What? No Meat? If this is what you think when you see Meatless Monday, then you are probably not alone. Our society revolves around meat for all our meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I come from a personal training background and our education encourages a body building diet of 6 small meals with meat protein in all of them, so I can appreciate how odd the concept of no meat might be.
The most up to date scientific evidence however shows that a plant based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now this does not mean a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. What is does mean is less focus on meat and more focus on plant foods. Now I will talk about meat in another post but today I would like to share with you ‘Meatless Monday’. Meatless Monday is a not for profit initiative that is part of an international campaign to reduce meat consumption and improve personal health and health of the planet. The goal is to reduce meat consumption by 15% (equivalent to one day a week) to lessen the risk of chronic preventable illness, reduce our carbon footprint and reduce climate change
Internationally, Meatless Monday/Meat Free Monday is currently represented in over ten countries, including USA, Britain and Canada, with support from campaigners such as Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Gervais, Sir Richard Branson, Sheryl Crow and Alec Baldwin. By having at least one meatless day a week you can make a real difference in the world. The more people who join in, the bigger the impact we can have on the planet.
Here is a brief overview of the benefits to both your health and the environment listed on the “Meatless Monday” sites.
- LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
- REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%
- FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass index. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
- LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
- IMPROVE YOUR DIET. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fibre, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
- REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
- MINIMISE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
- HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
Now I started you with a couple of meatless recipes but there are hundreds. A couple of my favourites are nachos with guacamole, lentil curry and you may have seen my new favourite Kumara and Cashew Patties. There are also more recipes on these sites http://www.meatlessmonday.com/ and http://meatlessmondays-australia.com/.
Why not add it to you Motivated Monday goal. What are your favourite vegetarian recipes?