Meatless Mondays Motivation

Alex Knutte

Written by Alex Knutte | Edited by Carol Coutinho

Shifting to a more plant-based diet not only does wonders for the environment, but your health too. A plant-based diet is one consisting of little to no animal products. It focuses on whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes. I have been plant-based for a little over a year now, and my number one piece of advice to anyone who asks me how to start is participating in Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday is exactly what the name implies, not having any meat products on a given Monday. Some people try to go a whole Monday without any animal products, giving up even dairy and eggs. 

Why Meatless Monday, you ask? Turns out, there’s a ton of benefits of giving up meat for just one day a week! 

 

9 Benefits of Meatless Monday:

1: Improved Nutrition

By giving up meat for the day, you increase your whole grains and vegetable intake. These foods provide your body with essential nutrients and fiber. Research shows that people who eat the most vegetables have the lowest risk of many diseases, including cancer. Try eating a variety of different colored vegetables for the different nutrients each provides. Delicious and nutritious!
Balanced food

2: Save Money 

It’s no secret that meat is expensive. Giving up meat for a day and opting for more vegetables makes your wallet happy! A study conducted by the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found that a meat based diet “cost an extra $14.36 per week.”  That’s nearly $60 cheaper per month, and $700 per year! In the long run, giving up meat goes a long way financially.

3: Weight Managment

According to Living Healthy Works, “the more meat you eat, the more likely you will gain weight.  This is because meat is high in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Meat doesn’t give you any fiber, so you won’t feel full and that means you are more likely to overeat.” Vegetables and whole grains are naturally less in calories, and contain fiber, meaning that they will fill you up. Therefore, you can eat way more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than you can meat, and still lose weight!
Weight

4: May Reduce Risk of Diabetes

An article published in Today’s Dietitian highlighted a NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study of 500,000 men and woman which concluded that “there is a significantly higher risk of cancers of the colorectum, esophagus, lung, and liver associated with red meat intake; an increased risk of colorectal and lung cancer was associated with higher intake of processed meat; and red and processed meat intake was associated with cancer mortality.” If the other reasons to cut back on meat consumption aren’t enough, this study proved that decreasing meat intake, especially the consumption of red meat, can have a significant impact on your health.
Healthy Food Recommended for Diabetes.

5: Reduce Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emission caused by an individual, or the impact your actions have on the environment. Animal-based foods have a bigger footprint than plant-based foods as they require lots of land and water. Meat production is actually the primary source of methane emissions! Methane is a greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Reducing the amount of meat you eat, even just one day a week, has a huge impact on your carbon footprint. You can calculate your carbon footprint here
Coal mine electrical power plant contrast nature

6: Minimize Water       Usage

Did you know that meat production uses a lot of water? It is needed for watering the plants that farm animals eat and providing them with drinking water. According to Peta, it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat. It only takes 25 gallons of water to grow 1 pound of wheat. That means you can get 96 pounds of wheat for every one pound of meat! By reducing your meat consumption, you are significantly reducing the amount of water that you use.
water

7: Fight Deforestation 

Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to make room for crop land and farm land so that animals can be raised and slaughtered to meet the demand of consumer meat production. It is estimated that now 37% of land is used for agriculture. This number is growing as more forests are teared down. Reducing the amount of meat you eat will help fight deforestation.

8: Protect Wildlife and Plant Biodiversity

Because the natural habitats of wildlife and natural plants are being torn down to make room for agricultural practices, wildlife diversity is suffering. Many animals are at risk for extinction because they are losing their habitats at rapid rates and cannot adjust in time to deforestation. Animals such as the Amur leopard, black rhino, and Bornean Orangutan are the most endangered species in the world, and are at risk of excision because of deforestation.
White Rhinoceros

9: Save Animals

The dairy, meat, and chicken industries are not humane in the way that animals are used and slaughtered for human consumption. According to USA Today, “the average person will eat 7,000 animals in their lifetime. This breaks down to about 11 cows, 27 pigs, 2,400 chickens, 80 turkeys, 30 sheep and 4,500 fish.” Cutting back on your consumption of these products helps save the lives of animals.
Now that you know all the benefits of eating less meat, there are many super delicious plant-based recipes to try! My personal favorite meal is sweet potato and black bean enchiladas.  Additionally, there are many easy swaps that can be made to start eating more plant-based and less meat.
Here are some of the most delicious ways to add more veggies to your everyday meals:

1: Opt for Fajita Veggies for Taco night

A super easy way to cut back your meat consumption is to swap your ground beef or chicken tacos with veggie ones! Use bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms to spice up your taco night. Top with salsa and homemade guacamole for the perfect finish! Worried about your protein consumption? Add refried beans or black beans!

