By Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Have you heard of the Meatless Monday campaign? I encourage you to join the movement and make Mondays meatless for you and your family. The goal of the movement is to reduce meat consumption by 15%, which is better for your health and our environment. Meatless Mondays are not about becoming vegetarian or even losing weight but rather about taking steps towards a more plant-based diet, which is better for your health and the planet.
Better for You
There are many advantages to eating a plant-based diet. I preach increasing plant foods and reducing animal foods daily to my clients, family, and friends. Our plates and bowls should be filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Plant-based diets are associated with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Plant-based diets are also higher in fiber (fiber is found only in plant foods), which helps to prevent constipation and diverticulosis.
Better for the Earth
A plant-based diet is also healthy for our planet. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates meat industry produces approximately one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions (more than gas emissions from transportation). The demand for meat is increasing (along with the portion of meat served at restaurants). Meatless Mondays is also been noted as a movement to consciously reduce the carbon footprint from meat consumption.
Saves Water, Fossil Fuels
Meatless Mondays also promote less water and fossil fuel use. Livestock require far more water than vegetables, grains, or beans. The FAO also reports livestock also require much more fossil fuel energy compared to plants. Approximately 40 calories of fossil fuel energy are required to produce each calorie of feedlot beef compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.
Monday is the day we go back to work or school and start a more structured eating plan. People on diets often slip up during the weekend and then start new on Mondays. Monday is a day similar to the month of January each year: a time to start fresh and commit to positive change. Plus Meatless and Mondays both start with “M” so Meatless Monday is catchy!
What to Eat?
Going Meatless on Monday does not have to be difficult. There are many easy ways to make your meals meatless. Try this menu:
*Breakfast can start with oatmeal and blueberries.
*Lunch can include a salad with black beans, a whole grain roll, and watermelon.
*Dinner can be soft tacos made with whole grain tortillas, brown rice, chickpeas, lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado.
Vegetarian meals can be satisfying, high fiber, adequate in protein and nutrients, healthy, and (most importantly) yummy. The Meatless Monday website comes from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It includes recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with great information on the movement.
Make the move to go Meatless on Mondays (at home, at work, and even in schools) and you will impact your health, your children’s health, and the health of the environment.
Once you taste how wonderful vegetarian meals can be, you may start eating vegetarian meals on days that don’t start with an M. Maybe you’ll have Meatless Taco Tuesday or Meatless Stir-fry Saturday or even (if you are brave enough to cook with soybean curds) Meatless Tofu Thursday. Commit today and make your next Monday Meatless!
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Unity Point-Trinity. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|