Why You Should Go Meatless This Monday!
Updated: Feb 10
As evident from the catchy title given to this dietary fad, Meatless Monday suggests taking one day per week (Monday) to eat only vegetarian (meatless) meals. This idea may take some convincing for some, as a meat loving friend of mine recently pointed out that 'Monday is already miserable enough', but understanding some of the motives behind this movement may sway these skeptics towards trying some new meals. The first reason you may consider introducing meatless Mondays to your household is to decrease your environmental impact. Predominant industrial farming practices can have a serious effect on land quality, global warming through fossil fuel emissions, deforestation and water pollution. If you are interested in environmentally conscious eating the remainder of the week with regards to meals with meat, you may want to connect with a local farmer who practices sustainable, small farming techniques as a source of meat if possible. We are lucky here in Southern Ontario to be surrounded by these resources and opportunities to connect with our farming community - so try and take advantage of them! The second, and possibly more convincing reason to go meatless one day per week is for your health. Research has now shown that an increased consumption of meat, especially red or processed meats, can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (1). Although this is an important consideration for everyone, looking at your individual family history, your exercise levels, your exposure to cigarette smoke, and your body weight can indicated your overall need to preventative measures. Plant based foods also contain higher levels of fiber and phytonutrients, which can provide additional protection against heart conditions and certain types of cancer. One concern I often hear from patients when they consider going meatless is wether they will get enough protein from their meals. Although eating a long-term vegetarian diet may take some careful planning and food combining to get all your essential amino acids, it is certainly not a concern for just one day! While you can easily get your daily protein requirement (~50 for those of us with low to moderate activity levels) from an 8oz piece of red meat, there are lots of other plant based food with high protein content. For example, most beans boast about 7g per ½ cup cooked, so try cooking them up in a chilli or a bean based taco. Tofu offers about the same amount, and is easily added to a stir fry! Try the medium or firm version of tofu if you are a first time buyer. Lentils offer about 9g for ½ cup, and are found in lots of delicious Indian dishes. Even if you don't quite meet your protein mark for the day, it will certainly not impact your overall health. Its not about going extreme changes or going vegetarian completely, but this little change one day per week might have a large impact on your health and environment. Why not look up some delicious recipes and challenge yourself to try Meatless Monday this week! - Dr. Sarah Penney, ND, MSc
As originally written for Ace Nutrients
1. Feskens E.J. et al. Meat consumption, diabetes and its complications. Curr Diab Rep. 2013; 13(2):289-306
2. Image credit: appleadayweekly.wordpress.com