2: Ditch the eggs and chicken on your stir fry

Spice up your typical stir fry by adding new veggies! Add in baby corn, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and edamame to bring your stir fry to life! You won’t even notice the animal products are missing. My stir fry secret ingredient is pineapple. Pineapple gives this dish the perfect amount of goodness!
Vegan stir fry of mushrooms, zucchini and chickpea

3: Give Tofu a Try

Tofu is a great source of plant-based protein, and it’s delicious too! Also, tofu is very versatile and can be added to a variety of your favorite meals! Add tofu to stir frys, pastas, scrambles, and buddha bowls! Or, you can make tofu the base of your meals with recipes such as General Tso’s Tofu and Cilantro Lime grilled Tofu.

13: Say hello to Veggie Pizza 

Take meat off your pizza and swap it for vegetables! Try adding artichokes, yellow squash, mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus or brussel sprouts. Try out a recipe such as this one. Go the extra mile and make your own cheese sauce from home, plant-based of course! There are many recipes for plant-based cheese like this one.
Pizza

5: Make Sweet Potatoes your new BFF

One of my favorite foods is sweet potatoes because of their versatility. From buddha bowls to Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes, there are TONS of ways to eat these tasty root vegetables. You can even bake them into casseroles, cakes, and pies! The possibilities are endless.
baked sweet potatoes

6: Swap Chicken Wings for Cauilflower Wings

Want a healthier, plant-based alternative for your game day staple? Try out cauliflower wings! Not only are they easy to make from scratch, but you can customize your cauli wings and use whatever wing sauce is your favorite. A personal favorite of mine is buffalo cauliflower wings!
cauliflower
Are you an avid meat eater and think it’s impossible for you to give up your favorite food? There are many meat-free meat substitutes you can try.
A few Plant-Based Alternatives for your Favorite Meat Products:
  • Veggie Burgers 

Veggie Burgers can be found at every grocery store. There’s a variety of brands and kinds ranging from kale burgers to mushrooms and sweet potatoes. My personal favorite veggie burger is Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers

 

  • Beyond Burgers

Beyond burgers are the burgers that look and taste the most like real meat. Additionally, this burger substitute offers 20 grams of plant-based protein! 

 

  • Impossible Burgers 

The Impossible Burger is another great plant-based option that offers a great source of protein, calcium, and fiber! It also has 0 cholesterol, as compared with a regular burger which has almost a quarter of your daily cholesterol limit. 

 

  • Black Bean Burgers 

Black bean burgers are definitely my favorite kind of burgers out of all the different substitutes. Many restaurants are moving to having a black bean burger on their menu and they can be bought at most grocery stores as well! My favorite brand is Dr. Prager’s Black Bean Quinoa Burgers. 

  • Gardein Crispy Tofu Tenders

Enough of the burgers, this plant-based alternative to chicken tenders is a preferred choice of mine! These tofu tenders look exactly like chicken! My favorite way to eat these is in a buffalo “chicken” wrap! 

 

  • Morning Star Chicken Patties 

Giving up meat doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods! Morning Star is a plant-based brand that has lots of meat alternatives, including “chicken” patties! 

 

  • Daiya Pepperoni Pizza 

Who doesn’t love pepperoni pizza? Daiya offers a vegan pepperoni pizza, made of absolutely no animal products! Plant-based pepperoni and cheese for the win! 

 

  • Beyond Breakfast Sausage

Thought you would have to give up your favorite breakfast foods? Think again! Beyond Breakfast sausage is offered at many grocery stores, as well as at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks! 

 

  • Morning Star Beyond Bacon

 If you are a bacon lover, you’ll be happy to know that there are plant-based bacon options as well! Eggs, bacon, and toast can still be a reality for your morning, just a meat-free version! 

 

As you can see, there are tons of options available for plant-based meat alternatives. These substitutes will have you shocked that you are not eating real meat.
Here is what a Meatless Monday could look like for you:

 

 

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Oatmeal with hemp hearts and bananas 

Lunch: Tofu stir fry with all the veggies

Afternoon snack: Trail mix and an orange

Dinner: Portobello Mushroom burger with a side of sweet potato fries and corn on the cob 

 

Breakfast: Plant based sausage and toast 

Lunch: Peanut Tofu wrap and side salad 

Afternoon Snack: Apple and peanut butter 

Dinner: Vegetable pizza 

 

Breakfast: Avocado Toast 

Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Afternoon Snack: Popcorn 

Dinner: Mexican stuffed Sweet Potatoes 

 

Breakfast: Chocolate peanut butter protein shake 

Lunch: Buffalo Chickpea Wrap 

Afternoon Snack: Veggies and ranch or hummus 

Dinner: Spaghetti with a side of asparagus and a side salad 

CLOSING WORDS:

There are so many benefits of taking a day a week to refrain from eating meat. Not only is it better for your health, the planet, and animals, but it can be tasty too! There are so many great plant-based recipes out there that won’t have you missing meat. But, in case you do, there are plenty of “fake meats” as well! If everyone in the United States did Meatless Mondays for just one year, an average of 3.5 animals per person would be saved, according to Counting Animals. Multiply that by the population of the US and 1.4 billion animals would be spared annually! So, what’s holding you back from Meatless Monday?

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