Make It A Meatless Monday

by in Food News, Healthy Tips, May 11, 2009

Soba Noodles
Today, skip the meat course and amp up your veggie servings in honor of Meatless Monday. Don’t worry — this isn’t a campaign to make you go veg, but more a way to promote better foods that help prevent the big 4: heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Better still, ditching meat once a week reduces your costs at the checkout.

What is Meatless Monday?
This national campaign was crafted to help us put more fruits, veggies and whole grains back in our diet. In 2003, the each person in the U.S. was eating 222 pounds of meat per year — almost double the recommendations. Unfortunately, too much meat increases your saturated fat and cholesterol intake, which, in turn, increases the risk of many diseases.

About 22% of Americans get the recommended 5 to 9 fruits and vegetable servings per day, but it’s typically starchy corn or potatoes day after day — not an assortment of brightly colored veggies. By lowering your meat intake once a week, you can also reduce your diet’s environmental impact (animal-based foods take more resources to create).

The Guidelines
To start, the guidelines say that less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat and 300 mg or less from cholesterol. To stick to that, you wouldn’t want red meat, pork, chicken, turkey and any high-fat dairy (whole milk or cheese) on your Monday menu. Limit eggs to 1 per day. This isn’t a no-protein initiative though; fish and seafood high in omega-3 fats — such as tuna and salmon — are encouraged since they help lower cholesterol. Low-fat dairy such as 1% or fat-free milk, low fat cheese or yogurt are also good.

Balancing Your Proteins
Remember, protein is found in plant foods too — you just need to know where to get it. Beans, peas, lentils and whole grains contain protein. Combining foods such as rice and beans produces the same protein quality as a piece of chicken — just without all the cholesterol and saturated fat. Like I just said above, fish is another great protein to put on your plate.

A Month of Meatless Mondays
Maybe you’re not ready to go whole-hog (okay, that phrase doesn’t work here) but try it for a month. Here are 4 balanced menus of all-day meatless eating:

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Comments (61)

  1. Chris Elam says:

    Hi Toby, it’s Chris Elam, editor of MeatlessMonday. Wanted to say Hi and thank you for highlighting our site and the press release! In response to Michael Pollan pushing Meatless Monday on Oprah, we’re trying to reach out to other visible nutrition personalities, and we’d love to hear from you as we expand our team. Sincerely, Chris. celam@mondaycampaigns.org

  2. Michelle says:

    WHAT? Scallops and salmon? They’re Pescatarian but NOT Vegetarian!!!

  3. sandy williams says:

    we go meatless regular. beans (pinto) and corn bread with or without potatoes or fried green tomatoes and salad. but we live in the south. we do black eye peas, pinto beans, legumes in general. breakfast is easy. oatmeal, toast, pancakes, cold cereal, eggs, etc and lunch can be sandwiches without meat. great with lettuce, tom, pickles, cucumbers, bell peppers, red or yellow peppers, avacado, etc. what ever appeals to you. even boiled eggs with mayo. popcorn for evening snack.

  4. Jessica says:

    Thank you for posting vegetarian recipes. As a mom I’m in the process of steering my family in a healthier direction, but find it difficult in this fast-paced, fast-food world. I’ve discovered that the trick is to find things that are still rather simple to prepare & to make it so good that my family doesn’t mind missing the meat. Your recipes seem to fit both criteria- you don’t know how encouraging that is! I can’t wait to give them a try!

  5. tina says:

    Thank you so much for putting this article online, I just came back from the hospital and was told to change my diet quite considerably and my first thing is to establish in my household MEATLESS MONDAYS and follow your nutritional guides and see how this works out for me cutting out the fat and heavy meals

  6. anna says:

    last time i check, scallops and salmon are meat

  7. Morgan says:

    Considering the classic food categories of Meat / Poultry / Fish, the scallops and salmon are in the Fish category, not meat. Meat is beef, pork, lamb, etc. But from a vegetarian point of view, fish might be lumped in with a more general concept of Meat (as in coming from an animal) vs Vegetables and Fruit (plants.)

    I think fish were included in the Meatless Monday concept because many consider fish in general to be healthier in many ways than beef or pork (saturated fat, etc.) depending on where it comes from, how it’s cooked, etc of course.

  8. Sierra says:

    I love this idea! I’m a vegetarian, but it’s hard to get enough complete proteins without eating the same stuff all the time. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  9. Krikri says:

    Dana, meat is perhaps the biggest offenders when it comes to cardiac diseases. You see, for a long time, many people had believed that quality protein comes from meat alone. But you corrected one thing – we can have quality protein from plants too.Beans, peas and lentils are examples. Perhaps the problem has been how to make delicious meals with them and this is where your suggestions of Salad Presto and Feta and Beans help.

  10. Excellent site, keep up the good work

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