthy! I would recommend researching it some and finding some vegetarian recipes on-line or elsewhere so you can know what is healthy and what is not. My stepson tried to be vegetarian for a while but for him that meant eating only fries and pizza - not good! On the other hand, one of my best friends is vegan (no meat, dairy or eggs) and has been for over 20 years. She knows what she is doing and knows where to get protein from non-animal sources. So no, you don't need to eat animal meat every night or at every meal.

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answers from Portland on

This is a loaded question! Everyone has such strong opinions. Die-hard omnivores like me feel like no matter what today's nutritional scientists say, someday they will realize that some amount of meat IS necessary. But the American Cancer Society and probably a lot of other organizations say it's better to not eat meat. I eat meat, probably way too much of it. I would urge you to ask the opposite question: How little meat can I eat and still feel healthy and happy?

I don't want to offend any vegans, but it sounds like you're not interested in following a restricted diet, otherwise you would already be a vegetarian and not asking how much meat you should get. So my advice is strongly influenced by my mom and Michael Pollan. You should look at what healthy indigenous cultures eat (or ate, since almost no one follows old eating habits anymore). Some, like Eskimoes, ate pretty much only meat and seafood. It's been said that the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest there is and I can tell you that in the Orthodox calendar followed in Greece, about half the year is made up of fast days, spread throughout. So no meat on Wed or Fri and then no meat on major fast seasons, like Lent. While I'm not urging you into Orthodoxy, this has influenced the amount of meat they eat in Greece by a lot and it can inform your decision as well. If you pick two or three days a week you won't eat meat, and then use moderation on the other days, I think it would be a healthy decision and a smart way to limit yourself without feeling deprived.

Another rule of thumb I once heard is to not eat more than 3 or 4 ounces of red meat a week, but boy do I blow that every time I eat a burger!

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answers from Detroit on

We also have cut down on meats!!! A great percentage of americans ?(and the world) eat a slab of meat at EVERY meal... Bacon, sausage, tuna, chicken salad, bolognia, turkey breast, ect... and all before dinner... We are down to a few dinners with meat as the main dish, and the rest non meat meals...There are lots of options to get the nutrients... And cheeseburgers and steaks are just a few... :-) And what we are gonna have for dinner tonight...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I think the answer really depends on your body type and the quality of meat you're eating. Myself, we have red meat maybe 1-2 times per week and usually have vegetarian 1-2 times per week. The rest of the days will be fish or poultry but almost never pork.

When we do eat meat, it's either wild game or fresh frozen pasture raised from the local farm. Store bought factory farm meat bothered me and my digestion even before Omnivore's Dilemma and Food Inc came out.

There are other sources of protein out there. Just be aware that whatever is stored in the fat of the animal you are eating is going to have to be processed by your body.

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answers from Dallas on

I think you are doing okay, but it couldn't hurt to add in some healthy vegetarian meals if you would like.

When it comes to meats.....Choose grass fed meats without hormones. I splurge and buy all my meats at Whole Foods. And choose lean meats. For example, I buy the boneless skinless chicken breasts and then cut off any fat left on them.....they are totally lean for my family. The skin is unhealthy too. When you do choose red meat follow the same rules. Choose the leanest possible, and cut off anything you can.

We have breakfast for dinner sometimes.......eggs are your protein.

Give tofu a try. There are lots of recipes on the internet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

No your friend is not correct. Talk to any dietitian and she will be disproved. While you need protein, there is no reason that your protein has to come from an animal. Several whole grains, beans etc contain adequate amounts of protein. Check into your actual daily protein requirements. You may be surprised to see that it is a lot less than most people realize. Also if you are eating other animal foods beyond their flesh (cheese, eggs, yogurt etc) you are probably already exceeding your protein requirements. Good for you for doing your homework and trying to do your best to prepare healthy (meatless or meat based) meals for your family.

Your follow up question about beans....I think it comes down to your personal preference. I use an occassional can but most of the time I start with dry beans. I soak them overnight and let them cook in a crock pot during the day. Dry beans are extremely inexpensive source of protein, fiber etc. However, my main reasons for using dried beans are: less sodium, less waste (no can to discard) and no need to wonder if there is any impact to my family from the BPA lining of the can.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

There is no need to eat animal meat at all. There are many sources of protein, iron, and other nutrients that meat lovers say you need animals for. In fact, the healthiest people I know and have met are vegetarians, vegans, and raw food enthusiasts. In fact, I met a woman speak that lost 80 pounds AND (her words) cured her non-operable cervical cancer through a raw food diet! Plus you will be doing the environment a favor. :)

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answers from Atlanta on

It all depends on the type of meat you eat. Lean, organic/100% natural poultry and meats that have not been raised on any hormones and are grass fed are fine every day in the right portion -usually 3-4 oz. It's worth it to pay extra for those natural meats! It certainly isn't a bad idea to go vegetarian for a few meals a week either. There are great recipes for veggie chilis, soups, stews, Mexican casseroles -and one of my faves -dirty rice made with Veggie Crumbles and corn. Beans will give you lots of protein. Also, unless you are personally at a higher risk for breast cancer, I wouldn't worry about eating soy/tofu once or twice a week. The problem is primarily in people who are eating it daily or in very large quantities.

1 mom found this helpful
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