Have you ever considered adding more plant-based meals to your diet? Meatless Monday may be the perfect place to start. The idea of skipping meat once a week was originally introduced during World War I when there was a scarcity of food as a way for those on the home front to reduce food consumption and aid the war effort. Meatless Monday was then revived in 2003 as a campaign that encourages us to skip eating meat one day a week and opt for plant-based options for our health and for the health of the planet. This video will teach you more about the history of Meatless Monday.
This movement is continuously growing and has roots in over forty countries and adaptations in twenty-two different languages. People continue to find innovative ways to incorporate meatless dishes into their everyday culture, customs, and cuisine. Although eating meatless meals can be done any day, research suggests that people are more open to making positive changes at the beginning of the week. Regardless of how many plant-based meals you are ready to commit to or when you consume them, you will be helping the environment and supporting your own health. Let’s take a look at the undeniable benefits.
Helping Our Environment
Greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming and climate change. The production of livestock produces more greenhouse gasses than the world’s entire transportation sector which comprises cars, trucks, planes, and trains. This is because cattle produce the greenhouse gas methane as part of their normal digestive process, which is then released into the environment. To put this into perspective, producing one quarter pound of beef is associated with the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as driving a car seven miles or charging a smartphone for six months. It may not seem like reducing your meat consumption can make a huge difference, but skipping meat one day a week can reduce your annual carbon footprint by as much as not driving your car for a whole month!
Additionally, the production of livestock demands a lot of our resources:
Almost a third of all land on earth is used for livestock production
To create room for grazing cattle, an area of rainforest the size of a hundred soccer fields is cut down every hour
It can take up to 12 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef
It takes 1,850 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef vs 39 gallons for a pound of vegetables
Not ready to commit to a whole day of plant-based meals? That’s alright, you can still save 133 gallons of water with just one meatless meal!
Supporting Our Health
Meatless meals typically incorporate foods such as beans, lentils, vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts. These are fiber rich foods that are full of vitamins and minerals which supports our immune system, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves gut health, reduces inflammation, among other benefits. Additionally, reducing your consumption of meat decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and many cancers. An added bonus is you may be able to reduce your grocery bill by a minimum of four dollars by participating in Meatless Monday!
Ready to Get Started?
Here are some beginner tips:
● Make a meal plan in advance
● Check out plant-based recipes online
● Swap meat for plant-based proteins
● Get your family and friends involved
● Start slow and add more plant-based meals throughout the week
Need inspiration? Here are 41 easy plant-based recipes.
Written by: Jaclyn Klayman, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern