Photo: Richard Jung
Burma: They use meat as a side dish.
In many Asian countries, meat is a small part of a meal. This is often due to economics: Meat represents prosperity, says Naomi Duguid, a de facto culinary anthropologist and co-author of six books on food and travel. This used to be the case in our country, but as we've become more prosperous over the past century, she says, "meat has become an entitlement instead of a treat." Americans consumed about 166 pounds of meat per person in 2012, estimates the USDA. By returning to smaller portions of beef and pork, we can cut fat, cholesterol and calories. In her book Burma: Rivers of Flavor, Duguid includes recipes like this one, which is a stir-fry loaded with vegetables and topped with a bit of pork. She says that in a typical Burmese meal, this dish would be accompanied by broth as well as plates of raw and cooked vegetables, which serve as a palate refresher—as well as being a sneakily low-calorie way to fill up.