So by now you may or may not have heard about “Meatless Mondays” and perhaps you were wondering what it was all about or thought “is this something I should be doing?”.
Meatless Monday is a movement created to get people thinking about one day per week as completely free of animal products; this means no meat, no dairy, no eggs. According to the USDA, the average American consumes around 190 pounds of meat and 630 pounds of milk, cheese, yogurt and ice-cream per year. This is along with the fact that most Americans also do not meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
So why should you give up meat one day per week? Well, there are many reasons! First, increased meat and dairy consumption is linked to increased risk for many diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Not only is plant-based better for your health but it is also better for the environment. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), meat production accounts for 10-40% more greenhouse emissions compared to vegetable and grain production.
So where do I begin?? If you have never thought about being plant-based it may seem overwhelming at first, but with just a little bit of planning it can easily be accomplished. While going 100% plant based is not realistic for many people, even making small movements in that direction can have a significant impact on your health and the environment. Meatless Monday is a great way to make that first step.
How do I get my protein?
Most people think of protein in terms of meat but there are many plant based protein options. Foods such as tofu, tempeh, whole grains, beans, nuts, spinach, broccoli, lentils and peas all contain protein. Perhaps instead of the typical taco night made with ground beef or chicken you could choose black beans and sautéed peppers. Instead of your bacon and egg breakfast sandwich, try a plain oatmeal with chopped almonds, fresh blueberries and a splash if maple syrup.
Also, make this a family affair. Get the kids involved in picking a vegetarian recipe, going to the grocery store and even preparing the meal itself. This not only gets kids more excited about trying something new, but Is also a great bonding time for the family.
Even if a whole day of the week with no meat is too much as first, just having a vegetarian dinner is still a great first step towards better health. If you would like more information on better health through food, please contact Full Circle Community Wellness Registered Dietitian Katie Gantt at katieRD@fullcirclewnc.org or 828-393-0069. Until then, happy eating!