Meatless Mondays: The Benefits of Reducing Meat in Your Diet

If you want to eat healthier and help the planet, the Meatless Monday campaign is for you. For nearly 20 years, this project has provided resources to help you reduce your meat consumption and improve your health.



Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash


Meatless Mondays: See What The Hype is About


Meatless Mondays is a campaign started back in 2003 by Sid Lerner in conjunction with the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Mr. Learner urged people to give up meat for just one day a week, recognizing the need to improve the diet of people worldwide while addressing the worsening climate crisis. Less meat consumption is a healthier way to live.


The longevity of the movement reflects society’s changing attitude toward a less meat-based and more plant-based diet. Embracing meatless Mondays benefits your health and also reduces greenhouse gasses. Plus, you may well save money on your grocery budget since beef, poultry and pork constitute a significant portion of America’s annual food budget. Take some time to explore exactly what meatless Mondays can mean for you and your family.


Why are Meatless Mondays Important for a Balanced Diet?


Going without meat for a single day means you will naturally up your intake of healthy foods. By sticking with a plant-based diet, you will be eating more fruits, grains, vegetables, beans and nuts, low-fat and low-calorie foods that contain healthy fiber and lots of nutrients. Sadly, the average American still consumes too much fat and red meat, which can lead to a number of health issues, including a higher risk of colon cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.


Practicing meatless Mondays can lower these risks and also encourage people to eat less meat for the rest of the week. You may be resistant to abrupt changes in your diet. While completely shifting to a plant-based diet would be the healthiest choice, you do not have to give up meat completely to make a difference in your health. Simply reducing the amount of meat you eat can make a significant difference. Also, partnering with experts can help improve your organization’s fitness level.


How Can You Incorporate Meatless Mondays into Your Weekly Meal Planning?


Once you get started with meatless Mondays, you will find planning your meals is not very different than what you were doing before. You will need to experiment with replacement proteins such as tofu, beans, whole grains, and legumes. Some people rely on items such as mushroom burgers and meatless stir-fry. Technically, you can eat eggs, low-fat cheese, and yogurt, although you will want to stay with plant-based items as much as possible to get the full benefits of the plan.


You will need to bring home more fresh produce and try new recipes, which can be time-consuming at first. Soon, however, you will discover some favorite dishes that you can prepare fairly often.


How Meatless Mondays Benefit the Planet


If Americans ate just a bit less meat each week, the planet would see huge benefits. Studies show that reducing the amount of beef, poultry, and pork Americans eat by 25% would cut about 82 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. If every American eliminated meat completely and ate plant proteins with an equivalent protein value instead, the country would save 330 metric tons of greenhouse emissions.


Meatless Mondays are not about turning you into a vegetarian. The campaign is to improve your health while making less of a negative climate impact. Beef, in particular, has a harmful effect on the climate, so simply reducing your beef consumption is helpful. Again, you do not have to eliminate beef and other meat from your diet completely, but reducing the amount you eat will protect you and the planet.


Remember that partnering with fitness professionals can improve wellness at your corporation.


The Meatless Monday Challenge


For help joining the challenge, visit the Meatless Monday webpage. There you will find delicious recipes, informative articles, and other resources that will help you join the movement. You will also discover ways to implement the challenge at work and at school if you desire.


You may find the challenge daunting at first, but once you get started, meatless Mondays will become part of your regular routine. If you are too busy to cook, you can still follow the campaign by using some of the website’s clever meal plans. For instance, you can prepare the breakfast sweet potato included on the Meatless Monday website - originally submitted by Tawnie Kroll of Kroll’s Corner.


Ingredients:

• 1 sweet potato

• 1 medium banana, sliced

• 1-2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

• 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds

• 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


Directions:

Wash and dry your sweet potato.

Poke holes in it with a fork and wrap it in a paper towel and cook in the microwave until you can stick a fork all the way through and it feels done (soft). About 8-10 minutes in the microwave.

Carefully cut the sweet potato in half and place banana slices on the sweet potato. Then drizzle the peanut butter on top, followed by the chia seeds and ground cinnamon.

You can also try meatless Monday recipes such as Buffalo Chickpea Lettuce Wrap and Burrito Bowl in a hurry. Some of the meals you currently prepare can become meatless by making a few substitutions or eliminations. A good stir fry can be just as tasty without the chicken.


Another excellent and easy recipe shared by Meatless Mondays is Navy Bean Bruschetta, originally shared by Jen of Domestic Divas:

Serves 10


Ingredients:

• 1 15 ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed

• 1 cup baby spinach, rinsed, picked through and sliced

• 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1 shallot, peeled and chopped

• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar

• salt and pepper, to taste

• 6 slices crusty whole wheat bread, cut into thick slices

• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to grill the bread

• fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

• 1/3 cup parmesan Reggiano or vegan cheese on top


Directions:

Toss the navy beans, spinach, cherry tomatoes, shallot, thyme, and olive oil together in a large bowl—season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Rub the bread with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Grill the bread for 3-5 minutes per side, or until the bread has reached the desired level of crunch.

To make the bruschetta topping, toss the ingredients together in a mixing bowl—season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Rub the bread with olive oil and garlic cloves. Grill both sides of the bread.

Spoon a generous portion of the navy bean topping on each slice of toasted bread. Top with fresh cracked black pepper and shaved parmesan Reggiano, and enjoy!


Give Meatless Mondays a Try


Trying meatless Mondays is an easy way to ease into a more plant-based diet. Americans have traditionally been meat lovers, and consumption of meat has risen in recent years after dipping briefly several decades ago. Eating too much meat can lead to serious health conditions, including a higher risk for certain cancers and heart disease. In addition, greenhouse emissions are having a terrible effect on the climate. Giving up meat for one day a week can help you and your community.