Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t complicated. But it does require a serious commitment.
Some have gladly embraced the vegetarian lifestyle, while others struggle to resist the temptation to make meat the cornerstone of most meals. But the middle ground so many dieters have searched for may be found in a growing nutritional trend– meatless Mondays.
Meatless Monday is one of many “Monday Campaigns,” a non-profit series of initiatives associated with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Others include “Move it Monday,” which encourages participants to begin their week with 2.5 hours of physical activity, and “Man Up Monday,” which calls on young men to take action to prevent the spread of STDs.
The concept behind Meatless Monday is simple: pick one day of the week (Monday is ideal) and go the entire day without eating meat. The idea may be elementary, but the results are evident. Meatless Monday celebrates the perks of following a vegetarian lifestyle and its enormously positive impact on the environment. While you might be hesitant to give up meat entirely, you can still take advantage of the improvements of going vegetarian once weekly.
Monday is the best day for going vegetarian for a number of reasons. Unhealthy weekend habits such as poor diet and exercise are easier to break at the beginning of the week. Repetitions leads to success. And a weekly reminder to improve your dietary choices can set a positive precedent for the rest of the week.
Participating in Meatless Monday every week can help you:
- Limit cancer risk. Research suggests that diets high in fruits and vegetables lower your risk of cancer. Red meat has also been linked to colon cancer.
- Fight diabetes. High consumption of red meat increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is especially true of highly processed meat, which tends to be higher in sodium.
- Curb obesity. Consumers who eat mostly fruits and vegetables weight less and have a lower body mass index. A recent study found that reducing overall meat consumption could prevent long-term weight gain.
- Live longer. Red and processed meat is associated with total mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease mortality.
- Reduce heart disease. Research shows that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (such as meat) with food rich in polyunsaturated (such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds).
Try to utilizing legumes, which includes beans, peas, lentils and peanuts, in your Meatless Monday. Beans in particular are one of the cheapest and most versatile foods on the market, as the recipes and variations are essentially endless. Beans contain a wealth of plant-based proteins, fiber and other essential nutrients.
Buying healthy foods in bulk is an effective way to save time and money and assure that your pantry is stocked with nutritionally-dense foods. Non-perishable foods like oats, grains and the aforementioned legumes can be bought cheaply in bulk and stored away for future meals. Try shopping in the frozen foods section of your supermarket for bulk frozen vegetables, which are equally as tasty and nutritious as their rawer counterparts.
Investing in freezer-safe food storage containers can help you plan ahead for your Meatless Monday meals. Try making time in the morning to prepare your meals for the entire day and dividing them into containers. Cutting and rationing raw fruits and vegetables into serving-size containers is an appetizing way to maintain sensible portions and assure you’ll stick to your dietary target. Keeping healthy foods accessible also helps to remove the temptation to indulge in less nutritionally-dense foods.
If you want to make a lasting change to your diet but don’t know where to begin, you’re in luck. Helpful facts and guidelines to help the nutritionally and environmentally-conscious adjust their dietary habits are ubiquitous in print and online. Organizations such as The Humane Society maintain extensive lists of easy-to-prepare vegetarian meals such as: mango and avocado salad, Thai red curry and black bean chipotle burgers.
Staying focused and motivated on your wellness goals isn’t always easy. But incorporating Meatless Monday into your lifestyle is a feasible way to reduce your meat consumption and promote a healthier diet that will have a positive ripple effect on the remaining six days of the week.