It was all the craze years ago: Meatless Monday. But is it still a thing? And does it make sense for you? That’s yes, sort of, and probably.
What is Meatless Monday?
Meatless Monday was a worldwide movement several years ago. And even though the craze has faded, there are still plenty of reasons to join in on the trend. And no, it doesn’t have to be a Monday. You can go meatless any day of the week.
Meatless Monday Health Benefits
Well, there are several benefits to a plant-based diet. Going meatless at least once a week is a good start to realizing those benefits. It’s one small step toward a healthier lifelong journey. Even one day a week could lead to significant changes in improving the health of your body.Meatless meals one day a week can lower your risks of long-term preventable diseases, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The closer you can come to following a plant-based diet, the better. Research documents the fact that people who eat red meat face an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. The same risk exists from eating processed meats. On the flip side, you’re also at risk by not eating certain foods. A lack of nuts, seeds, seafood, fruits, and vegetables is unhealthy for your body. There are multiple health benefits to eating more whole grains, beans, lentils, and vegetables on your meatless day. Increasing your intake of whole-grain, unprocessed carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, and millet, can help prevent all the issues we mentioned earlier. Vegetables are nutrient powerhouses, and they add color and texture to your meals. Try leafy greens, from kale to collards, bok choy, or broccoli, to make sure you get the calcium you need.It’s also important to note that meat can be hard to digest. Depending on your metabolism, meat and fish typically take at least two days to exit your body. Fruits and vegetables take 12-24 hours to digest. Experts point out that eating plant-based foods helps your body maintain a healthy gut. Experimenting with different grains on your meatless days can provide fiber to help with normal bowel function, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals that add to the nutrient density of your diet.
Concerned you won’t get enough protein?
Actually, Americans regularly eat more than enough protein each day. If you go meatless, a good way to ensure you have an adequate protein intake is to add beans or lentils to your meals. They provide about 16 grams of protein for each cup cooked. They’re also a great source of fiber, folate, iron, and potassium. On top of that, they’re also sources of manganese, magnesium, copper, and thiamin.
So how do you make it happen?
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with plant-based alternatives.
- Your staples include fruits and vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, beans, and legumes, along with unsalted nuts.
- You can add low-fat dairy foods if you’re not replacing all animal products.
Search for recipes that make vegetables and fruits the main course. There are specialty cookbooks available and many online sites that offer up hundreds, if not thousands, of options. You can also go to the American Heart Association for a plethora of vegetarian entrees in its recipe center online.If you struggle to go an entire day without meat, you can start by preparing a meatless dinner. However, be sure not to overindulge at breakfast or lunch.
It’s easier than ever to find meat alternatives.
The options have exploded, especially in recent years. From Portobello mushroom burgers to spaghetti squash burrito bowls, restaurants are catering more and more to the meatless crowd. Even fast food restaurants are in on the action. Here’s a list of just a few popular chains serving up meat alternatives:
- Beyond Burger at Denny’s with Seasoned Fries. …
- Del Taco: Epic Beyond Fresh Guacamole Burrito.
- TGI Friday’s Beyond Burger and fries.
- Vegan Beyond Burger and Cajun Seasoned Fries from Burger Fi.
- KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken Combo. …
- Beyond The Original Orange Chicken at Panda Express.
Once you find success going a day without meat, you may even want to consider taking the next step and becoming what’s now called a “flexitarian.” This term describes someone who eats mostly plant-based foods and occasionally eats meat, poultry and fish. It’s something very similar to the Mediterranean diet, which limits red meat and strongly favors fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats. It’s been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions. But if you’re not yet ready for that, if you can avoid meat for just one day a week, or even one meal a day, whether it’s for your health or religious reasons, it’s a small adjustment to your diet that could pay off in big ways when it comes to your health.
Easy Ways to go Meatless: