Offset for Mesh?

With text, you have a really handy control called 'offset', which allows you to easily increase/decrease the size of your letters from their centres not by changing the shape proportionally but by adding/detracting from its outline, which looks like this (border remains uniform):

By contrast, when trying to scale down a mesh object using the 's' it looks like this (borders not uniform):

Is there a similar 'offset' control that allows similar for mesh objects or any other way of achieving the same result? Seems odd that such a useful tool would be exclusive to text.

• You can scale a mesh along normals (Alt+S). It may be quite difficult to scale it so faces to remain perpendicular, but still it may be a workaround – Mr Zak Aug 6 '15 at 16:02
• When I do Alt+s my object disappears and undo doesn't even get it back. I'm confused, what am I doing wrong? – marklovin Aug 6 '15 at 16:17
• @marklovin make sure you move your mouse slowly (it's an interactive feature), if your cursor speed is too fast that might be the issue, also left click to confirm. – iKlsR Aug 6 '15 at 16:22
• For me it just behaves exactly the same as if I just press 's' on its own, i.e. it just scales it proportionally.... – marklovin Aug 6 '15 at 16:31
• If instead of working with a meshes you work with curves you'll still be able to use the offset option. – cegaton Aug 7 '15 at 5:25

Depending on how good your mesh is, the inset tool can do a pretty good job of offsetting inwards with odd shaped outlines. Press I and move the mouse to adjust the amount.

Even with the messy mesh created from converting some text to mesh, only a couple of points need fixing.