The “Washington Post” described Meatless Monday as “a movement backed by a broad array of pubic health advocates, animal welfare activists and environmentalists that asks carnivores to give up meat one day a week.”
And it’s already picked up some momentum. According to the Post:
- Baltimore City Public Schools launched meatless Mondays for its 82,00 students in October .
- Thirty-two U.S. hospitals have signed on to the Balanced Menu Challenge, a commitment to reduce meat purchases by 20 percent, and
- The state of Michigan held a one-day Meatout during which residents were encouraged not to eat meat.
And as the momentum picks up, resistance increases from the meat industry, including the American Meat Institute, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, The National Pork Board, and the Farm Bureau. An immediate concern of the industry groups are the new dietary guidelines to be released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this fall.
All meat is protein, but not all protein is meat
Other sources are dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. Protein is made up of amino acids. Of the 20 amino acids we need, our bodies make only ten. The others—which the body can’t make—we get from our diet. They’re called “essential amino acids” (and include one which is required by children but not adults).
Meat provides all the essential amino acids, and thus is a complete protein. Other complete proteins are dairy products, soy, and soybeans.
All other protein sources—fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds—are incomplete. They supply some of the essential amino acids but not all of them. Vegetarians (who eat no meat) or vegans (who eat no meat or dairy products) need to eat a variety of protein sources to get enough protein.
Why Meatless Monday is a good idea
It addresses concerns about the environmental impacts and ethics of factory farming—raising animals in confined animal feeding operations.
And Meatless Mondays are good for your health. One problem with meat is that it comes with fat, particularly unhealthful saturated fat.
Eating significant amounts of medium-fat meats, such as most beef, pork, lamb, or veal) or high-fat meats (such as pork spareribs, pork sausage, or bacon) puts a person at risk for cardiovascular disease.
So over the years, I’ve given up spareribs, pork sausage, hot dogs, pepperoni and other processed meats and all beef products.
You can get all the protein you need but much less fat by eating less meat, especially less fatty meat. You can substitute dairy products for meat, but they also contain fat, including saturated fat.
Fortunately, these days most dairy products are available in tasty reduced-fat or low-fat or no-fat versions. I draw the line, though, at low-fat cheese. I love cheese—grilled cheese sandwiches, home-made macaroni and cheese (not the disgusting stuff that comes in a blue box), and cheese on a plate with apples or pears. Yummm! But I’d rather eat no cheese than no-fat cheese.
What to eat instead of meat
Meatless Monday doesn’t have to be grim or tasteless or drab or disgusting or weird. Some of the best meals I cook have no meat, and they’re absolutely delicious. Like the Almost Mom’s Quick Chili with Pineapple Corn Muffins I served my BF one time .
I think of it this way: Substitute, don’t sacrifice! If going meatless for a day or more makes you feel disgruntled and deprived, you’re not doing it right.
If you skip bacon or sausage, a meatless breakfast is easy. Just eat what you usually eat, such as:
- Eggs and toast
- Oatmeal, low-fat milk, and fruit, or
- Pancakes, low-fat cottage cheese, and fruit
Lunch can be challenging, depending on whether you eat at home or at the office or you go out. Some possibilities:
- Peanut-butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, a small green salad, and fruit—good for when you bring your lunch to work,
- Lentil or bean soup, whole-wheat bread, and fruit or
- A veggie wrap and salad
And for dinner a terrific salad and one of these main courses:
- A mixed veggie souffle
- Macaroni ‘n cheese
- Burritos or tostadas with rice and beans
- Whole-wheat pasta with marina sauce
If you absolutely can’t think of a good meatless main course, think of something you really like that has meat and Goggle the vegetarian version, for example, “vegetarian chili ” or “vegetarian stroganoff”.
Whether you’re already a vegetarian or a vegan or just thinking about cutting back on meat, I’d love to have your comments, questions, and suggestions.