Different diets: the meat-eater

Wilfred Howcroft

Wilfred Howcroft, 76, from Shropshire, was first diagnosed with angina aged 38 when he was serving in the RAF. He has always favoured a traditional British diet that includes meat.

“I don’t eat meat every day – probably 3-4 times a week,” he says. “If I’m cooking a chicken curry, I use thighs and remove the skin first. If I do roast chicken, I tend to use roasting bags, which you can drain the fat from when the chicken comes out of the bag.

“Evening meals could be anything from simple chops with plenty of vegetables and potatoes or rice to a pasta-based dish. Some days I won’t have any meat at all, but it would tend to be fish on that day, such as a spicy fish curry, instead.”

Get our recipe for seared steaks with sticky shallot and red wine sauce

Victoria’s verdict

A meat dish A meat diet needn’t restrict you to a plain meat-and-two-veg meal every night; like Wilfred, you can mix it up with pasta dishes, stir fries and curries.

Choose lean meat and use healthier cooking methods to cut the fat content. By removing the fat from a steak and grilling it, rather than frying it, you can halve the amount of saturated fat. But if you have skinless chicken breast or lean pork, they contain even less saturated fat.

Lean cuts of meat might seem more expensive, but you don’t need as much because there is less fat to discard. Plus you can bulk out stews and casseroles with extra vegetables and pulses.

Myths about meat

"Lean cuts of meat might seem more expensive, but you don’t need as much"

1.  You can’t eat red meat if you have a heart condition

Choose lean cuts of red meat or extra-lean mince to keep the saturated fat content down.

2.  A meat-and-two-veg diet is nearly always fattening

A traditional combination of meat with steamed or boiled vegetables and potatoes makes for a balanced and healthy choice, but choose a lean meat and avoid frying and adding fat.

3. Meat eaters don’t get enough veg

Snack on fruit between meals and add vegetables to dishes to help you towards achieving your 5-a-day.

4. Meat is bad for your health

The amount of saturated fat in different types of meat will vary but processed meats like bacon, sausages and ham can come with lots of salt, too. Make sure you read food labels to make a healthier choice.

5. Most people have too much red meat in their diet

On average, people in the UK eat 70g a day of red and processed meat (cooked weight), which is fine. The Department of Health recommends you don’t eat more than 90g a day.

A meaty diet

Good for...

  • Providing a wide variety of foods
  • Easy-to-balance meals
  • Contributing to your recommended daily iron intake

Watch out for...

  • Salty, fatty, processed meats
  • Too much of one food group
  • Too much fat during cooking. Meat that is fried, not grilled 

Read about Chris' fish-lover's diet and how to keep your heart healthy

Read Vijay's story and how to make the most of a vegetarian diet

Read our introduction to different diets and healthy eating

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