You probably know that a plant-based diet offers a lot of benefits for your health, but it can be hard to give up hamburgers and bacon. In fact, an estimated 4 out of 5 vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat.
There’s also evidence that making the transition gradually increases the chances of sticking with a meatless diet.
Picking one day a week to eat vegetarian is an excellent place to start, and that’s the thinking behind the global movement for Meatless Mondays.
The campaign has a longer history than you might think. During World War I, Meatless Mondays were advertised as a way to support the troops. In 2003, the idea was revived by public health experts to encourage positive changes in the way we eat.
Begin each week with a meat-free day or design a schedule that works for your family.
As you plan your new menus, take a look at these ideas.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet:
1. Reduce your health risks. Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. Lifestyle choices, like your diet, play a major role in your well-being.
2. Lose weight. Being a vegetarian won’t make you thin if you’re living on pizza and potato chips. On the other hand, vegetarians tend to weigh less, have lower body fat, and live longer than meat eaters.
3. Consume more fibre. Increased fibre is one reason why most vegetarians slim down. Fibre also reduces blood pressure and inflammation.
4. Spend less on food. You may also wind up with more money in the bank. Lentils and tofu cost less than most meat products.
Practising Meatless Mondays at Home:
Learn new recipes. Make vegetarian cooking fun by experimenting with new dishes. See how many different ways you can prepare chilli or serve something elegant like a savoury vegetable tart.
Make substitutions. Enjoy your old favourites without the meat. Use spinach in your lasagne and chickpeas for fajitas.
Stock your kitchen.Simplify mealtime by shopping in advance for vegetarian staples. Look for beans, nuts, and nutritional yeast.
Do your research. Visit your local library, bookstore and the internet to find books about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
Reach out. Learn from others who are trying to go meat-free. Browse through the Meatless Monday website, check out #MeatlessMonday hash tag on social media or talk with friends and family who have made the transition.
Practising Meatless Mondays away from Home:
Visit ethnic restaurants. You’ll find many delicious vegetarian options at Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants. Keep a list handy for when it’s your turn to choose where to go.
Call ahead. If you think the menu may be limited, contact a restaurant ahead of time. Even a steak house may be able to put together an entree you’ll love.
Order side dishes. Remember that you can create a balanced meal without ordering a main course.
Eat beforehand. What if you know you’re going to be stuck somewhere where the only meat-free items are the hamburger buns? Fill up before you leave home so you can have fun with your friends without being distracted by hunger pangs.
Leave feedback. Expand meatless choices for yourself and other diners. Let restaurants know about your experience and how much you’d appreciate seeing more meatless options on the menu.
Meatless Monday Recipes
Recipe by Meet Free Mondays
Creamy Pesto Pasta with French Bean & Spinach Sausages
- 8 x Goodlife French Bean & Spinach with Wensleydale Cheese Sausages
- 600g Carbonara/Cheese Sauce (vegetarian version)
- 100g Vegetarian Green Pesto
- 100g Peas
- Vegetarian Parmesan/Hard Cheese to serve.
- Garlic Bread to serve.
- Cook the sausages as per instructions on the back of pack.
- Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil, adding the pasta. Cook for 5-6 minutes then add the peas. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
- Drain the pasta, and add the pesto and sauce. Stir, and cook on a low heat until sauce is warmed through.
- Once cooked, chop the sausages into 3/4 and mix in with the pasta.
- Split between 4 bowls, adding vegetarian parmesan and garlic bread where desired.
Recipe by Good Housekeeping
- 250 g (9oz) cup mushrooms
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 75 g (3oz) vegetarian mature Cheddar, grated
- 40 g (1½oz) ground almonds
- ½ red onion, grated
- 125 g (4oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 medium egg
Ingredients For The Sauce
- 250 g (9oz) half-fat créme fraîce
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (or to taste)
- Large handful fresh basil, torn
- Whizz the mushrooms in a food processor until they are finely chopped (if you don’t have a food processor, then finely chop them by hand).
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook the mushrooms until they are tender and any liquid in the pan has evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.
- To the mushroom pan, add the cheese, ground almonds, grated onion, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, egg and some seasoning. Form the mixture into walnut-size balls (about 16).
- Heat the remaining oil in a large clean frying pan over medium heat, and fry the balls in batches if needed (and turning occasionally) for about 5min until golden and piping hot (they might flatten slightly during frying). Set aside in a serving bowl and cover well with foil to keep warm
- To make the sauce, melt the crème fraîche in the empty pan, then stir in the lemon zest (to taste), basil and some seasoning. Serve the sauce on top of the meatballs alongside some with rice or pasta.
Recipe by AllRecipes
Black Bean Burritos
- 2 flour tortillas
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 (400g) tin black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon minced jalapenos
- 85g cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven heated to 180 C / Gas 4. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Place onion, red pepper, garlic and jalapenos in pan, cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into pan, cook 3 minutes stirring.
- Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to pan with salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir coriander into mixture.
- Spoon mixture evenly down centre of warmed tortilla and roll tortillas up. Serve immediately.
Meatless Mondays could be the start of a whole new way of eating for you and your family. Maybe you’ll decide to become vegetarian for life or just cut back on your consumption of processed meat.
Either way, moving towards a plant-based diet could enhance your health, slash your grocery bills, and reduce your carbon footprint.