Maybe you’ve heard of Meatless Monday before….there’s been lots of talk about it. I know you have heard of it if you follow my blog, Facebook or Twitter. But do you know what it’s about and why it has become so popular?
Meatless Monday is an international initiative that encourages people to avoid eating meat on Monday. The purpose of not eating meat is to help improve people’s health and the health of the environment. I’m all for improving my health and that of the environment….but how can this be done by simply not eating meat one day a week? Really, it’s quite easy, and every little thing adds up, both concerning our health and the planet’s. Here are a few of the benefits of reducing meat consumption:
Health benefits of Meatless Monday:
- Cancer risk: Studies show that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Red and processed meat consumption have been linked to colon cancer.
- Reduce heart disease: Replacing saturated fat-rich foods with foods rich in polyunsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%. That’s a pretty significant decrease!
- Fight diabetes: Higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Curb obesity: People of low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. Reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
- Improve your diet: Consuming beans results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
- Reduce your carbon footprint: It is estimated that the meat industry generates about 20% of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are leading to climate changes worldwide (this percentage is far more than from transportation). Decreasing meat consumption, even just one day a week, can help slow this trend.
- Minimize water usage: Watering livestock uses far more water than is used to grow vegetables. One pound of beef requires approximately 1,800 – 2,500 gallons of water!
- Help reduce fossil fuel dependence: An average of about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Reducing meat consumption is an easy way to cut fossil fuel demand.
Why Meatless Monday? Monday is the day of the week that most people make changes in their lives – start diets, quit smoking, etc. Going meatless one day a week, regardless of the day, can significantly benefit your health and the environment so it’s really not important if it’s Monday, or Thursday, or Saturday. Twice a week without consuming meat can make an even bigger difference.
What should you eat instead? Replacing meat with a plant-based food is easy to do. Beans are an excellent replacement as they are high in protein and fiber and are very filling. One of my family’s regular meatless meals is Red Beans and Rice. Even before we technically participated in Meatless Mondays, we frequently had this on Monday because it was perfect to put in the slow cooker and have it ready when we got home. Not to mention that it’s extremely budget-friendly! Two more of my personal favorites are Quinoa and sautéed Vegetables and Spaghetti Squash. There are tons of meatless recipes out there so be adventurous and try something new!
Do you serve meatless meals at your house? How often? What do you eat instead of meat?
Will you join my family in committing to Meatless Monday?