Meatless Mondays: Why & how

There’s a campaign heating up in the U.S. and Canada to give up eating meat one day a week.

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 [2009].
  • 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.

Image of factory farming of pigs from Compassionate Action for Animals @ www.exploreveg.org

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.

More information

Meatless Mondays US

Meatless Monday Canada

Savvy Vegetarian

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Madeleine Kolb 07/15/2010, 8:32 pm

    Lynn, Thanks so much for coming by. I think there are a lot of us who aren’t quite vegetarians but don’t eat much meat at all. I love the idea of Meatless Monday and learned after I posted this that is is observed not only in the U.S. and Canada but also in other countries.

  • Lynn Fang 07/15/2010, 6:54 pm

    Hi Madeleine, Great post. I stumbled on your blog via Powered by Intuition. I’ve been an almost vegetarian now for 2 years, with the occasional fish or chicken dish. I think Meatless Mondays are an awesome idea. Thanks for spreading the word! xoxo
    .-= Lynn Fang´s last blog ..A Simple Guide to Enhancing Presence =-.

  • Madeleine Kolb 06/09/2010, 9:13 pm

    Angela, I eat a lot of chicken also, and, as you say, most chicken comes from factory farms, so it’s no better to eat chicken than to eat beef. Michael Pollan discusses this in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. However, Meatless Monday is a step in the right direction.

  • Madeleine Kolb 06/08/2010, 9:13 am

    Courtney, Thank you for your comment. I still eat fish, but it’s getting very hard to find some which was not raised in an artificial environment. In some of the super markets, even the salmon has this pale unnatural color from its farm-food diet. I’ve noticed this much more since I moved to the east coast from Seattle.

    I’m not ready to give up lobster, though. Since it’s not found in the Pacific, I haven’t had any for years.
    .-= Madeleine Kolb´s last blog ..Meatless Mondays: Why & How =-.

  • Courtney Carver 06/07/2010, 6:29 pm

    I dropped all beef, pork and chicken in the Fall of 2006 for health reasons and then fish/seafood in 2009 (it was hard to let go of Lobster!). While health was my motivation to quit eating meat, compassion is why I maintained the change. Factory farming is really horrible. I don’t miss eating animals and I don’t have to work any harder to maintain healthy protein and iron levels.
    .-= Courtney Carver´s last blog ..3 Biggest Lifestyle Myths and Solutions to Start Really Living Today. =-.

  • Madeleine Kolb 06/07/2010, 9:48 am

    @Anastasiya, Thank you for your comment. A smoked salmon and spinach sandwich on whole wheat bread sounds terrific.

    I think it’s wonderful that you and your husband are raising your children with such healthful food. They will not grow up thinking that dinner is not dinner without a huge slab of meat on the table. Of course, the test will come when they get a bit older and want to go out for chicken nuggets like all the other kids.
    .-= Madeleine Kolb´s last blog ..Meatless Mondays: Why & How =-.

  • Anastasiya 06/06/2010, 10:55 pm

    Madeleine, I liked the idea of meatless Monday. I do not have any vegetarian day set aside but my husband and I practice having meatless days at least 4 times a week. We are not vegetarians but we eat mostly seafood instead of meat. My favorite lunch meal is Miso Soup and a smoked salmon and spinach sandwich on whole wheat bread.
    .-= Anastasiya´s last blog ..Which Pair of Glasses Are You Wearing Today? (and is optimism always the best path?) =-.

  • Angela Artemis 06/06/2010, 4:49 pm

    Madeleine,
    I think meatless Mondays are a fantastic idea who’s time has come! I hate the thought of animals being raised so inhumanely just so we can fatten them up fast for the kill. And, as you mentioned in your post the environmental impact of these practices is appalling.

    I don’t eat much red meat but I do eat a lot of chicken. Chicken is raised in these huge factory farms as well, so it’s no better.

    Thank you for making us aware of this important initiative.
    .-= Angela Artemis´s last blog ..Would Your Rather Have a Big House Or A Big Life? =-.