Hello friends! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend!
I’m popping in today to invite you all to join me in a Meatless Monday challenge through the month of February (and maybe even longer than that, if you’re up for it!). Many of you have probably heard of the Meatless Monday Movement, which is a global campaign that was launched in 2003 by The Monday Campaigns.
The overall focus of Meatless Monday is to encourage the public to cut the meat, once a week. Sounds simple enough. But why go meatless? What’s the point? Well, let me explain….
What’s the point of lowering my meat consumption?
For your health. Let’s face it: The Standard American Diet (SAD) is incredibly high in MEAT. Meat, meat, meat. While meat in and of itself is not “bad,” it’s the over-consumption of meat (especially highly processed meats) that can lead to health issues down the road. For example, meat-heavy diets have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Additionally, some studies have shown that consuming high amounts of meat can reduce your longevity (i.e. your life expectancy) and can lead to other health issues, such as digestive distress. On the OTHER hand, diet patterns that are rich in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legume, some whole-grains and limited/moderate amounts of meat have been shown to reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses and may keep you healthier overall.
For your wallet. Meat tends to be pretty expensive and can really put a damper on your budget. Cutting back, even just a little bit, may prove to be helpful for saving some dollars.
For the environment. The production of meat requires a great amount of water usage, and it also increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the air & fuel dependence. Going meatless, even just once a week, will help reduce your carbon footprint…ESPECIALLY if you keep it up for a long period of time.
What about protein?
Yes, meat is a great source of protein. Not only is it a great source, the protein in meat is highly bioavailable to your body, which means it is able to absorb it more efficiently than plant-based protein. HOWEVER, it is simply a myth that you cannot consume adequate protein on a meatless diet. There are PLENTY of plant-based foods that contain protein. The KEY is to include a variety of plant-based protein foods in your diet to ensure that you consume all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein – and 9 of them are considered “essential,” which means your body cannot make them on its own, rather you must get them from your diet. Meat contains all 9 of the essential amino acids, while most plant foods lack one or two (with the exception of quinoa, soy and buckwheat – these DO include all 9!). This is why it’s important to combine your plant proteins. (examples: rice & beans, peanut butter & whole-grain bread, hummus & crackers, etc.).
HERE is a handy-dandy list of some plant-based proteins that you can include in your diet on meatless days:
What exactly do I have to eliminate?
This depends on your preferences. Some people do Meatless Monday challenges & only decide to eliminate red meat, such as beef and pork. Others only eliminate processed meats, including bacon, sausage, deli meats and so on. Some take it to the next level by eliminating ALL meat, including beef, pork and poultry. Some avoid all of these, plus fish and eggs. It depends on where YOU are at…make the challenge your own!
Where do I start?!
You can start by downloading my Meatless Monday Meal Planner meal planner, which is a super simple guide to help you plan your Meatless Monday meals ahead of time. There’s space to write out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. You’ve got a week to plan for Monday #1, which is on February 5th. If you need recipes, I’ve got you covered with some awesome meatless recipes listed below:
Sheet Pan Meal Prep Tofu Quinoa Bowls from Fit Foodie Finds
Quinoa Tortilla Soup from The Healthy Maven
Spiralized Zucchini Mac & Cheese from The Healthy Maven
Meal-Prep Vegetarian Kung Pao Quinoa Bowls from Fit Foodie Finds
Back-Pocket Stir Fry with Noodles from Pinch of Yum
Red Pepper Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower from Pinch of Yum
Hummus Avocado Toast with Toasted Hemp Seeds from Eating Bird Food
These are just some ideas – know that there are PLENTY of vegetarian/vegan recipes that you can find with a simple Google search. PLUS – for the next several Mondays, I will be posting my own vegetarian/vegan recipes for you to try. So be sure to get on my email list (SUBSCRIBE BELOW) or follow me on social media (Facebook, Instagram) to find out when those become available.
How do I stay accountable?
The #1 way to keep yourself accountable for Meatless Monday is to plan ahead. Use your Meatless Monday Meal Planner , grocery shop based on your plan, and ask a family member or friend to join you. Additionally, I will be joining you and posting my meatless creations on Instagram to give you ideas & inspiration. Use the hashtag #FreshFitFlourishMeatlessMonday so we can all see each others delicious plant-based meals!
My point in leading a Meatless Monday Challenge is not to make people believe that meat eating meat is “bad,” because it’s not when consumed in balanced amounts. I’m simply trying to help individuals become more aware of how much meat they might be eating, and to encourage/inspire them to try new foods and get more vegetables on their plate. No, I do not follow a vegetarian or vegan diet myself, but I certainly do try to keep my meat intake to a minimum because #1) I think plant-based foods are deeeeelicious and #2) I feel my best when I don’t eat a lot of meat. This may not be the case for you, and that’s okay – you do you. I’m here to inspire & motivate…to help you find that sweet spot of balance in your eating pattern where you feel awesome & can live your best nourished life.
Who’s Going to Join Me?! Subscribe to my email list below to be the first to know about challenge updates and recipes!