If you’re like most people, you probably scarf back two or three servings of meat each day. And why shouldn’t you? It’s delicious, it’s convenient and it’s what you want.
But what if I told you that banishing the bacon just one day a week would improve your health, your planet and your pocketbook?
It might seem extreme to transform your dinner plate, even for a 24-hour period. But hear me out. If you aren’t convinced after this, you can ignore all of my Meatless Monday posts until the cows come home.
The Meat of the Matter
- Exhibit A: Your Health
You hear stories about vegetarians wasting away—you may even be worried about the health impacts of telling your steak to “stuff it.” It’s true there are many important nutrients in meat—protein, B-vitamins and iron just to name a few. But when it comes to eating meat, we’re often having too much of a good thing.
Get this: decreasing our meat consumption could reduce global mortality by up to 10%. That’s because high-meat diets (especially those low in vegetables and fruits) are associated with increased risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
On the other side of the coin, well-planned vegetarian diets can meet all of your nutrition needs. They also provide exceptional amounts of fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Vegetarians also tend to weigh less than non-vegetarians, have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer.
- Exhibit B: Your Planet
What’s so bad about that, you ask? Well, if you care about our planet, that’s a big deal. Meat production accounts for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions—making it a huge driver of climate change. On top of that, meat production eats up massive amounts of the world’s fresh water, arable land and fossil fuels.
The hard truth is our meat-heavy diets just aren’t environmentally sustainable, as much as we want them to be. Not everyone can fork out the funds for a new Prius, but we can all afford to leave out the lamb from time to time. That alone makes a big difference in your carbon footprint.
- Exhibit C: Your Pocketbook
If the health of your family and the planet aren’t enough to change your meat-loving mind, perhaps a beefier bank account will do the trick.
Chucking the chicken doesn’t just add years to your life; it also helps pay for those years. Sure, that steak looks tempting but while a four-ounce sirloin will cost you around $6, a can of beans is maybe $.50. You actually save over $5 every time you make the swap!
And those small amounts add up to a big chunk of change over time. A recent study showed a vegetarian’s annual grocery bill is at least $750 cheaper than a meat-eater’s. I bet those lentils look a bit more appetizing now, no?
Meat in the Middle
Over the last few years, many people have taken meat completely off their menu. But that move isn’t for everyone.
Luckily, when it comes to your diet, it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. Whether it’s a meal a day or every meal for the rest of your life, the benefits of eating less meat still exist.
That’s why I bring you a humble pitch to give Meatless Mondays a try. I love this plan because it doesn’t ask you to go cold turkey on meat. Instead it simply challenges you to rethink your food choices just one day a week. Choosing plant-based proteins over meat might not seem like much, but small changes can go a really long way.
Changing how we eat takes time so there’s no need to master it all on the first day. It is as simple as swapping the ground beef for more beans in your chili or choosing a vegetarian pizza instead of your usual meat lovers. Trust me, with each bite of plant-based deliciousness, cooking up that first chunk of tofu becomes far less daunting.
Want to give it a shot but still not sure where to start? That’s why I’m launching a series all about Meatless Monday. Each month I’ll be serving up information, recipes and tips to make it easy to add meatless meals to your menu. In the meantime, make sure to check out meatlessmonday.com or search #meatlessmonday for more about the movement and why so many people are already on board.
Until next time, have fun vegging out!