Meatless Monday – what began as a campaign to conserve meat during World War I, has steadily grown into a global movement. Today, ‘Meatless Monday’ is recognized and practiced in over 40 countries worldwide, with institutions such as schools and major restaurants promoting a plant-based diet one day a week. The goal behind Meatless Monday is to reduce meat consumption by replacing traditionally meat-based meals with a plant-based meal once per week. This is beneficial to both human health and the sustainability of our environment. How is meat consumption related to the environment and our health?
Consider this: the average North American consumes approximately double the amount of recommended meat. From a health perspective, this is concerning, as an over-consumption of meat (specifically red and processed meats) is linked to the ‘big four’ health ailments: heart disease, stroke, cancer & diabetes. Furthermore, the majority of North American’s do not consume the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables. The CDC cites inadequate fruit and vegetable intake as one of the leading risk factors for death and disability in the United States.
From an environmental perspective, the meat industry is one of the largest contributors to green house gas (GHG) emissions worldwide. Apart from switching to alternative transportation methods, eating a vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to reduce your individual carbon footprint. While a fully plant-based diet is an effective way to reduce your impact on the environment, you don’t have to commit to becoming vegetarian to make a positive impact through your diet. The beauty of ‘Meatless Monday’ is in its simplicity – limiting your meat intake to just one day per week is a manageable, yet effective place to start.
Consider the following tips to help you incorporate Meatless Monday into your weekly routine:
Don’t overthink it. With a plethora of vegetarian and vegan substitutes on the market, changing the way you eat can feel overwhelming. To start your Meatless Monday journey, begin by cooking meals that you are familiar with, and replacing meat with other protein-packed whole foods such as quinoa, beans and legumes, or eggs.
Cooking can be a relaxing form of self-care, and if you have a family, engaging children is a great way to boost creativity and teach them about the importance of healthy eating. Approach Meatless Monday with an open mind, and treat the cooking experience as a fun activity rather than a chore.
Once you’ve become more comfortable with the idea of cooking without meat, consider using Meatless Monday as an opportunity to try something new in the kitchen. Branching out from typical North American recipes to ethnic cuisines such as Thai and Greek will open a world of possibilities. By experimenting with different cuisines, you will learn how to cook flavourful meals using different spices and flavours without relying on meat.
Need some inspiration? Check out the websites below that offer hundreds of delicious and easy to prepare vegan and vegetarian options.