Meat is more than a food; it is a status symbol. Long ago, people in the West ate very little meat. Eating a meat dish once a week was a sign of prosperity (being rich). A king* once said, “I want there to be no farmer in my country so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” He meant that everyone will be rich. When the economy and industrialisation grew, more people could eat meat regularly (often). People were considered wealthy (rich) if they could eat meat every day.
There were many recipes for using a little meat to make a bigger meal, such as stews and hashes. The classic example is meatloaf. (A loaf is a whole piece of bread before it is cut into slices.) Meatloaf is mostly a baked mixture of bread, egg and milk. It is flavoured with some tough ground meat. Cooking meatloaf allows one to turn a little tough meat into a large dish of tender meat substitute (replacement).
During the 20th century's world wars, meat became scarce and often was rationed. After the wars, a man was thought to be a good father if he could provide meat for his family. Hong Kong is like that today. Many Hong Kong people think of a meal without meat as a sign of poverty (being poor).
Today many people in the West are turning against this past and eating meat less often, even if they can afford meat. Also so much agriculture has become focused on meat, that it is often cheaper than good fresh vegetables. The food eaten by our ancestors (or each other's ancestors) both in the East and the West may be what we need for a more healthy future.
*Henri IV of France: The quotation is of course a translation of “Je veux qu'il n'y ait si pauvre paysan en mon royaume qu'il n'ait tous les dimanches sa poule au pot.”