(GoHealthier.com) – Many of us wish we could eat healthier and reduce our meat consumption, but going fully vegetarian might be too difficult for some people to stick with long-term. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Why not start small?
Meatless Mondays, a trend that’s been growing in popularity in recent decades, might seem like a tiny step, but it can have a wide range of impacts. Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits.
What Is Meatless Monday?
Meatless Monday is one of six programs in The Monday Campaigns, a joint endeavor between Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Syracuse Universities to help people improve their lives. Borrowed from a WWI conservation practice, the campaign began in 2003 as part of a worldwide health effort to reduce meat consumption.
The idea is simple: Commit to going meatless for one day every week. Experts believe Monday is the best day to make the switch because we tend to be the most primed for positive change at the beginning of the week. It also allows us to get our bodies back on track after the weekends, when we may be more likely to splurge on unhealthy foods or alcohol.
Reaping the Health Benefits
US consumers eat an average of three times more meat than people in other regions of the world, which creates an added risk for cancer and numerous chronic diseases. Replacing even some of the meat we eat with plant-based proteins can reduce heart disease risks and type 2 diabetes, help with weight loss and improve kidney health. Improved health also means less money spent on healthcare and medications.
Other Positive Effects
Reducing our meat intake can also be good for the wallet. According to Healthline, people who replace their proteins with sensible alternatives like bulk beans and rice can save about $750 a year — that’s almost $14.50 right back into our pockets each week if we go meatless just once.
Subscribing to Meatless Mondays has positive environmental impacts as well. Livestock production consumes 75% of our farmland. Even more, the production of just one quarter-pound, all-beef hamburger requires:
- About 425 gallons of water
- The amount of energy it takes to keep an iPhone charged for six months
- The release of greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of a car driving about 6.69 miles
According to Today’s Dietician, every meal we go meatless, we’ve used about 18 times fewer fossil fuels to produce our food.
Implementing Meatless Mondays
Participating in Meatless Mondays doesn’t have to mean feeling deprived one day out of each week. Rice and beans are versatile and, together, provide a complete protein source, making burritos and similar foods easy and healthy choices. Try loaded nachos minus the meat or slow-cook a vegetarian chili and serve over rice.
Soy products like tofu are also good choices, but they can be hit-or-miss with people who are used to having meat — and processed vegetable protein made to emulate real meat can be expensive. Lentils, chickpeas, peanuts/peanut butter, almonds and quinoa are other great alternative sources of protein that can be incorporated into all kinds of delicious recipes. And don’t forget about animal byproducts; eggs and dairy can still be enjoyed on Meatless Mondays.
Just one day a week could make a difference in participants’ health, budgets and the environment. It’s a small commitment for such a big impact. Why not give it a try this coming Monday and see what comes of it?
~Here’s to a Healthier Life!
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