Meatless Mondays

By Hannah Doerr – Gleaners Nutrition Education Team

Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the health of the planet. Implementing Meatless Mondays into your week can be a great way to reduce meat consumption while introducing a variety of new foods! Including more plant-based foods in our diet can help reduce the occurrence of chronic preventable diseases.

               The idea of Meatless Mondays actually started during World War I when the U.S. Food Administration began urging families to reduce the consumption of staple foods like meat to save resources. During World War II the idea was re-introduced so more rations could be saved for the troops. Today, Meatless Mondays is used as a public health awareness campaign that addresses the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption.

Here are some ways to start incorporating Meatless Mondays into your week:

  1. Make meals that remind you of meat dishes. For example, making a roast with a head of cauliflower instead of pork, or substituting refried beans for beef in your tacos.
  2. Substitute ingredients in your comfort foods. For example, you can make a shepherd’s pie using lentils instead of ground beef, or tofu instead of chicken in a stir-fry.
  3. Try a plant-based dish at your favorite restaurant. Many restaurants have been adding quite a few plant-based dishes to choose from, so try something new!

There are a wide range of benefits to starting Meatless Mondays. First, eating less meat and more plant-based foods, such as vegetables, beans, and nuts can improve heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Skipping even half a serving of meat every day and replacing it with plant proteins (like beans or tofu) can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Also, cutting back on red and processed meat and eating more plant-based foods can promote kidney health.

Meatless Mondays can also be good for our planet! Reducing the consumption of meat can help contain the production of greenhouse gases that impact climate change. It can also help decrease the demand for important environmental resources like land, water, and energy.

               A good reminder is that implementing more meatless dishes into your week doesn’t just have to be on Monday! While research suggests that most people are more open to trying healthier behaviors at the start of the week, you can pick whichever day works best for you.