Exploring Red Meat Alternatives

Swap high-fat red meats for these 5 alternative sources.

Trying to cut back on high-fat cuts of red meat? Nowadays, there are more choices than ever. These animal protein alternatives are turning up on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves -- find out what they’re all about.

Bison

Now available in supermarkets across the country, bison is unofficially the most popular red meat alternative to beef. It’s known for its mild flavor and super-low fat and cholesterol content. A 3-ounce portion of cooked beef (trimmed) contains about 9 grams of fat; you’ll see below that bison is much, much leaner.

Nutrition Facts (3 ounces cooked): 122 calories, 2 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Prep Ideas: Grilled steaks and burgers, chili and tacos

Ostrich

With a similar flavor to beef, only less oily, ostrich is the up-and-comer in the world of red meat alternatives. It also contains almost 90 percent of the daily requirement for vitamin B-12. Since it’s very lean, be careful not to overcook the meat as it can become chewy and tough.

Nutrition Facts (3 ounces cooked): 130 calories, 3 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Prep Ideas: Kebabs, meatballs and sliders (small burgers)

Elk

Low in fat and incredibly flavorful, elk is the most gamey tasting meat on this list. It’s also a little harder to find in stores but is available via online mail-order.

Nutrition Facts (3 ounces cooked): 141 calories, 3 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Prep Ideas: Roasts (loin cuts), sausage and jerky
Venison

Venison is lowest in fat, highest in iron and a plentiful source of selenium (a potent mineral and antioxidant). With a rich and distinct flavor, it is still mild enough to use as a substitute for beef  in your favorite recipes.

Nutrition Facts (3 ounces cooked): 127 calories, 2 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Prep Ideas: Grilled steaks, jerky, chili and fajitas

Goat

Enjoyed throughout the world, Americans don’t really fancy this red meat alternative. An excellent source of protein and the mineral zinc, goat is similar to lamb (only lower in fat) and can be used in recipes that typically call for lamb. It has a strong flavor that stands up to bold spices like curry.

Nutrition Facts (3-ounces cooked): 122 calories, 3 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat

Prep Ideas: Stews and curry
Recipe: Curry Goat

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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