I’m a proponent of ‘the little things make a big difference’. When it comes to nutrition and food, I love the idea of Meatless Monday. It’s a motivational campaign that promotes the reduction of meat not only for our personal health, but also for the health of our planet.
Before writing this post I did a little research on the history of Meatless Monday. The idea actually originated during World War I, when the U.S. Food Administration encouraged Americans to aid the war effort by reducing consumption of certain foods. Among campaigns there was “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday”. Astonishingly, more than 13 million families signed a pledge for both campaigns!
In 2003, Meatless Monday was reintroduced by a man named Sid Learner in collaboration with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Rather than aid war efforts, the present Meatless Monday campaign encourages chronic disease prevention and health promotion by reducing weekly meat consumption. Individual consumption of red meat and poultry was estimated to reach record highs in 2018. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average consumer was expected to eat 222.4 pounds in one year.
Why should we be concerned with the growing consumption of meat? Among numerous reasons, there’s strong scientific evidence that links excess meat consumption to increased risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Whereas diets high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds are shown to prevent these diseases and promote optimal health.
If you’re interested in eating more plant-based, Meatless Monday is a great way to start! To make the transition a little easier, here are my top five tips:
Don’t skip breakfast.
I suggest eating breakfast simply because it’s an awesome way to start off the day. A great option is oatmeal with fruit (such as berries and banana) and some nuts or seeds (such as walnuts, flax meal, hemp or pumpkin seeds). The complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and natural sweetness will sustain your energy levels throughout the morning and afternoon.
Tip: for extra creamy oats, make them on the stovetop with plant milk. I used 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 1/2 water.
If you’re hungry, eat more food.
Most plant-based foods are calorically less dense compared to what you might be used to. Caloric density is a measure of how many calories are in a given weight of food. This might mean you go back for seconds (or thirds!). Listen to your body and eat until you’re content.
By exchanging plant foods (such as beans, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables) for meat, your fiber intake is subsequently going to increase. When first transitioning to a plant-based diet, some people complain of digestive issues (such as bloating or constipation). Water plays a key role in the digestion of fibrous foods. Keep in mind the recommended daily amount of fiber for females is 25 grams and 38 grams for males.
Most ethnic cuisines are plant-based.
Salads and smoothies are great, but they aren’t the only plant-based options. The possibilities are endless! I love Thai (pad Thai is so good—ask for tofu instead of egg and no fish sauce) Mediterranean (hello falafel, tabbouleh and hummus!), Mexican (bean burritos or veggie tacos), and Indian food (delicious curry and dal).
Plan to have dinner with friends or family.
If you couldn’t tell by the name of my blog, I’m a huge advocate for eating food with friends. Especially if you’re trying something new like Meatless Mondays— surround yourself with people who share similar enthusiasm! This way you also have something to look forward to at the end of the day.